Even though we are locals, we had underestimated how far the fire had come to some of the places we love to go hiking in. So it was a bit of a shock to be confronted with a closed park and this sign at the entrance road to the park.
As we could not drive up to the trail head, we stood there on the road beside our car for a while, looking up at the charred hills.
As we learned later, firefighters had started a tactical fire in the Deukmejian Wilderness to protect adjacent residential areas and some structures in the park. This measure was a success, but the park itself suffered severe damage. A lot of animals, amongst them deer and coyotes, fled the fire and came down into the residential areas – and suddenly we saw some of those on their trek “back home.”
These three deer just wandered out from a garden onto the street. They stopped about 10 yards away and eyed us. Then the largest one of the three ventured forth, up the hillside.
The other two stood very quietly, waited a while and then tentatively started to follow their mate.
The only reason imaginable that the deer did not bolt when they saw us must have been that they were exhausted and in a certain way shell shocked. First the race from the fire, then living in a residential area for a few days – they were ready to go back home, no matter what.
They climbed the hill and disappeared out of sight. But where to? We could see quite clearly that the top of the hill was fenced off with a chain link fence. So we, too, crept up the hill, much more slowly and not as graceful as the deer and we found them.
Two of them were resting in the shade, the third one must have gone further to check out how matters stood.
The final amazing discovery was the way they must have managed to get past the fence (with barbed wire on top):
They surely slipped back in underneath the fence. Try doing that with antlers on your head!
But as we all know – there is no place like home and you do what you have to do to get there.