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Back in the day...


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We've come to a sad realization about our summer backpacking trips to the Sierra.  It used to be that one the most dependable elements of those trips was the deep blue skies that we would find above us.  There is something about being up at 10,000 feet that helps make those skies truly memorable.

But we're beginning to think that they may well be a thing of the past.  Over the past few summers, those skies have almost always been smoggy with the smoke of forest fires, either near or far.  You can see this as you explore our photos.  What was once blue, blue skies and views that went on for tens of miles are now dingy skies, and the distant peaks are barely visible through the smoke.

It's sad.  And given the state of our trees (Will they ever recover from the combination of drought and beetle infestations?) those vistas of deep forests that cover the lower slopes like a blanket may also be a memory that we can only tell our children about.  Or show them our photos from years ago.  

One slightly happier note is that we noticed both blue skies and healthy trees in our last trip up to the Caribou Wilderness, just to the north of the Sierra--as in the photo at right. 

It was lovely.  And it made us just a little sad to realize that we hadn't seen either skies or trees like that in a number of years in the Sierra. 

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  • 1 year later...

For clear skies it is best to go early in the year at lower elevations. 

Our problems with intense forest fires is directly realated to 125 years of fire suppression and reduced harvesting levels. Droughts and climate change are minor causative factors in comparison. 

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  • 7 months later...

I was at 8,400 feet in the Sierras last week.  The skies were perfectly blue but there was smoke at 5,000 feet near home.

I was packing horses in 1988 in Wyoming during the Yellowstone fires.  The sun was red and people had their headlights on mid-day. 

We climbed out of the smoke and it was clear the whole time above 7,000 feet.

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