One of my fondest memories of this area was the beautiful forest surrounding everything, including the road up to Santa Ysabel. However, when anyone has been careless with their campfires or matches or cigarettes, this area can be devastated.
In the last five years this has happened on a huge scale twice! In 2003 a fire treatened this area and damaged quite a bit of forest land. Again in 2007 another fire came along.
The photo here shows a small area that was burned in 2003. It was taken, not in the dead of winter when all the leaves have fallen from their branches off these trees, but in the early summer.
Four years after the fire, plants are beginning to reestablish the area, but those trees damaged by the fires will mostly never come back and it is a sad sight. Just across the road from the lake the whole hillside is nothing but burned trees.
This year, fires threatened this area again and I haven't yet seen the damage, it will surely be just as sad. So, if you do come up this way, be careful and help preserve what is still there.
Mission Santa Ysabel is still an active parish. I haven't been up this way for Mass in quite a while, but think it's worth a visit while in the area.
Fondest memory: Every year I'd bring my sons up here to buy their Halloween pumpkins at the Manzanitas Ranch. With the special whiff of fall in the air we'd wander through the various sections of the Manzanitas Ranch road-side market and choose homemade products such as honey or jams as well as the biggest pumpkins we could find.
Then we'd stop at the Mission for a bit.