IDYLLWILD, Calif. -

Karen Sundsten says she's made the trip up the mountain a million times, but not like this one.  

"It was surreal seeing Mountain Center burned where it started. How much burned," Sundsten said.

With the evacuation orders lifted, Karen and her family return home to Fern Valley. Home - a word she's never appreciated more.     

"Always a good feeling knowing you have a home to come home to," she said.

Same for Christine Hunt, who chokes back years as she can't even find the words.

As people line up with proof of residency, just being this close to the orange slip, the pass home, triggered all the emotions.  

"This is already an extraordinarily tight community. It remained so while we were evacuated and  that has just deepened," Hunt said. 

Actually getting back home is a whole other experience.  

"It's a family home so my husband's grandparents built it. They're an old Idyllwild family. When we were driving out, backing out the driveway, we have a view of Lily Rock and there was a huge plume of fire behind us and I just thought to myself, this might be the last time we see this," Sundsten said.

Thanks to firefighters, though, it won't be.