Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

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Ilanfuss
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Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by Ilanfuss » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:39 am

I have plans for a 4 day backpacking trip starting next Thursday/Friday heading out from the Rock Creek Trailhead over Mono Pass and into Pioneer Basin. However, I am concerned about the smoke and air quality conditions as one of the members of my party has asthma and exercising in poor air quality is not good for his health.

Any suggestions for areas or trips that are more likely to have better air quality? Is further south a good idea?

Here is some basic information about what type of trip we're looking for:
We are hiking with a dog so national parks are not an option.
Some easy cross country is acceptable.
Looking to max out around 8 miles/day but could push this to ~10 if it's mostly downhill on the way out.
We'd like to get up into the high sierra.
We could either move camp each day or hike in to a nice base camp and day hike in the area.
Would be nice to get some fishing in but not crucial.

Thanks!








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SSSdave
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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by SSSdave » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:03 am

There is a thread in the conditions sub-forum dedicated to smoke information.

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... 34&t=18250

There have been similar threads to yours since the Ferguson Fire and other state fires began impacting Sierra skies by those wondering where else they might go. Outdoor enthusiasts want simple answers like go here or there but that is an unwise approach because fire and atmospheric conditions are complex, changing, difficult to forecast more than a day or three out. A wiser strategy is to become familiar with weather sites and do one's homework.

Some of the advice I've seen provided on this board has been poor. Even a seasoned meteorologist looking at available online weather information would have trouble forecasting with confidence a week out as you are asking. However the more one understands about the dynamics of winds, the better chance one has of making sense of it. So do your homework.

On the above thread I posted a terse analysis of what winds are doing to move smoke around. Please read it. Also look at the mentioned EOSDIS Worldview satellite views and graphics on the windy.com site correlating both to maps of areas of interest. Looking at today's EOSDIS shows much like last year, ugly areas of smoke from central California far up into Canada. Use the date tool on EOSDIS to understand how smoke locations are changing day to day especially the way smoke moves up canyons with afternoon winds and reverses at night. The most smoke free area continues to be the southern Sierra IF one is in the sweet spot far enough south of Ferguson smoke and north of Holy smoke. Even those areas will get bouts of smoke though are also likely to have days with wonderful clear blue skies just as our group did over last week.

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chulavista
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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by chulavista » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:29 am

Ilanfuss wrote: I am concerned about the smoke and air quality conditions as one of the members of my party has asthma and exercising in poor air quality is not good for his health.
I doubt an aerobic activity like backpacking in poor air quality is good for anyone's health. Maybe there is a smart doctor here that could enlighten us.

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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by longri » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:42 am

I'm no doctor but I was leapfrogging an MD in the Sierra three years ago during a very smoky period (Rough? fire) that is on par with or probably worse than the Sierra is right now. Now it's possible he didn't know what he was talking about, but his medical opinion was that the smoke just isn't that big of a deal for someone with healthy lungs who is out for their once a year 2-3 week vacation. He said that he, personally, was going to stay out there until he couldn't see his hand in front of his face anymore. There was ash raining down at times and people bailing out of the Sierra who were having issues with the smoke (tearing and coughing). But although unpleasant it never got bad enough where I was, fortunately. There were even some perfect days mixed in there.

Someone who has asthma is in a different situation. My wife has asthma. She's been in the smoke in the Sierra before. But she sure wants to minimize it and avoid it entirely if possible. This year she hasn't been to the Sierra at all, probably for the first time in decades. Even though my lungs are fine I haven't done a trip this year either for the first time in over 30 years. I'm just turned off to the Sierra in 2018, at least for now. I'm hoping September or, failing that, October will be inviting.

But you have to make your own call.

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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by AlmostThere » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:01 pm

I've been going hiking every weekend. Last weekend we were on trail crew, sawing trees out of the trail. I've been in SEKI and south of that, in Sequoia NF. Smoke haze is present everywhere to some degree. Photographers seeking clear shots of expansive views will be frustrated, perhaps.

I'm going again this weekend. I think it depends on what you are wanting to do and what you consider to be acceptable. For someone who has "one shot at the trip of a lifetime" it is perhaps a bad year. For me, it's where I'd be anyway for a number of reasons, so we call off the work if we have to, but we've only had to do that once so far.

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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by lauralai627 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:42 pm

For what it's worth (perhaps not much), I just got back from an 8 day trip from Taboose to Sawmill. We spent the night in Bishop before hitting the trail and none of us slept well due to the heat and smoke. The next morning I had trouble breathing for the first 3 miles up Taboose and almost turned back. For reference, I'm 36, this was my 4th trip of the season and I've never had breathing issues before. Your location and what the wind and fires are doing may be completely different (plus Taboose starts low so this may not be as much of an issue at Mosquito Flat) but it's wise to have a few back-up plans and to be prepared to change course or turn around if the smoke gets bad.

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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by maverick » Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:20 pm

Thanks for coming back and reporting this Lauralai627, if you have a few pic's of the smokey conditions, please post it on the on-going Fire/Smoke Thread. Thank :) you!
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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by SNOOOOW » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:14 pm

I was up Pine Creek to Italy Pass and Royce Lakes last weekend of July and no smoke issues really. I was up out of Mosquito flat into Pioneer Basin the last 4 days and 0 smoke issues. Once you leave 395 on the east side and drive up higher its pretty lovely everywhere south of mcGee Creek
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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by Dave_Ayers » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:30 pm

Current satellite images from worldview show both Ferguson and Lions fires have calmed down a lot. So much that I'm heading up to Mammoth tomorrow. I don't think you'll have much problem going up Rock Creek on Thursday, unless a new fire starts.

See https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov/?p ... 0330915677 and move the slider forward. It updates each afternoon around 2 p.m. PDT.

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Re: Suggestions for High Sierra Trip w/out Smoke

Post by austex » Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:05 am

Was up the Bishop Pass areas sat-mon. Was pretty clear but a bit hazy but no smoke smell. Did thundershower Sunday so cleared it out. Was up Mono Pass on Friday the 10th clear as were the previous days around LLV.

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