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View Full Version : Terrible smoke in Yosemite valley from Ferguson fire!



John Kasaian
16-Jul-2018, 06:56
It even obscured Half Dome for awhile the other day! HWY 140 has been closed as well.
f you're travelling that direction I'd suggest checking on conditions first, and have a "plan B."

Drew Wiley
16-Jul-2018, 10:25
Thanks, John. I just got my truck AC fixed; but over the 4th noisy party types did some street vandalism, including slashing one of my tires, so one more thing. I borrowed one of my wife's cars, a Saturn, to go to Pt Reyes a few days ago, but won't take that to the mtns. Just want a few days in the Sonora Pass
area to get some altitude conditioning day hiking with heavy gear prior to serious backpacking season. Two years ago, way up on the headwaters of the Lyell
Fork of Merced River, we could see the deep red sunset smoke glow of fires many miles downstream, just above Yosemite Valley. But on the peaks of the crest, there was just enough in the air to give a subtle tinge of rare color without obscuring detail. As usual, I always make plans B,C,D,and E.

John Kasaian
16-Jul-2018, 17:15
UPDATE Hwy 140 is still closed and Hwy 41 is down to one lane in Oakhurst. The smoke is so dense that the aerial tankers are reported to be grounded.

Drew Wiley
16-Jul-2018, 17:25
Do you know exactly where the fire is, John? Here the news is only reporting on the lightning fires north of us. I'll check the CalFire site, but it's often a day
behind. I still know people in the area, and know all too well how dangerous all that dry tinder is.

Drew Wiley
16-Jul-2018, 18:13
Never mind, John ... I did look it up. It's near El Portal. My nephew lives near Bootjack south of Mariposa. But the last time there was a fire in the Merced River Canyon the helicopter crews used his large meadow as a staging area, so it was pretty disruptive.

John Kasaian
16-Jul-2018, 18:55
http://abc30.com/ferguson-fire-at-4000-acres-evacuation-advisory-in-effect-/3768876/
It looks like Jerseydale is in harms way. Bootjack is well to the South but the smoke is everywhere, even here in the Big Raisin.
AFAIK it hasn't jumped the Merced River yet. It's only 2% contained.

Drew Wiley
16-Jul-2018, 20:11
I like watching that TV show, Motion, hosted buy a guy who lives at Bass Lake. Last nite the episode was on backpacking the Lost Coast. But if I ever bump into him, I'd ask why on earth anyone is still living there. It's a deadly inferno just waiting to happen, and will take at least half of Oakhurst with it.

Gadfly_1971
19-Jul-2018, 17:27
We just returned from Yosemite last night. We were supposed to stay three nights in Wawona but cut it short by a day due to the smoke and ash. Monday morning the entire valley was covered with smoke so bad that nothing was really visible. Tunnel View was pointless and only the lower Yosemite Falls were visible. The upper falls were only barely seen. Tuesday morning was worse, but once you hit the road heading east it cleared up considerably. Tuolomne, Tenaya Lake, and Tioga Pass were clear and the weather was beautiful.

tgtaylor
19-Jul-2018, 17:38
Air quality readings are off the chart: Ozone is in the "Unhealthy" range and Particulate Matter is well in the "Hazardous" category - at least it was a couple of hours ago when I checked but PM readings are now left blank. But you can see from the webcams that it is indeed hazardous.

Thomas

DG 3313
19-Jul-2018, 17:47
My buddy Steve has a horse ranch in Mariposa and the fire crews are using his 26 acres as a base camp. I know he won't loose his ranch. His wife shared photos of their barn and flames in the background.

Drew Wiley
19-Jul-2018, 20:21
Never say never. It's amazing how fast brush and forest fires can move. I've lived through several big ones, so now can't even be around a fireplace or campfire without sneezing. Having a lush well grazed pasture around buildings definitely helps. Looking at topo maps lately for alternate backpacking options. The high country remains lush and is far less susceptible to actual burning, but the smoke from fires further down often siphon up canyons and over high passes, and it's sure a big disappointment to be prematurely chased out of the mountains due to smoke. It can also be potentially dangerous because one generally has to return to lower terrain just to get out, where actual fires might break out. Part of the mantra.

John Kasaian
20-Jul-2018, 07:20
I'm probably be going to Tuolumne Meadows for a job in two weeks. I do hope the air stays clear up there!

Drew Wiley
20-Jul-2018, 11:07
Hard to say. Depends on the wind and what the fire itself does. Last time I went over Tioga Pass there was so much smoke I could hardly see anything. It had even settled around Mono Lake, where I got a very unusual shot of the Lake fading out in the haze. I started smelling and seeing that smoke in the middle of Nevada around Austin, on my way back from the Rockies. A lot can change in two weeks, either for better or worse. But it would be uncommon for the breathing quality of the air to be bad that high up. Photographic air quality depends on what you are after. Sometimes a bit of haze lends a sense of scale, just like old blue-sensitive films. My very favorite shot of El Capitan down in the Valley is a big albumen prints by Muybridge with a totally blank sky and all the rock itself very high key, with some deep black foreground trees. The sense of scale is amazing in that print. The monolith almost seems to float skyward.

tgtaylor
20-Jul-2018, 11:16
According to the web cams the air quality is much better today than in the past two days but still not good. The park seems to be posting misleading stats: Yesterday's Maximum PM2.5 1-Hour Average 268.0 g/m3 24-Hour Average 0.0. IIRC 268 was yesterday's 24 hour avg. Further when checking on campsite availability it comes back both yesterday and today "This page is currently being worked on. Please check back later. If the conditions inside the park were hazardous as they reported yesterday, then I don't see why they don't close the park until they improve. I understand that they want visitors in the park but hazardous is hazardous. You would think they would have a public duty to close it when conditions reach that state.

Thomas

Drew Wiley
20-Jul-2018, 13:58
Unless the news is local it tends to give a false impression, like the national networks last nite claiming Yosemite was at risk. Well, fire could indeed invade the southwest Park boundary. But very few tourists would associate those many square miles of brush with postcardy sights of Yosemite. The lower Merced canyon is interesting, but there are probably more pot growers down in the brush than hikers. And that chaparral wants to burn about every forty years. What is so dangerous now is the mid-elevation pine die-off. But the floor of Yosemite Valley itself is not very high itself by Sierra standards and can get downright hot, smoggy, and have distinctly diminished visibility even on "normal" summer days. Some of the smog filters in from the San Joaquin Valley, and some is generated by the idiotic practice of still letting people have campfires under such conditions. I think the bears are behind it, still wanting their customary seasonal marshmallow toasting. Once in awhile a bit of tourist gets added to the skewer to create real shish kabob.

Gadfly_1971
20-Jul-2018, 17:17
Unless the news is local it tends to give a false impression, like the national networks last nite claiming Yosemite was at risk. Well, fire could indeed invade the southwest Park boundary. But very few tourists would associate those many square miles of brush with postcardy sights of Yosemite. The lower Merced canyon is interesting, but there are probably more pot growers down in the brush than hikers. And that chaparral wants to burn about every forty years. What is so dangerous now is the mid-elevation pine die-off. But the floor of Yosemite Valley itself is not very high itself by Sierra standards and can get downright hot, smoggy, and have distinctly diminished visibility even on "normal" summer days. Some of the smog filters in from the San Joaquin Valley, and some is generated by the idiotic practice of still letting people have campfires under such conditions. I think the bears are behind it, still wanting their customary seasonal marshmallow toasting. Once in awhile a bit of tourist gets added to the skewer to create real shish kabob.

I camped in Wawona on Sunday and Monday, left a day early on Tuesday. The park service at that time was indicating that the park was threatened at least somewhat. There was talk of shutting down 41 from Fish Camp to Oakhurst on Monday. The views in the valley itself were non-existent. On the whole, while the Village wasn't exactly a ghost town, the number of people visiting the park was minimal considering the time of year. Hell, the campground at Tuolumne actually had vacancies (in July). It was pretty awful.

Drew Wiley
20-Jul-2018, 17:28
One reason for shutting down a specific highway is not always risk of fire spreading there, but in order to keep things accessible to fire fighters and their big trucks. Hwy 41 can be infamously slow. I used to tell people that there are two curses to mountain travel: the mosquito and the motorhome. One makes you move along faster, the other, a lot slower.

John Kasaian
21-Jul-2018, 07:09
Yesterday the local news reported the fire jumped the Merced River and that Badger Pass (or whatever you call it) is being used as a base camp for fire crews and Glacier Point road was being closed.

Sal Santamaura
21-Jul-2018, 11:14
I suspect the best thing for the valley, long term, might be a fire completely out of control that incinerates everything combustible in it. None of us, or your children (I have none), are likely anxious to accept that, but your grandchildren would greatly benefit.

Jac@stafford.net
21-Jul-2018, 14:22
I suspect the best thing for the valley, long term, might be a fire completely out of control that incinerates everything combustible in it. None of us, or your children (I have none), are likely anxious to accept that, but your grandchildren would greatly benefit.

Sal, I look forward to your posts. The one above puzzles me. Why would that be a good thing?

Sal Santamaura
21-Jul-2018, 14:40
I suspect the best thing for the valley, long term, might be a fire completely out of control that incinerates everything combustible in it. None of us, or your children (I have none), are likely anxious to accept that, but your grandchildren would greatly benefit.


...Why would that be a good thing?

Because it would clear from the valley a century's worth of uncontrolled vegetative and human infrastructure growth. A fresh start, much closer to a wilderness area. Just like much of Yellowstone after the massive 1988 burn.

Good for the valley itself. Not good for those alive today or their adult children.

Jac@stafford.net
21-Jul-2018, 15:09
Because it would clear from the valley a century's worth of uncontrolled vegetative and human infrastructure growth. A fresh start, much closer to a wilderness area. Just like much of Yellowstone after the massive 1988 burn.

Good for the valley itself. Not good for those alive today or their adult children.

Now I get it. Thanks.

Vaughn
21-Jul-2018, 15:59
They do routine control burns on the Valley floor. I am always amazed and amused at the profusion of conifer seedlings that pop back up in the fertile Valley soils!

Valley Floor (after control burn) Two 4x10 platinum/palladium prints

Sal Santamaura
21-Jul-2018, 16:08
They do routine control burns on the Valley floor...

Yes, and those burns are designed to clean up the duff in order to guard against crowning fires. In #19 I was referring to a massive crowning fire that would clear out all the mature trees as well as human infrastructure pollution. A reset for the valley. :)

Lest anyone misunderstand, I was in the valley last December and enjoyed my visit very much. But I've also been there during summer. Any fire that makes the place unattractive to homo sapiens for the better part of a century would, in my view, be a positive occurrence. We've got lots of Vaughn's images to remember it by.

Vaughn
21-Jul-2018, 16:18
They are also designed to try to keep the meadows as meadows. Tell me before you torch the place -- I am scheduled to give a workshop in the Valley in 2019 and I want to make sure to get my prints out of the gallery, too!

I loved Ed's (Abbey, not Weston) thoughts that National Parks should actually be called National Sacrificial Areas...sacrificed to the visitors so that the wilderness is not trashed. Let them buy their lattes, window decals and see the sites from their automobile in return for staying out of the wilds!

Sal Santamaura
21-Jul-2018, 17:32
...Tell me before you torch the place...I have no intention of starting nor would I suggest anyone else start a fire. My musing in #19 referred to a hypothetical lightning-caused blaze that couldn't be contained. :)

John Kasaian
21-Jul-2018, 18:57
There are plenty of beetle killed widow-makers in the valley. When they start toppling it's going to be hazardous.

John Kasaian
21-Jul-2018, 19:02
The native Americans would set fire to the valley every autumn before migrating to winter quarters. They knew what they were doing, lattes or not.

John Kasaian
21-Jul-2018, 21:45
The last report I heard had the fire traveling NE towards the Park!

Vaughn
21-Jul-2018, 22:14
There are plenty of beetle killed widow-makers in the valley. When they start toppling it's going to be hazardous.
Backpacking in the Yolla Bollys in June with one of my boys, we saw a dead tree (about 30 feet tall) in a small wet area we were camping at (nicest spring in that wilderness!) My son was greatly puzzled by the tree as it was narrower at the bottom than the top. I pointed to the snag the 'tree' came from!

Also quite common in the redwoods where limbs the size of large trees fall a couple hundred feet and bury themselves in the dirt.

Willie
22-Jul-2018, 05:19
For those in the area photograph in the smoke and haze - and wear breathing filters while you do it.
A good chance to get images early and late filtered by the smoke. Can't get them any other time. Maybe
a good time to see about expanding what one thinks has the potential for good images?

John Kasaian
22-Jul-2018, 07:01
Backpacking in the Yolla Bollys in June with one of my boys, we saw a dead tree (about 30 feet tall) in a small wet area we were camping at (nicest spring in that wilderness!) My son was greatly puzzled by the tree as it was narrower at the bottom than the top. I pointed to the snag the 'tree' came from!

Also quite common in the redwoods where limbs the size of large trees fall a couple hundred feet and bury themselves in the dirt.

Yep. When I was a young feller the first thing I was told about selecting a campsite was to take my hat off and look up.
The Park Service has been removing dead trees along roads and in camp grounds but there are so many is seems a losing battle.
Heavy snows should topple quite a few in the winter when the park is least populated. In the Sierra National Forest I've seen Mono Winds level a mountain side of healthy trees.

Sal Santamaura
22-Jul-2018, 07:05
The native Americans would set fire to the valley every autumn before migrating to winter quarters. They knew what they were doing, lattes or not.And they were not concerned about being prosecuted for arson. :)

Drew Wiley
22-Jul-2018, 15:40
Yosemite Valley itself is not the issue with dry tinder. The upper end of it has seen some wildfires in recent years. But the major concern is all the dead trees around and below. But nowadays fires can go catastrophic like never before. Trees that have survived multiple droughts are now dead dead due to warm winters creating a beetle epidemic. The wooded foothills are now semi-suburbanized and ripe for human loss of life. And the annual control burns set by Indians ended with the Gold Rush, and deadfall has accumulated ever since. Some of the FS and NP attempts to restore that practice have backfired and gotten out of control. Fires now hit gas lines and propane tanks. Otherwise, this morning I spoke to someone who just returned from Yosemite Valley, and besides being hot, they couldn't even see the cliffs due to smoke.

Drew Wiley
22-Jul-2018, 15:49
Just missed your intermediate post, Sal. When I was growing up we did create perimeters around the nearest village using control burns. But those were legal and closely supervised, with ample Forest Service as well as volunteer firefighting personnel and trucks right there. That practice ended with more stringent air quality regulations as well as the advent of rotary trimmers. But the notion of anyone just going out and starting fires is, and always should be, a very serious felony. That's how people end up homeless and even die. Seen it all close-up myself, more than once. The fires Indians set were annual and quickly moved low to the ground to clear meadows. They'd stash their possessions under a big rock somewhere (I know of a lot of those "somewheres"), then set fires behind them just before heading to cooler high country at the start of each summer. The result of this was lots of big open meadows which attracted deer and made local travel easier - a very very different scenario from today's octopus-arm-like development into overgrown brush. Fires today behave differently, catastrophically, and even generate their own cyclone-like wind storms.

Sal Santamaura
22-Jul-2018, 16:14
Just missed your intermediate post, Sal...Which one? This is my seventh in the thread.


I have no intention of starting nor would I suggest anyone else start a fire. My musing in #19 referred to a hypothetical lightning-caused blaze that couldn't be contained...


...the notion of anyone just going out and starting fires is, and always should be, a very serious felony. That's how people end up homeless and even die...Of course. That's why I posted what I did in #26.

Drew Wiley
22-Jul-2018, 16:56
Well, I wasn't trying to zero in on you Sal as much as just interject some facts that many outside the West are unaware of, and might think can be solved with the stroke of a pen or a bunch of logging trucks harvesting commercially worthless sticks. This kind of thing should be addressed as a national emergency, but those in power claim it doesn't even exist.

John Kasaian
22-Jul-2018, 20:28
Today's news is that the fire grew while part of the Tioga Pass Rd was temporarily closed due to flooding and a rock slide.
Apparently it didn't rain in the right place!
More evacuations ordered.

John Kasaian
24-Jul-2018, 12:44
Latest---
"On Tuesday, officials announced that large sections of Yosemite National Park would be closed starting at noon on Wednesday due to the Ferguson Fire. This includes Highway 41, the Yosemite Valley and Wawona.

People staying in the park are being asked to leave by Wednesday morning."
https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/persistent-heat-poses-challenges-as-ferguson-fire-shrouds-yosemite-national-park-in-smoke/70005581

Drew Wiley
24-Jul-2018, 16:23
Yep. Yosemite Valley and its approaches are now officially closed to all visitors. This whole area is being evacuated. Hwy 120 remains open over Tioga Pass. Gosh, from the news shots coming in, the amber light in the Valley must be amazing; but I'd
be sneezing and getting nosebleeds for a month afterwards if I was there.

Leszek Vogt
24-Jul-2018, 16:57
Well, that's the only place I go these days (Tuolumne). The Valley is too popular, too congested with myriad of risks of cliff/rocks descending. Nah, not saying the sky is falling. Looks like the Valley will be off limits till Sunday. No big, I go there only to do some ice skating...when possible. There are several parks (state type too) nearby....so Yos is not a must.

Les

Drew Wiley
24-Jul-2018, 17:21
The smoke is siphoning as far north as Tahoe. I advise friends in the Bay Area to head toward Sequoia instead. It's a bit further south, but the road toward Grant Grove heads uphills way faster than the winding roads to Yosemite, so the time to get there is about the same. There is some road work inside Sequoia Park. If you want a higher drive-in destination, Mineral King is nice, if one insists on being in a Natl Park. That whole area had its own horrible smoke conditions a few years ago. No telling how long lower Yosemite will be closed. Even if it was under control, those big fires can easily start back up, or new ones form due to lightning strikes etc. There is enough dry tinder to create even more monster fires any day.

John Kasaian
28-Jul-2018, 17:09
Yosemite Valley will now be closed until August 3rd because of the Ferguson
http://abc7news.com/yosemite-valley-to-remain-closed-due-to-ferguson-fire/3836237/

Drew Wiley
29-Jul-2018, 17:27
Well, toward its south end the fire has been stalled awhile about a mile north of my nephew's place near Bootjack, higher up in the brush, but is still growing overall. On the east side, there's a fire below Whitney Portal. Two others above Porterville affecting Mineral King. So smoke nearly everywhere except the San Joaquin River basin. But it could explode mid-elevation anytime. Hopefully not when I'm up-canyon.

John Kasaian
30-Jul-2018, 09:56
FWIW, Yellowstone looks to have sure done a nice job of recovering from their big fire back in '88.

Sal Santamaura
30-Jul-2018, 15:28
FWIW, Yellowstone looks to have sure done a nice job of recovering from their big fire back in '88.

Nine days ago, in post #21, I wrote this about why a massive fire that incinerated everything in Yosemite Valley would be good for the valley:


Because it would clear from the valley a century's worth of uncontrolled vegetative and human infrastructure growth. A fresh start, much closer to a wilderness area. Just like much of Yellowstone after the massive 1988 burn.

Good for the valley itself. Not good for those alive today or their adult children.

Drew Wiley
31-Jul-2018, 11:34
Some of these current fires are a different animal. Simply by studying tree rings one can appreciate how forests survived numerous fires and droughts. This is something a lot more ominous. Some things will grow back; for other species, the impact of climate change and repetitive catastrophic fires will permanently alter the appearance of the land. The tallest trees on earth were once up on a ridgeline not far behind where I live. Sure, some redwood groves have been replanted and are pretty, but the intact ecosystem is gone forever and covered with houses and asphalt. The old-growth temperate cloud forest as a massive water-collection machine and high biomass is gone. Period. That's locally and simply due to thoughtless logging and development. Globally there's a vastly bigger problem growing and it's not going away. Up in the high country the evidence is subtle but distinct. Down in the pine belt it's horrifically evident. Yosemite Valley is well down into that zone. Some things just aren't going to recover the way they once did after a fire. Last nite I saw footage of two simultaneous fire tornadoes in the burbs of Redding. Even in all the huge forest fires I've personally witnessed, never have I seen such a thing - real tornadoes sucking buildings apart and pulling roofs into the air, and incinerating them way up there! October-style winds in peak summer heat, then the fires generating even worse winds of their own. No, things are not normal. I'm just glad
to enjoy what's left. Some things are not coming back.

Vaughn
2-Aug-2018, 10:25
Hwy 120 west of Lee Vining (including Tioga Pass) is now closed due to fire. This info was updated at 9:30am today -- but I am not seeing it yet on the CalTrans site. It was a FB post from a Mono County Supervisor.

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/display.php?page=sr120

tgtaylor
2-Aug-2018, 10:51
I've been monitoring the Tuolumne Meadows area daily and about 3 days ago noticed a good deal of smoke had apparently drifted in from the Ferguson fire but the store was doing a lively business. The web camera shows some cars pulling into/out of the store this morning but most of the parking spaces are empty whereas they have been full for the pasy several days. I called the park and its confusing: It says 120 east of Crain Flat to the pass is open with no restrictions but 120 to Crane Flat is closed. If I interpret that correctly then 120 west from Tioga Pass to is open up to, but not including, Crane Flat meaning that you can only access 120 east from Tioga Pass.

Also lightning started a fire near unicorn Peak yesterday: The Unicorn Fire is a lightning caused wildfire burning in Yosemite National Park's Wilderness. It is burning at 9,500 feet in elevation with a vegetation component of high elevation mixed conifer, predominantly hemlock. The fire is has a low spread potential, which means it is not expected to have significant growth. Fire crews from Yosemite National Park will continue monitoring this fire

Thomas

Thomas

Drew Wiley
2-Aug-2018, 11:01
Thanks for the update. I generally use Sonora Pass instead anyway. Hoping it will be fairly clear of smoke once my truck gets out of the shop.

Randy Moe
2-Aug-2018, 11:05
Been so long I forgot it. So I just watched from Tioga Pass to Lee Vining from U tube 2013.

https://youtu.be/rUmBsEaU30c

I sure hope CA keep their Auto emissions.

Vaughn
2-Aug-2018, 11:28
I am not getting any conformation about the Tioga Pass being closed. The Park site just has that Yosemite Valley and Wawona (and other areas) are still closed until August 5th at a minimum.

The noticed I read earlier from the Mono Cpunty Supervisor has been updated -- now says 120 is closed at Crane's Flat. Either they changed it or I read it wrong the first time.

Drew Wiley
2-Aug-2018, 13:01
Just be aware that the Park and Caltrans sometimes provide conflicting info about Hwy 120. There seems to be a endless tug of war between them over its status as a state highway. But in this case, it's the fire itself that mandates the issue, depending on just how bad the smoke is, and which access points fire crews need unobstructed by ordinary traffic. If I wanted to get to Tuolumne Mdws, I'd enter from the backside at Hwy 395 Lee Vining rather than gamble on the smoke and mess. Under these conditions it would probably be faster to go from the Bay over 50 or 108 and down 395 anyway. At least the air would probably be a lot cleaner; and the sights are equally interesting. Probably not as convenient for folks in the southern part of the SJ Valley; but Sequoia is close to them. I don't know why people think they absolutely HAVE to go to Yosemite Valley this time of year. Even ran into folks at Pt Reyes a couple days ago who were there as a default to Yosemite. Guess if something doesn't have a Natl Park sign in front of it, they don't think it's worthy of visitation. Sad, but ironically a good thing in my opinion because it keeps other areas less crowded.

Leszek Vogt
2-Aug-2018, 13:18
Just looked at some webcams and all one see is 18% gray wall....no Half Dome or El Capitan visible. NPS claims that South Entrance is closed "indefinitely". Tioga Pass Entrance is open.

Les

John Kasaian
2-Aug-2018, 21:47
Just be aware that the Park and Caltrans sometimes provide conflicting info about Hwy 120. There seems to be a endless tug of war between them over its status as a state highway. But in this case, it's the fire itself that mandates the issue, depending on just how bad the smoke is, and which access points fire crews need unobstructed by ordinary traffic. If I wanted to get to Tuolumne Mdws, I'd enter from the backside at Hwy 395 Lee Vining rather than gamble on the smoke and mess. Under these conditions it would probably be faster to go from the Bay over 50 or 108 and down 395 anyway. At least the air would probably be a lot cleaner; and the sights are equally interesting. Probably not as convenient for folks in the southern part of the SJ Valley; but Sequoia is close to them. I don't know why people think they absolutely HAVE to go to Yosemite Valley this time of year. Even ran into folks at Pt Reyes a couple days ago who were there as a default to Yosemite. Guess if something doesn't have a Natl Park sign in front of it, they don't think it's worthy of visitation. Sad, but ironically a good thing in my opinion because it keeps other areas less crowded.

A friend just returned from the 12 day back packing trip out of Horseshoe Meadow on the eastern side and up Mount Humphreys (up to the 9,000' mark anyway.) The air was reported as being good.

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2018, 10:18
Latest news, Yosemite Valley is under mandatory evacuation. All employees who have remained are supposed to meet at El Capitan Meadow for evacuation via 120 (I'm assuming that would be eastbound 120? I don't know ---details are sketchy!)

Drew Wiley
3-Aug-2018, 10:59
John - I don't see how anyone headed toward Mt Humphreys for 12 days could do so without crossing over Paiute Pass over into the San Joaquin drainage. There are a lot of sizable lakes on the backside up on that big plateau. But no horse has or ever will set foot on Mt Humphreys itself. It's sheer cliffs all sides. Paiute Pass itself is about 11,000. But, er ...Horseshoe Mdw is way south of there, above Olancha and below Cottonwood Pass headed into the Kern River drainage. Awfully sandy dry soil on that long trail. Fine for horses but tedious on foot. The "shortcuts" are all strenuous, by far the easiest being right over Whitney crest.

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2018, 11:16
John - I don't see how anyone headed toward Mt Humphreys for 12 days could do so without crossing over Paiute Pass over into the San Joaquin drainage. There are a lot of sizable lakes on the backside up on that big plateau. But no horse has or ever will set foot on Mt Humphreys itself. It's sheer cliffs all sides. Paiute Pass itself is about 11,000. But, er ...Horseshoe Mdw is way south of there, above Olancha and below Cottonwood Pass headed into the Kern River drainage. Awfully sandy dry soil on that long trail. Fine for horses but tedious on foot. The "shortcuts" are all strenuous, by far the easiest being right over Whitney crest.

No horses on that trip, Drew. Mike was back packing. I've no idea of the route but I'll ask him about it when I see him next week if I remember.

Drew Wiley
3-Aug-2018, 11:33
Well, I do hope the San Joaquin drainage remains smoke free through next month, or alternately the Kings. But things can change fast. I had fantastic air quality last Sept, even though there was an active fire just one drainage away.

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2018, 11:35
A few minutes ago I could smell the smoke outside my front door here in Fresno.

Vaughn
3-Aug-2018, 11:49
John - I don't see how anyone headed toward Mt Humphreys for 12 days could do so without crossing over Paiute Pass over into the San Joaquin drainage. There are a lot of sizable lakes on the backside up on that big plateau...Paiute Pass itself is about 11,000...

One of my early backpacks (late 60s) into the Sierras was a hike from North Lake to South Lake...over Paiute Pass and down into Humpheys Basin. Heck of a pass to start a hike with for a low-lander! But beautiful -- Golden Trout Lake, etc!

The sun came out -- guess I need to get going on that fence work...already 78F and its almost noon.

Drew Wiley
3-Aug-2018, 12:26
Hmm. Paiute Pass. I knew an old Indian who did it barefoot as a child with nothing but a rabbit skin blanket for night. I once had to take some young guy from LA down off the top and put him on a bus back home because he carried a roast beef sandwich for his first day's lunch and got horrible altitude sickness. I was there at Desolation Lake photographing Humphreys when it was so cold my canteen froze solid within fifteen minutes. The next morning it was totally calm, clear, and unseasonably warm well into the day - quite unusual - so I knew a monster was pushing that warm front. The trailhead at North Lake was on the far side of the dam back then. I got outta Dodge as fast as I could, over the Pass and back down to North Lake. Sure enough, a monster rainstorm hit that evening - so severe it knocked out the dam and wiped out half of Lone Pine downstream. Bishop itself apparently had better lined channels. If I hadn't gotten out then, it would have taken three years of waiting or else a helicopter to recover my truck parked on the opposite side of Bishop Creek.

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2018, 17:12
Unsubstantiated report on ABC 30 the Ferguson Fire jumped 41 near Chinquipin and crews quartered at Badger Pass have been ordered to shelter in place.
Oops! Now the report has just been confirmed.
https://sierranewsonline.com/ferguson-fire-jumps-highway-41-in-yosemite-heads-for-badger-pass/

Randy Moe
3-Aug-2018, 17:24
So what do they do? Dig a hole?

They still need to breathe. ☹️







Unsubstantiated report on ABC 30 the Ferguson Fire jumped 41 near Chinquipin and crews quartered at Badger Pass have been ordered to shelter in place.
Oops! Now the report has just been confirmed.

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2018, 17:39
So what do they do? Dig a hole?

They still need to breathe. ☹️

Tough to dig a hole. Too much granite! The ski runs are pretty wide so there are natural fire breaks and defensible areas and the base lodge has a creek bordering two sides so there should be plenty of water. Glacier Point is solid granite---not much to fuel to burn but it's definitely going to be a dicey situation.

Drew Wiley
3-Aug-2018, 18:19
Smoke inhalation can be pretty dangerous too. That seems to be the issue. The fire itself is still seems to be quite a distance from the Badger Pass area. But what is in between could potentially burn.

Randy Moe
3-Aug-2018, 18:34
I hope and pray for our Fire Fighters.

I am close with an Alaskan Fire Fighter, he travels for Fire, and I do not know where he is...

He is often below the 49th, a quiet yet affable fellow.

I have battled Fire in factories, not fun, once I saved a barn, our German barn, bottle rockets lit the field. We barely got it out and for years my father asked about the burn...

Now I dislike any fire bigger than a few twigs to cook on.

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2018, 20:06
Smoke inhalation can be pretty dangerous too. That seems to be the issue. The fire itself is still seems to be quite a distance from the Badger Pass area. But what is in between could potentially burn.

Yeah, lots of beetle kill up there. Lots of beetle kill all over the park!

Drew Wiley
3-Aug-2018, 20:28
From the latest map update it appears the fire has barely entered the Park boundary, but came within a mile of the Merced Grove of giant sequoias. So it is a mandatory smoke evacuation, including at Wawona. And now a smaller but potentially serious fire has indeed begun in the San Joaquin drainage, namely, opposite of where Fish Creek enters the North Fork, slightly upstream from where Granite Creek enters via a series of high falls. That is a far more remote area than Yosemite Valley, and actually deeper. It would be almost impossible to fight a fire there except from the air. Completely uninhabited; rarely visited except by hardcore whitewater kayakers. Giant cliffs, just like Yosemite. Balloon Dome, which is bigger than Half Dome, sits in that canyon, but downstream from the fire itself. But all that smoke will probably siphon over Mammoth
Pass and pollute everything that direction. It's a lightning fire, and helicopter drops of water seem to be containing it so far.

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2018, 22:45
From the latest map update it appears the fire has barely entered the Park boundary, but came within a mile of the Merced Grove of giant sequoias. So it is a mandatory smoke evacuation, including at Wawona. And now a smaller but potentially serious fire has indeed begun in the San Joaquin drainage, namely, opposite of where Fish Creek enters the North Fork, slightly upstream from where Granite Creek enters via a series of high falls. That is a far more remote area than Yosemite Valley, and actually deeper. It would be almost impossible to fight a fire there except from the air. Completely uninhabited; rarely visited except by hardcore whitewater kayakers. Giant cliffs, just like Yosemite. Balloon Dome, which is bigger than Half Dome, sits in that canyon, but downstream from the fire itself. But all that smoke will probably siphon over Mammoth
Pass and pollute everything that direction. It's a lightning fire, and helicopter drops of water seem to be containing it so far.

That is in or near Ansel Adams Wilderness isn't it? It's been awhile since I packed in to Mammoth from Granite Creek ('95 or '96 maybe.) In Wilderness areas isn't the protocol to let nature caused fires burn?

It certainly is beautiful country up there. Crossing the summit just East of 77 Corral I could swear I smelled Chinese food wafting in from across the Pacific.

John Kasaian
4-Aug-2018, 13:28
Donnell fire in Sonora Pass.
https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6092/
1,000 acres and N of the highway.
The Sierra is turning into a weenie roast!

tgtaylor
4-Aug-2018, 18:47
From the latest map update it appears the fire has barely entered the Park boundary, but came within a mile of the Merced Grove of giant sequoias. So it is a mandatory smoke evacuation, including at Wawona. And now a smaller but potentially serious fire has indeed begun in the San Joaquin drainage, namely, opposite of where Fish Creek enters the North Fork, slightly upstream from where Granite Creek enters via a series of high falls. That is a far more remote area than Yosemite Valley, and actually deeper. It would be almost impossible to fight a fire there except from the air. Completely uninhabited; rarely visited except by hardcore whitewater kayakers. Giant cliffs, just like Yosemite. Balloon Dome, which is bigger than Half Dome, sits in that canyon, but downstream from the fire itself. But all that smoke will probably siphon over Mammoth
Pass and pollute everything that direction. It's a lightning fire, and helicopter drops of water seem to be containing it so far.

I haven't consulted my maps yet but this area seems to be around the mosquito pass or lake trail that goes to Chain Lakes and Gale Peak area. I backpacked in that area a few years back and recall entering and reentering Yosemite Park boundaries. Except for that creek (Granite?) is a pretty dry area and Mosquito Lake is basically stagnant water.

Thomas

John Kasaian
5-Aug-2018, 17:35
Yosemite closed indefinitely!
https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Chances-of-Yosemite-opening-up-Monday-are-13133557.php

Drew Wiley
5-Aug-2018, 18:35
Heck no, it isn't protocol to just let fires burn. They have to assess the risk and priority. Fire crews are obviously under extreme pressure at the moment. If the winds were acting up, something like that could easily jump the river and rip the other side clear into Red's Mdw, Devil's Postpile, and even take out the town of Mammoth itself. The giant fire three years ago on Rodger's Ridge was mostly within the Monarch Wilderness, and there sure as heck fought that. It darn near took out Cedar Grove in Kings Can, and did level some Park accommodations. And it did jump the North Fork of the Kings and burn clear to Black Rock. What they did in this case is ring the fire on the side of the Granite Cr bench with water drops and hope the cliffs and river stopped it the other direction. Looks like it worked.

John Kasaian
5-Aug-2018, 19:44
Heck no, it isn't protocol to just let fires burn. They have to assess the risk and priority. Fire crews are obviously under extreme pressure at the moment. If the winds were acting up, something like that could easily jump the river and rip the other side clear into Red's Mdw, Devil's Postpile, and even take out the town of Mammoth itself. The giant fire three years ago on Rodger's Ridge was mostly within the Monarch Wilderness, and there sure as heck fought that. It darn near took out Cedar Grove in Kings Can, and did level some Park accommodations. And it did jump the North Fork of the Kings and burn clear to Black Rock. What they did in this case is ring the fire on the side of the Granite Cr bench with water drops and hope the cliffs and river stopped it the other direction. Looks like it worked.

I was curious about that. How they built the new bridge at Sheep's Crossing, since it's Wilderness, is another puzzlement although I'm sure glad they did!

Drew Wiley
6-Aug-2018, 09:09
I was kinda upset about them building a bridge further up the N Fork at Helm's crossing. The original route was wading and hopping rocks right below that iconic waterfall just like the Indians did - dangerous or impossible early season, but having a big steel structure visibly behind it certainly spoils the ambiance, though it wouldn't appear in close-up shots. There are lots of bridges in official wilderness, at least on popular routes like the Muir Trail. Nowadays they just drop them in with a big helicopter, or at least sections of them. The concrete footings are still done by trail crews and mules, minimum impact. The west side of the Ritter Range is hardly popular. Darn rough. I'd sure like to explore some more of the west side, esp up Dike Cr to Iron Mtn, but given my age and already extensive bucket list, it's not likely to happen. Pretty hot in the bottom of that canyon, and it's 6,000 ft deep. I did parallel it from the top of the opposite divide a couple years ago. Got some nice shots,
but smoke haze was apparent anywhere below 8000.

Drew Wiley
6-Aug-2018, 09:24
Thomas - Granite Creek is to the SE of Yosemite. It has three forks and drains into the San Joaquin. The Clark range divides it from Yosemite, with Chain Lakes and Ottoway Lakes being on the north side, inside the Park. There are considerably more lakes on the south side in the Granite Creek drainage. The fire is a long way from there. It's the smaller fire on Cargyle Creek, near the confluence of the North and Middle Forks of the San Joaquin that could have hypothetically spread the other direction up onto the big forested Granite Creek plateau. It wasn't moving quick due to all the dome-like bare areas and cliffs
in areas like Junction Butte. The Granite Cr plateau contains a lot of red fir, but also enough intermittent dead pines below 7000 ft to be a distinct hazard. Looks like they contained it, thank goodness. ... But now another fire at Donnell? Egad! That's steep dry brush and will generate lots of smoke. I want to take Sonora Pass in a couple weeks for an altitude tune-up. Oh well, got of plenty of nice new Pt Reyes negs to work on for now, and maybe they'll have a handle on that fire by then.

Drew Wiley
6-Aug-2018, 13:42
Looks like they've just lifted the evacuation order for Wawona (Park personnel), with the fire stopped at the highway, which means the lodge is spared but the campground probably gone. Everything dowhill from there burnt. And it looks like the fire has been stopped before the tunnel. Still growing NW of the Park. Meanwhile, the Donnell Fire has jumped the road and is threatening cabins (I know somebody who owns one of those). The Pacific Crest Trail is officially closed north of Hwy 108 due to smoke. And the fire on the SJ has grown a bit, and their primary concern is it jumping the River, but so far looks like they'll contain it even though badly understaffed.

Drew Wiley
7-Aug-2018, 16:01
More bad news. The Donnell Fire got to the historic old Dardanelles Lodge on the main hwy. But it's mostly burning in the canyon of the Clark Fork of the Stanislaus below, and is only 2% contained, so could still spell a lot more trouble. The Carson-Iceberg Wilderness to its north has been closed. The Lions Fire
on the San Joaquin gorge is mostly corralled, but the smoke has led to the closure of trails to the southern section of the Ritter Range, specifically the trail system to Fern Lk, Beck Lks, and Ashley Lk. No actual fire danger there, thank goodness - some incredibly beautiful high country. The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite has extended a small tongue toward Badger Pass; but its growth in the Park itself has been modest and just around the western edge. The scars will be highly visible downstream from certain turnouts on Hwy 41 once it is reopened.

John Kasaian
7-Aug-2018, 20:00
Sad about the Dardanelles Lodge. I'll bet that place could have told some stories!
Since fire crews are being quartered at Badger Pass I'd think they be especially motivated to protect the place!

Drew Wiley
7-Aug-2018, 20:45
Kennedy Mdws could be at risk if it spreads upriver any more. The trees there were horribly stressed even before the drought due to so much campfire smoke. A similar miserable die-off is around the campgrounds at Twin Lakes near Bridgeport. Trees need to breathe too! Downriver the fire is slowed because so much of that already burnt in the previous Donnell fire a few years ago. I haven't heard of any official closure of the very popular Emigrant Wilderness; but
being sandwiched between the Yosemite Fire and the one below Sonora Pass, I'd imagine the air quality is miserable.

John Kasaian
7-Aug-2018, 21:29
My son climbed Alta Pk Saturday and he mentioned the air was pretty bad, and that was down in Sequoia.

Drew Wiley
8-Aug-2018, 09:37
Hard to say. There have been some separate minor fires in the Kaweah drainage, and the smoke from the giant fires way to the north has dispersed through the entire Central Valley, evident from satellite views. I just got my truck out of the shop, so am scheming where to go on the east side to escape the smoke. But it would be nice to have decent breathing driving over one of the passes. My favorite, Sonora Pass, seems to be in big trouble for awhile. Right now it's closed at the summit from the east, and way down on Hwy 108 from the west. There's a tiny bit of brownish fog discoloration here on the Bay. It's been downright cold and windy, with the usual seasonal onshore flow, and ocean is very clean. So I've gotten some nice weekly workouts with the camera. But I need some high altitude exercise before Sept backpacking season. Some friends want to hike out of Cedar Grove (Road's End). But even at the end of Sept I'm worried about the heat down there. Guess I'll have to start uphill at night. Big fires in that particular canyon system are a low probability because all that brush burnt catastrophically just three years ago. I had some smoke in Mineral King from it at the time, but the air quality was quite good above 9,000.

Drew Wiley
8-Aug-2018, 18:53
Got my foot in my mouth already. A fire just broke out on a prominent hill above Pt Reyes Station, Black Mtn (Ironically, not blackish in color at all until now!). So my favorite shortcut to Pt Reyes is shut again (last Sat it was closed for a bicycle event). Basically a grass and low brush fire, so the ground will recover quickly after winter rains, and probably will be contained quite soon. But there goes the local air quality for a day or two. Marin County has been fairly aggressive making sure homes and farms in that area have well-maintained fire breaks.

John Kasaian
9-Aug-2018, 09:16
My son and his friend hit the trail at 3:00AM to catch the sunrise on top of Alta. Not what they expected with all the smoke.

Drew Wiley
9-Aug-2018, 10:52
Well, smoke does tend to siphon toward the passes, the low points, which in that case would be past Alta and upcanyon toward Kearsarge Pass. Two years ago when I was in the headwaters of the Lyell Fork of the Merced, and at the same time there was a lot of fire smoke being generated just above Yos Valley, we barely got any of it. This is because there is a high headwall not only mid-canyon, but at the top at Mt Lyell and a whole wrap-around ridgeline of peaks with no conspicuous low point. Instead, the smoke got drawn toward Tuolumne and Tioga Pass, and right over the top. Back when there was the Big Creek fire on the long ridge extending from Kerkhoff Dome toward the River, the usual giant bellows effect of the San Joaquin Basin kicked in. The venturi or pinch point between Shuteye and Kaiser Pk - the second highest canyon wall in North America - pulls both storms and smoke right past it, into that vast basin proper; then the low point at Mammoth Pass clear on the opposite side, pulls all that between Iron Mtn and Mammoth Mtn. That is why there are not only the lowest surviving glaciers around there, and why the Mammoth ski resort gets so much snow, but why glowing ash from the Big Creek Fire many miles away was sucked through there and rained down on the town of Mammoth. I was returning from Wyoming and it looked almost like a volcanic eruption, almost as bright as daylight but brilliant red-orange! I felt like kicking myself for having already shot my last sheet of color film in Wyoming.

John Kasaian
9-Aug-2018, 14:03
Lock the doggie doors! It's so smokey even the bears are trying to get inside, lol!181386

Drew Wiley
9-Aug-2018, 16:20
Well, an arsonist did get arrested in relation to one of the SoCal fires. I've never trusted the bears either. How come a doofy bear wearing a ranger's hat and holding a shovel is always at the scene of a forest fire when everyone else arrives? I'll bet he hid a gas can somewhere around there too!

Willie
9-Aug-2018, 17:16
North Dakota today. Visibility in our area about 3-5 miles due to the smoke. Smoke is coming to us from at least 17 fires in Canada.
You don't hear a lot about the Canadian fire problems but they are there.
Montana fires can get us with smoke as well. Most of the areas further South go through South Dakota and maybe Southern North Dakota and then up to hit Minnesota and Chicago. Wind and weather patterns are that way most of the year.

We do need rain. Benefit right now of the smoke is it holds air temperature down which benefits both Soybeans and Corn - no rain for a few weeks and 90's stunt the development of ears and beans. Smoke in the air means lower temperatures. Nights of 50's and low 60's are comfortable.

Hope all the places with big fires get rain to help stop them.

Drew Wiley
9-Aug-2018, 20:30
Hope I don't have to drive all the way to Wyoming again. I love the Wind River Range, but gas is awfully expensive right now. It's the one state in the area
which seems to have dodged big fires this year. There are certainly noticeable pockets of beetle-killed trees, mostly whitebark pines. But last time I was there
it was rainy enough in the mountains to keep the handful of lightning fires relatively small and self-contained. No smoke issues. But heavy rain after our big fires here is not a good thing. It can be worse than the fire itself due to severe mudslide risk.

Vaughn
9-Aug-2018, 21:41
Well, an arsonist did get arrested in relation to one of the SoCal fires. I've never trusted the bears either. How come a doofy bear wearing a ranger's hat and holding a shovel is always at the scene of a forest fire when everyone else arrives? I'll bet he hid a gas can somewhere around there too!

Or why I became a Forest Ranger...

Drew Wiley
10-Aug-2018, 10:17
Well, you do know about that incident where a drug runner plane crashed in BC. When the search party or investigators got there, there was a dead bear twenty feet away that had eaten 30 lbs of cocaine.

Randy Moe
10-Aug-2018, 10:26
Well, you do know about that incident where a drug runner plane crashed in BC. When the search party or investigators got there, there was a dead bear twenty feet away that had eaten 30 lbs of cocaine.

Can you prove that statement about the bear?

Source?

No living thing could eat that much. Bear would have died well before that amount.

Drew Wiley
10-Aug-2018, 10:54
Gosh you're contentious, Randy. I'd have to recall the exact date, but it was well publicized at the time. Do you have any idea how fast a bear can eat, esp if he can just gulp something right down without needing to tear it apart? Go up in the mtns above LA where they've stupidly relocated some of the Yosemite bad bears and set out thirty pounds of peanut butter. Bring a stopwatch. That outa settle it.

Randy Moe
10-Aug-2018, 11:01
Gosh you're contentious, Randy. I'd have to recall the exact date, but it was well publicized at the time. Do you have any idea how fast a bear can eat, esp if he can just gulp something right down without needing to tear it apart? Go up in the mtns above LA where they've stupidly relocated some of the Yosemite bad bears and set out thirty pounds of peanut butter. Bring a stopwatch. That outa settle it.

Somebody stole most of that crap.

Bear died quick.

Drew Wiley
10-Aug-2018, 11:31
I never stated it was a logical fact, Randy. But it was indeed reported that way. The bear certainly didn't get far.

John Kasaian
10-Aug-2018, 14:05
You ought to see how fast bears can drink beer out of cans from coolers (say that five times fast!)

John Kasaian
10-Aug-2018, 14:16
Gosh you're contentious, Randy. I'd have to recall the exact date, but it was well publicized at the time. Do you have any idea how fast a bear can eat, esp if he can just gulp something right down without needing to tear it apart? Go up in the mtns above LA where they've stupidly relocated some of the Yosemite bad bears and set out thirty pounds of peanut butter. Bring a stopwatch. That outa settle it.

The bear chariot goes all the way to LA now? Yosemite used to drop the bad boys off at Granite Creek. If the bears didn't beat the rangers back into the Park the deer hunters up from LA might shoot 'em by mistake.

If I had to ride in a piece of steel culvert all the way from Yosemite to LA, I sure enough hit the ground with an attitude!

Drew Wiley
10-Aug-2018, 14:32
Yogi bears were often dropped in the Shasta forest, fat, lazy, and easy for bear hunters. I imagine the meat tasted like typical fast food slathered with mayonnaise. For a long time prior they were dumped at Hetch Hetchy, and to this day there's an upstream Yogi bear culture of nuisance pilferage. Then some moron came up with the idea of "reintroducing" black bears into SoCal mtns, where their natural population is declining. So in no time flat, bad Yos bears simply became bad LA bears breaking into tents and cabins, and even causing a few homeowner maulings around garbage cans. I've never even encountered a bear in the Granite Creek drainage, despite being all over that area many times. Did see some prints and tree scratchings last time. Don't believe everything you hear about bears. I might have even misspoken about Smokey being an arsonist. If he's like some of the FS supervisors I've known, he simply bribes someone else with a six pack of cheap beer to start the fires, and then sits around a comfortable distance from the fire line giving orders over the radio while collecting overtime pay. In his case, Hamm's beer would undoubtedly be involved.

John Kasaian
11-Aug-2018, 08:54
For you young pups that might not have heard of Hamm's Beer:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxBEodMKSDI

John Kasaian
11-Aug-2018, 09:03
Bears are all over Yosemite Valley right now, according to my sources. People leave, the bears party down!

Randy Moe
11-Aug-2018, 09:06
I watched the Hamms ad a zillion time as a child while living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota, we always thought it was about our water.

Right next door is God's Country.

John Kasaian
11-Aug-2018, 10:36
I watched the Hamms ad a zillion time as a child while living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota, we always thought it was about our water.

Right next door is God's Country.

God's a Canadian, eh?

tgtaylor
11-Aug-2018, 10:40
The valley is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday but the whole area is too smoky for me. I've been wanting to shoot Tioga Lake with Mt. Conness visible in the distance for a Kallitype print but conditions wont be right for that for some time. The east side is smoked-up: http://www.monolake.org/today/lvcam

Thomas

Drew Wiley
11-Aug-2018, 16:24
Gosh what a mess. Now the Donnell Fire keeps creeping east and has burnt the entire mountainside right across the road from the Kennedy Mdws resort, which could be next due to all its stressed pine trees. Of course, that's well downhill from the alpine setting of Sonora Pass itself; but the smoke must be awful. The Lions fire on the San Joaquin is hemmed in by relatively bare cliffs now, but it's still generating a ton of thick smoke due to all the creosote in the manzanita etc. We're not alone, Europe is experiencing a heat wave and horrible fires too, clear into Scandinavia - basically a northern hemisphere thing,
with the Jet Stream misbehaving due to the white top of our global picnic box melting away. It's only going to get worse.

BradS
11-Aug-2018, 19:03
Yup, it looks like the Donnell fire is traveling right up the highway. I fear that the Kennedy meadows resort may be gone in the next few days...almost certainly by next weekend. I hope they got all the live stock outta there. I was planning to hike out of Kennedy meadows to the emigrant lakes and Sachese monument in late September...looks like those plans will have to be scuttled. Damn!

BradS
11-Aug-2018, 19:04
Air quality down here in Soulsbyville isn't too bad today.

Drew Wiley
11-Aug-2018, 20:20
There are several other options to get there, Brad. From the east side you can start at Leavitt Mdws and go over Dorothy Pass and adjacent Bond Pass, and drop right down there. Or if you have 4WD, drive to Leavitt Lake and hike the old mining road along the high ridge leading to Emigrant Mdw (but not if a thunderstorm is threatening!). From the west side you can go from the Gianelli Cabin clockwise into the area; or you can do it counterclockwise from the Bell Mdws area. One problem of the western approaches that late in the season is that stream water is spotty and you need to depend mainly on the lakes; or at least carry at 2 canteens. It's somewhat lusher near the crest of the range. A lot of the larger lakes have been artificially elevated with check dams for the sake of fishermen, so you can get "bathtub rings" around them in drier seasons. Not my favorite part of the Sierra; but there is extensive granite slab in the southern half of Emigrant Wilderness, which also is less crowded. Of course, you might know all this already. I've never taken the trail from Kennedy Mdw up past Relief Res, but I've heard it described as a dusty horse trail; and reservoirs are certainly not ideal scenery. It's only a bit shorter distance than other options.

BradS
11-Aug-2018, 23:34
Thanks Drew. The Emigrant and Carson-Iceburg wildernesses are almost in my back yard so I feel somehow obligated to see as much of them as I can while my knees (and ankles) are still good. Of the two, I tend to prefer the Carson-Iceburg but have ventured into the Emigrant a little bit. I used to avoid the Emigrant because the USFS wanted you to pack out **everything** and I don't like packing out the stuff that has been processed though my digestive system. Thankfully, they've relaxed that requirement. I just wanted to get out to the Emigarnt lakes, and possibly as far as snow lake and Bigelow lake...because, I've never been there.

I've day hiked up (and up, and up!) out of Kennedy Meadows, past relief reservoir as far as Lunch Meadow....and yeah, the trail is heavy with mule droppings. Thankfully, mostly dry. There's a robust creek along side the trail and other than the occasional mule train, it is relatively sparsely populated once you get past the reservoir.

My contingency plan right now is to do a clock wise loop / out-and-back from Crabtree or Gianelli. Crabtree is easy and has more parking but, as you probably know, tends to be a zoo. This option looks to be a bit less strenuous than the haul up to relief reservoir from Kennedy meadows. I'm ok with lake water...I've got a filter pump and aqua-pure but, yeah, I'd much prefer the natural spring water that drips off the cliffs to the north.

However, I may have to put off a visit to the emigrant lakes for another year. I'm not sure what the air quality will be...the Donnell fire will likely still be burning into September. I don't think they're fighting it. My understanding is that, virtually all fire fighting personnel are otherwise occupied elsewhere....there was a town hall meeting on the subject last week but, I was not able to attend.

Driving all the way around and coming up from the East side, dropping in from Leavitt meadow is an intersting idea...I'd blow the better part of a day driving though...hmmm....will have to look at that.

Sal Santamaura
12-Aug-2018, 07:43
...It's only going to get worse.

I nominate this for an "understatement of the century" award.

Drew Wiley
12-Aug-2018, 14:00
Last I heard, there were at least 500 men on the Donnell Fire plus air support, mostly trying to protect structures across the hwy, incl Kennedy Mdws. But the fire has taken quite a chunk of Carson-Iceberg, being mostly mid-elevation, around 7,000ft. Emigrant hasn't been directly affected, though there have been a couple of giant fires in recent years to the west of it along Kibbie Ridge - still allegedly a miserable shortcut to upper Cherry Creek due to all the downfall and powdery ash. The whole area is susceptible to smoke, esp this summer.

faberryman
13-Aug-2018, 13:26
I just got an email from Yosemite Travel that the park is re-opening tomorrow, 8/14, and acomodations are available.

Randy Moe
13-Aug-2018, 13:38
The morning news said California fire smoke was making haze east of the Mississippi.

I smell smoke and my lungs are feeling it.

Drew Wiley
14-Aug-2018, 10:07
There are two main sites for current info. Incinweb gives active fire maps and related details. But the EPA has smoke forecasts based upon specific air quality district and predicted wind direction. I don't know to what extent Yosemite can be considered "open" if you can't see much and a fine-particulate face mask is distinctly recommended! Conditions on the east side of the range largely depend on whether the wind is circulating clockwise or counterclockwise, since tropic storms off Baja factor in this time of year. So smoke could either be pulled away toward the north of these big fires or sucked down into Mono Basin and even Owens Valley. Usually there are higher canyons that will be free. But when traveling in the area, always have a Plan B, Plan C, etc. I'd put Yosemite at the moment on the Plan Z list.

John Kasaian
14-Aug-2018, 19:24
I still can't get into the valley on 41, not that I'd want to, but I have work in Tuolumne Meadows that's supposed (supposed) to start in September and if I can transit the valley in the middle of the night, that'll help cut the commute time.

Bob Salomon
14-Aug-2018, 19:52
The morning news said California fire smoke was making haze east of the Mississippi.

I smell smoke and my lungs are feeling it.

West coast smog could also be seen in the East!

BradS
14-Aug-2018, 20:02
West coast smog could also be seen in the East!

Smoke, not smog. There is a difference.

Bob Salomon
14-Aug-2018, 20:05
Smoke, not smog. There is a difference.

No, traditionally we could see smog east of the Mississippi!

Drew Wiley
15-Aug-2018, 13:11
There are fires burning all over the West, hundreds of em, so hard to tell which smoke comes from where. But it's really a northern hemisphere thing, with some fires in Eastern forests too, and terrible ones in Europe as far north as Scandanavia. In ordinary conditions, Yosemite Valley typically suffers from both smog and smoke in the summer. Smog from the Central Valley tends to get as high as 6,000 ft in general during summer months. This is mixed with a pollen haze which normally gets up to around 8,000 ft in west side canyons. Then, unfortunately, everybody thinks they need a campfire in 90 degree heat just because they're camped in a Natl Park. Add to that a few control burns in the area, and you've got smokey smog. But pine pitch generates a lot of smoggy hydrocarbons when burning, and our terrible suburban fires generate a lot of toxic ingredients from burning plastics etc. All of this becomes a rather complex stew, depending on how wind conditions mix everything. Then you've got good ole Bakersfield, the Armpit of the West, where the oil industry smog is yellow-green rather than brown, reminiscent of the atmosphere of the planet Venus and even less inhabitable, at least by intelligent life. Some of
that gets as high as the giant redwood groves in Sequoia NP and NM, and is a major source of tree stress.

tgtaylor
16-Aug-2018, 10:51
Yosemite air quality has vastly improved and is now down in the "moderate" category for 24 hour period.

Thomas

Drew Wiley
16-Aug-2018, 13:03
The east side of the range is mostly GOOD air quality at the moment; but that could all change if the perimeter of another tropical storm sets up a rotational wind direction. I'll take the gamble, and would in fact like to get a few distant shots of the carnage while in transit. "Moderate" air quality means "awful" for me; I'm sensitized to wood smoke from all the previous fires I've been through, though I'm certainly not adverse to employing atmospheric haze to enhance
a sense of scale in outdoor photography.

Randy Moe
17-Aug-2018, 05:13
Local Illinois story on Fire Fighters from here working in the West, soon in California.

https://thesouthern.com/news/local/local-foresters-return-home-after-battling-western-blazes/article_dd2ef16e-f770-538f-bf91-590f78bcf870.html

BradS
17-Aug-2018, 06:34
Local Illinois story on Fire Fighters from here working in the West, soon in California.

https://thesouthern.com/news/local/local-foresters-return-home-after-battling-western-blazes/article_dd2ef16e-f770-538f-bf91-590f78bcf870.html

Thank you for sharing this...and special thank you to all of the firefighters and hand crews.

Randy Moe
17-Aug-2018, 07:01
You bet!

I have a friend who lives in Alaska but spends his summers as a roving Fire Fighter, often at the big ones. We see him seldom.

I spent 30 years on the Fire crew in a million sq ft factory. Every Fall we trained on big gasoline fires set in the parking lot. They were designed by our Fire Extinguisher supplier to require users to work as a team. Since my job was testing gas engines, I put out several gas fires inside the factory. Scary.


Thank you for sharing this...and special thank you to all of the firefighters and hand crews.

BradS
17-Aug-2018, 07:11
You bet!

I have a friend who lives in Alaska but spends his summers as a roving Fire Fighter, often at the big ones. We see him seldom.

I spent 30 years on the Fire crew in a million sq ft factory. Every Fall we trained on big gasoline fires set in the parking lot. They were designed by our Fire Extinguisher supplier to require users to work as a team. Since my job was testing gas engines, I put out several gas fires inside the factory. Scary.



I remember getting fire extinguisher training - we had a much smaller gasoline fire - at a factory where I worked summers during college. It is definitely not as easy as it seems like it should be. Luckily, I've never had to use that training.

bloodhoundbob
17-Aug-2018, 09:41
Local Illinois story on Fire Fighters from here working in the West, soon in California.

https://thesouthern.com/news/local/local-foresters-return-home-after-battling-western-blazes/article_dd2ef16e-f770-538f-bf91-590f78bcf870.html

I had seen huge structure fires growing up in central Illinois, as well as observing a huge structure fire in Nha Trang, Vietnam. But these experiences never prepared me for the wildfires I saw during my five years in northern Arizona. When I would see one of these fires "laying down" at night, it reminding me of a huge dragon asleep. I used to see and say hello to some of the Hotshots in Prescott who later perished in the Yarnell fire. Why the team leader made the fateful decision to move them from a safe area is a question that will never be answered.

Drew Wiley
17-Aug-2018, 09:59
There was news footage last nite of a massive fire cyclone at the Redding fire in suburban northern CA. None of the firefighters had ever seen anything quite like it; and nothing inside it had a chance, including the one fire fighter in its path. You can't outrun em, or even drive fast enough under such conditions. Even linear crown fires in the forest can travel at
remarkable speed. As a kid, I'd sit out at night on the patio and watch the fire atop a local ridge. The flames could be a
hundred feet high, and as trees ahead of the fire reached "kindling temperature", they'd simply explode, with the fire jumping up to two hundred yards at a time, rather than just spreading. We had an aluminum roof and plenty of water hoses just in
case the wind brought hot ash-fall our direction. But in those circumstances, the fire generates its own winds on a somewhat different basis than general weather, sometimes predictably, depending on the terrain, and sometimes very unpredictably,
as in the Redding fire and that terrible incident near Prescott.

tgtaylor
17-Aug-2018, 10:54
Yosemite air quality is steadily improving - in fact it is in the "good" category for this hour according to the website.

Interesting observation in this morning discussion on NWS website:

One interesting item of
note this morning are some of the readings above the marine
layer. There is typically drier air above the very moist marine
layer, but observations at Mt Tam are on the extreme side.
Observations overnight for relative humidity showed readings on Mt
Tam bottoming out at 2-3%. Other peaks around the Bay Area are
dry, 20-35%, but not as extreme.


Thomas

Leszek Vogt
17-Aug-2018, 11:31
Not sure what "good air" means. I've looked at conservancy webcam and the air looks awful (Yos Valley), as if at least 20K people camped there....and there are only spaces for how many campers ? I think it goes without saying, if someone is looking for clean air it will take some time for the winds to push all that out.

Les

Drew Wiley
17-Aug-2018, 15:49
Up to 30K people are sometimes in Yos Valley on a summer day. Doubt there are many there now. Tour buses don't care about visibility. 10 minutes at the scenic turnoff, with your choice of either taking a picture or standing in the outhouse line, then off to Vegas (only a slight exaggeration; usually it's a local casino instead, so the bus has extra time to get to Yellowstone for 10 minutes there). But towns on the outside of the park depend on those kind of tourists, and it going to be one bad year for them. A number of businesses will no doubt go broke. Or those towns could simply disappear in the next fire. I might try Tioga Pass in the near future. On Hwy 120 there's no need to drop into Yos Valley itself. I'm actually after burn pictures; and there's far more of that to choose from than just the present fire. Then over the top, where I'm hoping the air will actually be clean at high elevations, not sorta clean.

John Kasaian
17-Aug-2018, 19:25
The sky was blue in Fresno today. Wow, so that's what blue looks like?

Emmanuel BIGLER
18-Aug-2018, 00:58
Just for information: some smoke from California fires has reached Western Europe.

(in the UK)
https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/smoke-filled-storm-ernesto-hit-1908463

(in French - from Switzerland)
https://www.meteosuisse.admin.ch/home.subpage.html/fr/data/blogs/2018/8/le-plus-grand-incendie-de-l-histoire-en-californie.html

Well, this smoke is not visible to the public, but has been detected by various precision instruments (e.g. lidars)

tgtaylor
18-Aug-2018, 10:50
You would think that the rain associated with tropical storm Ernesto would wash the particulate matter out of the air. The shifting highs and lows have sent some of the smoke into the bay area over the past several days. We are forecast to have "moderate" air quality thru at least the mid part of next week.

Thomas

Drew Wiley
18-Aug-2018, 17:25
Blue sky in Fresno? That must be a first in history other than in the month of March. At the moment, the nightly news is predicting improved air throughout the week for much of the state due to an increased offshore windflow pushing cooler air inland. But that Fresno thing is probably some new kind of blue insecticide being massively sprayed by cropdusting planes.