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  • Writer's pictureHannah Applequist

Remembering our CO Cabin and the East Troublesome Fire

This picture, taken mid-day about one month before the fire that destroyed our cabin, is so bitter sweet and a little haunting to me in the months after. We visited the cabin, unknowingly for the last time, in September to see the fall colors. There were other fires in the state, so the sky always looked a little ominous and, at the time, made for some of the best pictures that Gus and I have ever taken.

The East Troublesome Fire

October 22, 2020- I had just gotten up from a good night's sleep and was met at the door by my husband, Gus, who always gets up before me to get ready for work. "Everyone is okay, but I have some bad news."

The day before, we were aware of a wildfire (East Troublesome Fire) that was close to the town of Grand Lake, Colorado, where our family cabin was located. We were hopeful that it would just pass us by and didn't really think about it, since there have been wildfires in the area in the past that did so. However, that night, due to unexpected high winds, dry conditions, and many dead or dying trees from the beetle kill that had happened in past years, the wildfire increased dramatically in size from ~18,000 acres to ~190,000 acres.

The fire barreled towards Grand Lake and, unfortunately, took out a lot of cabins/structures along the way. Our cabin was one of the unlucky homes to be lost in the blaze. Thankfully, the area had been evacuated and the main part of town was protected. Amazing firefighters and emergency responders worked tirelessly in attempt to fight the fire and save homes. A couple of days, one snow storm, and 193,812 acres later, the fire finally was under control and is now the second largest wild fire in Colorado history.

More info here, here, and here

The Aftermath

These are the only pictures of our cabin that we have from the aftermath. The second picture is the bridge that led to our cabin and the third is an overhead of the actual cabin. Because of Covid, we have been unable to travel to see the damage or see if there is anything salvageable (metal items, if anything). Everything is on hold at this point really until we are safe to travel again, whenever that may be.

These pictures that, to me, almost resemble the aftermath of a bomb, are so hard to see. For us, our cabin was an amazing place of family and nature and a place to escape. The cabin was so special but is also a great reminder that all things are temporary and that material items are not that important in life. It was, after all, just a cabin.


There are so many trips and memories, but I thought I would share a few of my favorites and a few firsts.

Summer 2013-

This was my very first time visiting the cabin! I was a freshman in college and had started dating Gus that same year. I tagged along with Gus and his family (and a friend) and instantly fell in love with this place. I had always loved Colorado since I got to visit for the first time in high school and loved getting to stay, hike, and relax in the mountains.

Gus spent his entire childhood going to the cabin several times a year. It was a uniquely beautiful place. Gus remembers it being totally surrounded by thick pine forest before the beetle kill happened in the early 2000's.

My favorite memories are part of the daily experience of staying there. The smell of the mountain air, the hummingbirds in the summer that came to visit all the flowers, sitting on the back porch and reading a book, the wildlife, hot tubbing in the middle of the winter in sub-zero temperatures, among many others.

Winter 2013/2014-

This was my first time experiencing the cabin in winter. I remember it being much colder than I expected but that I loved all the snow. It was like a winter wonderland! We would snow-mobile, snowshoe (my favorite), play board games, enjoy the fireplace, and hot tub. We also started our long tradition of taking a picture in front of the cabin before we left! (We forgot to do it when we visited this year...)

Summer 2014

This trip was the first time taking my family (and a friend) to visit the cabin and Grand Lake! This picture is of the river near our cabin and the bridge (bottom left) that you saw earlier.

New Years 2014/2015

This is my favorite trip of the bunch because it is when Gus and I got engaged! This place will forever be in our hearts because of it. We were here with a group of friends during winter break and went in to town to watch the New Years fireworks. I will definitely tell the story in another blog post soon! This picture was also taken the day we came home, this time a newly engaged couple!

Blog Memories

Here are the highlights from our trips to CO after I started the blog!

August 2018-

I had just recently started The Emerald Slipper and was still very new to posing, taking and editing pictures. This was also our first time visiting in the early fall to see the colors!

July 2020-

The second trip to CO after starting the blog! We traveled out with my mom and brother and took lots of pictures! I can definitely tell a difference from our pictures two years ago to these shots... We have learned so much since then!

September 2020-

By far, my favorite shots we have ever gotten in CO and our last shoot before the fire. I guess we saved the best for last in a lot of ways! Gus and I traveled up roughly a month before the fire to take pictures in the fall colors. We are so glad we got to go before it was all gone. I especially love the pictures in the tall grass. These were shot in my favorite grove of aspen near the cabin. We visited and took pictures in that grove every year since 2018.


Like I stated before, Grand Lake remains a special place in our hearts and we have made so many amazing memories there. Most of the town survived the fire and is still alive and functioning! It is an amazing and unique place that will surely rise from the ashes (quite literally) of 2020 and become even more special. We do look forward to visiting in the future (once the pandemic is over, of course) and are hoping to rebuild someday; time will tell!

For more info on Grand Lake, click here


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