BASS LAKE – When we caught up with Taylor Brown, he was busy at Bass Lake, cleaning up the day use areas along the shore. But his regular gig is Camp Host at the Mammoth Pool Campground.
When the Aspen Fire blew up on Wednesday, Taylor, an employee of California Land Management (CLM), was notified by Forest Service personnel that he would need to prepare to evacuate.
“The person from the Forest Service told me that it was strongly encouraged that we leave, but it wasn’t mandatory yet,” said Taylor. “They said that by morning when the winds picked up, we’d have to go.”
He watched the fire burn throughout the afternoon, and once night came, it was a lot easier to see it.
“There were lots of embers and flames all over the mountain, with ashes falling into the campground.”
Taylor said the smoke “wasn’t completely unbearable. I’ve got pretty good lungs, so I wasn’t too worried, but if someone had asthma, they probably wouldn’t be too happy.”
Taylor said the campground, which has over 40 spaces, was nearly deserted by then. There was only family left, and they were packing up their campsite getting ready to leave.
His little rescue dog, who was with him at the campground, was growing a bit nervous.
“He was kind of trippin’ out, hiding under the trailer, sensing something was going wrong,” said Taylor. “The whole place was this strange orange color, with the sun coming through the smoke.”
Taylor says he stuck it out until about one o’clock in the morning on Thursday, but decided he may as well head out rather than waiting until daylight and dealing with all the traffic along the narrow Beasore Road. So he and his pound puppy headed home to Bass Lake.
Taylor was born and raised in the area, and after spending five years working for CLM in the Lake Tahoe area, decided he wanted to come back to his home town to work. He got the job at Mammoth Pool, bought a trailer and set up camp.
Now, after being displaced from his summer digs up the mountain, Taylor has focused his attention on cleaning up the day use areas at Bass Lake.
“I live just across the street from the lake, so it’s nice for me to be able to walk out to the beach on my days off and clean it up,” he said.
As for having any worries about the fire jumping the river, Taylor says he’s just keeping his fingers crossed.
“I’m trying to have a good attitude, and not think negative thoughts,” he said. “Hopefully the trailer doesn’t burn down – I’m still making payments on it!”
In the meantime, he’s keeping busy at the lake, and waiting to hear when he can return to his beautiful spot up at Mammoth Pool.
“I like this job a lot, and I’m just trying to work as hard as I can,” said Taylor. “I’m sure everything’s gonna work out; I usually have pretty good luck.”