June 13, 2012
The Colorado High
Park Fire and Us
June 29, 2012
High Park Fire
Pics & Update
July 1, 2012
Our First Trip
Back to "Paradise"
July 12, 2012
Ash Day
Reality Check
August 6, 2012
Progress Report &
Pics on the Fire
August 16, 2012
Before & After
Fire Pics
September 12, 2012
After Fire
Progress Update
September 27, 2012
Work Parties and
Donkey Story
November 29, 2012
OK - The Black
Truth Blog
January 2, 2013
Looking Forward,
Looking Back
June 18, 2013
One Year Later -
The High Park Fire
September 20, 2013
We Weathered
the Storm


The following letter was sent on September 12, 2012:

After Fire Progress Update
 Colorado High Park Fire 

NOTE: Tree-cutting work parties being planned for Sept. 29 & 30, and Oct. 6 & 7! Please RSVP to if you need more info, or want to come and need our physical address and detailed directions to our house. Campers are welcome. Hope to see you!

Wow - three months have gone by already since we lost our home to the High Park Fire. Hard to believe. So much has already transpired.

Last week we FINALLY finished our Home Inventory Contents List for the insurance company. What a chore, and what a blessing it's done. Our insurance company (State Farm) has been absolutely great through all of this, but trying to remember every single item we lost, how old it was, and researching what it would cost to replace, was time-consuming, labor intensive, emotional at times, mind-bending, and exhausting.

In the meantime, thank you all again for your tremendous support with gift cards and donations. We're not used to being on this end of charity, but your kindness has helped us obtain needed items while waiting for the insurance details to get worked out. There is no way I can properly express the emotions we feel at your generosity.

While I am eager to return to work, after being "out of the office" for most of three months, I'm finding my focus still is not where it used to be. I'm sure it's asking too much to expect my mind and my body to be operating at normal capacity this soon after such a blow. I'm grateful I'm able to fulfill as many duties as I am able, and look forward to the day I have my full vim and vigor back. In the meantime, thank you for your continued patience as I slowly slog though the backlog. Each week brings improvement, and it's SO nice to be focusing on planning dances and events again instead of looking to the sad past.


So here's all the great stuff that's been happening since my last post... 

On August 6, Mike hired a professional arborist to come up and remove three large pine trees that were too close to our studio.

They also sprayed over 40 trees to try to prevent pine beetle infestations, and save the trees closest to the studio that were untouched or only partially burned by the fire.

We're learning more about which burnt trees might survive after all, and which ones really need to go. We plan to remove all the torched ones from behind the old house, and thin the remaining ones, so we'll end up creating our own mini "Paradise Park" right here, which will have more mountain meadow grazing for wildlife. Should be real pretty in a few years.

Speaking of wildlife - we've had twin spotted fawns running around here the last six weeks with their mama. They've lost their spots by now, but are still adorable. It's great to see the wildlife.

An erosion control specialist walked our land two weeks ago, and has given us advice on treatments. A weed control expert should be coming soon, too, and hopefully there will be funding available from both sources to assist.

We've had two incredible work parties, with friends (and strangers!) driving from as far away as Laramie, Parker, and Colorado Springs to come help in the clean up process. On August 25 & 26, we had multiple teams at work. Even two of my sisters came, Stacy from Boulder, and Sheila all the way from Minnesota to surprise me and lend a hand!

Stacy humorously demonstrates the proper stance to take when shoveling debris.

"Team Chainsaw" cut down and limbed burnt trees,

while "Team Trailer" loaded the blackened branches to be driven across the meadow.

There the branches were quickly and noisily disposed of by "Team Chipper," (so sorry - I didn't get an action photo!) friends who towed their own personal chipper to our land to help with the massive project. The trunks and branches that were too large to chip were taken, one tractor bucket load at a time, by Mike and stacked on the edge of our property for future disposal.

The "Ditching Team" - brave, weary, determined men! - dug a 125-foot-long ditch in which to bury our phone line from the pedestal to the studio.

The "Trim Team" clipped and removed every dead piece of brush they could find,

while "Team Sharon" raked, hauled, stacked, and removed all kinds of flammable underbrush from around the studio in order to better fireproof it for the future. Here's my team getting Mike's version of an amusement park ride. They loved it - even if they did scream a lot!

 And "Team Sarah," a team of one! spent hours going over the areas where six buildings used to stand, collecting over 400 fallen nails and other tractor-tire-punching hazards. Of course, after all that work, she was rewarded by Mike and her brother by being thrown in the pond! Here she is hanging up her ashy, soggy laundry to dry...

 Speaking of the was a great way to cool and wash off after a long, hot day of hauling sooty trees around!

This was no tea party! It was hard work, sweaty, and filthy, but these great people kept smiling through it all.

Even the dogs got dirty!

I wish I had pictures of everyone who contributed that day. I cannot possibly begin to properly express my appreciation enough. It blows my mind what kindness and willingness everyone is showing to us. Thank you so much!

Dog tired.
We ended Saturday's work day with a fabulous potluck by the tipi Mike put up to commemorate how he first lived up here on the land 31 years ago. Smoked salmon and chicken, salads, fresh corn on the cob, and lots of other homemade goodies! Afterwards, we were treated to a special gift by our musical friends, and then danced a few by starlight. On Sunday, after wrapping up a few more projects, we relaxed the rest of the day with more friends and neighbors who stopped in, brought more tasty food, and good cheer. Good company, good food, and good times - just what was needed!

Even our local sheriff came by for our "open" house. The big tough guy brought the cutest fuzzy puppy along...

And then last week we had a professional roofer friend of Mike's come up and replace the shingles on our deck overhang with metal roofing. Hooray! One less thing to fret about during fire season.

So - where do we go from here, you keep asking?
Step one - continue cleanup
Step two - rebuild a storage/work shed
Step three - remodel our studio to make the "rough" half of it a home and better work space, and to prepare it for winter. This will be a massive and intensive project.
Step four - continue to ponder the possibilities of rebuilding something where the house used to stand, based on finances and energy left.

What can I say? We can't do it without you - your prayers, your words of encouragement, your willing hands of labor, your generosity, your kindness and friendship. There is way too much for just Mike and I to accomplish, and I am humbled every day and honored to receive your blessings sent our way.

In closing - in the morning, just at sunrise, the mountain turns copper, as all the fallen pine needles catch the light. For a brief time, it glows beautifully golden, before fading again to black. What a beautiful and rare sight...

We're so grateful for your continued prayers and support. I know the fire is ancient history for most you, and it doesn't make the news anymore, but we are still living through the aftermath, and it touches us to continue to receive your kind emails, cards, and calls. We know we'll still be working it for years to come. Progress forward...

Most sincerely and with continued great appreciation,
Sharon & Mike Guli

PO Box 127
Bellvue, CO 80512