In 2006, floodwaters off the Hayman burn scar destroyed miles of State Highway 67, shutting down the road and isolating the poor folks in Deckers.
My husband and I, both curious types, decided to take a road trip to check out the damage. We followed the highway through the burnt hills, noting the places where homes had been spared by the fire — just barely. It had been years since all those acres burned, but the hills seemed frozen in time, still dark and bleak.
We reached the point where the highway was closed and took out our mountain bikes, riding past the barricades. Soon we could see that the creek along the highway — a merry little stream, at this point — had thrown huge chunks of asphalt downhill. It had widened, flowing over where the road had once been. Sand and mud were everywhere.
It was sort of terrifying, like stumbling upon the wake created by a monster.
I've thought a lot about that scene since the Waldo Canyon Fire burned the hills near my own home. Like those homes I saw on the roadside, mine was spared by the fire. But I can't help but wonder if my home — and those of so many of my neighbors — survived the fire only to be swept away in the flood.
The creek near my home looks innocent enough, but flood maps — one of which is printed with our cover story, starting here — paint it wide, like a great blue snake. Its belly is full of houses, including a good part of mine.