This is a short follow-up post to my recent trip into the North Cascades of Washington. After I left the mountains and traveled southwest on Hwy. 2o, to the town of Winthrop, I immediately noticed an increase in the smoke in the sky. When I was up in the mountains, I was protected somewhat by (A) being up in elevation (smoke tends to flow down into valleys) and (B) being north of the smoke when the wind was from the north. That was nice since I was hiking. But then I began to head south and downward, and the smoke thickened, and thickened, and thickened.
But in the Winthrop area, a gorgeous piece of country not too far from the Canadian border, the smoke was still largely to the south. So in photographing I had some great orange skies, if a bit overdone, at sunset, and yet I could actually breathe! This wasn’t the case as I traveled south, down the east side of the Cascade Mountains, headed back home. Not only was the smoke so thick my eyes started burning, but everywhere I tried to turn off and camp, there was a fire burning not far away. I was afraid that while snoozing in my van, a fire might cut me off from the highway.
These kinds of thoughts don’t exactly lend themselves to falling asleep, so I kept driving until at 3 a.m. I finally gave up and pulled off. I slept very near the highway, next to one of the many temporary barriers across all the side roads: “Road Closed Due To Fire Danger”. This further irritated me, since the phrase “due to” is a grammatical pet peeve of mine. Why don’t people use “because of”? I don’t get it, who owes somebody something? Due to??
I woke with eyes itchy & burning. The smoke was thick in the trees. I love photographing mist and fog in the forests of the Pacific NW, and smoke is similar. So I shot a few. I’m not sure I like the image below very much, but it looks better than it felt to be there.
I finally got home to Portland, to find the air the clearest that I had experienced over the past two days. But my fellow residents were complaining fiercely about the unhealthy air, and their were advisories in place. I myself was relieved.
Next post maybe I’ll continue the Maya/Central America series. Enjoy, and keep exploring!