Ugly smoke conditions in Siskiyou County.
August has not been a pretty month as far as the smoke around Mount Shasta is concerned. Though there have been perfectly clear days, it seems that more have been smoky than not. Fires burning the forests are bad enough but the miserable air quality is oppressive and discouraging. Though Dunsmuir had a potentially dangerous fire, that seems well in hand at this point. The smoke we are dealing with is instead coming from the northwest, in the Marble Mountains area. The firefighters are working hard to get the fires contained but the smoke output is still high. I hope it rains very, very soon, though none looks to be on the horizon.
The view from the front of my house: today and in clearer conditions.
There are a few ways to track the smoke, for those who are interested in where it is coming from. Most of them are based on NASA’s Terra MODIS system. Personally, I like to check the map supplied by the Pacific Crest Trail Association. This map shows the smoke, snow and atmospheric conditions seen from the satellite but also adds a layer showing public land boundaries and the PCT itself. It’s a useful tool for keeping track of conditions.
For anyone who still wants to head outside despite the smoke, I would head high or low. I have posted an article describing some of the better trails to hike when there is smoke in the air. You can find it here. Of these, I would definitely head over to the McCloud area. The map shows far less smoke in that area. I would also consider heading up onto Mount Shasta. The Old Ski Bowl looks to be relatively clear as well, and the high trails on the mountain are often (though not always) above the smoke. Trails beginning there are found here.
We have guests coming up to stay at our cabin this weekend. I am sympathetic to folks in their shoes. You can’t always get up to Mount Shasta (or anywhere else in the mountains) and when it is possible, it is demoralizing when the smoke threatens to ruin the experience. I hope resources and articles like the ones I have posted here will help people maximize their time here in spite of the nasty air quality.
Now all we need is for some rain to show up for a couple of days! I am sure Texas would be happy to give us some of theirs!