I can see the pirate on the mountain from the window in front of my desk in the cabin.  It’s a formation of trees and rocks that create a Johnny Depp sort of swashbuckler, with features defined by 50-foot ponderosa pines poking out of granite skin. He has a pert nose, neat beard, and a large, graceful hat; one eye squints and the other one is covered with a patch. He’s maybe a thousand feet in diameter, about a fourth of the height of the section of mountain we can see from our land. Can you see him in the center of the photo below? It takes a little imagination, but once you see him, he’s always there.

In the trees that form the top of his hat sits a tiny miner’s cabin, built by neighbors more than 100 years ago. In the ravine to the left of the pirate is their mine, which never yielded anything other than a bad back. The cabin is often a stopping off place for hikers climbing the peak—the tin roof still provides shelter. (Photo from 2012)IMG_1473

The pirate was perhaps the largest casualty of the 2013 fire, at least in terms of volume.


Most of his eye and nose are gone, his beard a pale shadow, barely visible against the rock of the mountain. His eye patch, plume, and part of his hat are mostly alive, the rest is burned away. We haven’t been up to check on it, but we hear the miner’s shack is also gone. (Photo from 2016)

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