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Backpacking experiences during fires

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Re: Backpacking experiences during fires

Postby WarrenFork » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:41 pm

SSSdave wrote: My birthplace Los Angeles, is the vast urban armpit of the planet.

The planet? Oh how the residents of Mexico City, Delhi, Karachi, Shanghai, and Seoul would beg to differ. Each exceeds the population of metro LA by around ten million people, with far worse air pollution and traffic. Then there's Tokyo-Yokohama. Imagine the entire population of California crammed into Los Angeles-Long Beach. That's Tokyo.

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Re: Backpacking experiences during fires

Postby calipidder » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:54 pm

Back in 2007 I was hiking the JMT and had a planned exit at Piute Pass for a layover night in Bishop. My husband would join me the next day to finish the rest of the trail. I had been on the trail for two weeks or so and camped at one of the Golden Trout lakes on the west side of the pass.

I woke up the next morning with smoke so thick that I could see it in my tent. In a panic, I packed up and hoofed it up the pass as fast as possible - I was certain the fire would be licking my heels at any moment.

On Piute pass I found a ranger. I expected that she was there to herd people out of the backcountry. I asked about the fire, how close it was, if I should cancel my planned re-entry for the next day, etc.

She laughed - the smoke was blowing in all the way from the massive fires around Santa Barbara. So no, my tent was not going to burn to the ground with me in it.
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Re: Backpacking experiences during fires

Postby LightRanger » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:56 am

Hiked North Lake to South Lake over Lamarck during the Aspen Fire. August 3-9 or so, 2013. Smoke only bugged us one morning camped at Sapphire Lake before a breeze picked up and blew it out. Prior to the trip I was so concerned about it that we almost bailed to Mineral King instead, but it ended up not being a problem.

You can sort of see a little bit of haze here from later that day at Wanda Pass, but not much:

Sunset over Wanda (L to R: Goddard, Peak 12,964, McGee, Peak 12,262). Same day smoke drifted in a bit around Evolution Valley.


Sunset photos were actually looking in pretty much the exact direction of the Aspen Fire from where we were. Smoke was simply drifting toward Mammoth/June, IIRC.
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Re: Backpacking experiences during fires

Postby balance » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:58 am

Last summer I was planning a trip up to Lake Italy and Vee Lake. I got my permit at the forest service, headed up toward Bear Creek dam, and ran into smoke at Shaver Lake. Not going there.

Went back to the office and asked them why they didn't let people know about the smoke. They said that they usually did. :rolleyes:

Great backup plan! Headed over to Cedar Grove and Road's End. Going up Copper Creek to Gardiner Basin. Except trail was closed by a fire. ](*,)

Wound going up into Ranger Lake area. Turned out to be a nice seven days, but a little lower elevation than originally planned. :)

I don't care about weather or mosquitos anymore. More concerned about winding up breathing smoke and ash at !0,000 feet. :(
Last edited by balance on Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Backpacking experiences during fires

Postby BigMan » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:04 am

Last year I was driving to Lake Thomas A. Edison but changed my plan after seeing smoke on the way. I went to Road's End's and up to the Monarch Divide instead. I didn't avoid the smoke - the views north were often obscured. I still had a nice time.

Before I had planned to end the hike I met a Ranger in Granite Basin and was immediately escorted (e.g., forced) from Granite Basin down the Copper Creek trail due to a small fire at Lower Tent Meadow. My escorts were two firefighters who were evaluating the fire on the ground for the first time. That was interesting - being the first to walk into a new fire. It made for a 17-mile day (from Lower State Lake to Cedar Grove). I foolishly drove home to San Jose that night (never again when I'm that tired).

When the Ranger first told me about the fire, I told him that I had been through Lower Tent Meadow a few days earlier and would be willing to provide any helpful information. I sometimes regretted that decision, because before returning to cell phone coverage range, someone (NPS?) called my wife's phone number (my emergency contact), asking for me, telling her that I had information about a fire. She hadn't yet heard from me, so she freaked out a bit. They didn't do a good job reassuring her that I was OK.

Over the next week I received calls from three different individuals. They each asked me the same questions. They were nice, but as a "team" they were incredibly uncoordinated.

In the end, I was able to send them a picture that helped them to better estimate the time the fire started.
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