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Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Justin-T » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:38 am

The Ferguson Fire that started just west of the park July 14 has grown from 1,000 to 4,000 to 9,300 acres as of today (July 16). Reported as only 2% contained as of today and with little rain in the forecast for the next 10 days it looks like this one will take a while to be put out. With many people (including me) leaving for a backpacking trip to YNP in a few days, it would be great to hear any up-to-date reports on air quality and visibility in the valley and/or backcountry.
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:54 am

The webcams are telling the story... looks like a nightmare for anyone with asthma.

We noticed the smoke layer in the sky and went south, to the Giant Forest in Sequoia NP. Tho there is still smoke due to other fires, it was much clearer down there. And with all the delays on 41, the road closure on 140, it's much easier to reach more southerly destinations from the central valley.
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Justin-T » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:54 pm

Hmmm, checking the particulate levels reported on this page, makes me think I want to start putting a back-up plan in place and go to SEKI instead if they don't get the fire under control quickly:

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/current-data.htm?site=yose&parameters=particulates,

Got any good suggestions for a 5 or 6 day loop in SEKI? I presume this would mean trying to snag some kind of walk-up permit and I've no idea how likely that is at the end of July, when others may be making the same decision to avoid YNP...
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:02 pm

I was out there for five days a couple weeks back. Went over Avalanche, Elizabeth and across the Tablelands. Would not do Avalanche again - starting at Rowell Meadow (if you have a second car to leave at Wolverton) is a better option. Gives you more time in the Tablelands and less time hauling your tired @$$ up stone step after stone step for miles. If you don't want cross country, the HST to Crescent Meadow and the shuttle to Wolverton works.
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby ctfshjohn » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:12 pm

how did this one start ?
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Justin-T » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:30 am

Haven't seen any news on how it started. Typically its discarded cigarettes, unextinguished campfires or lightning.

Does anybody know the meaning of the quoted # of acres? More specifically, it was listed as 9,200 acres yesterday, 12,500 acres today. Does the 12,500 include the areas that are now burned out, or is it just the area that is currently burning? I think the relatively small increase from yesterday to today is an encouraging sign, but the 5% contained statistic suggests its going to be burning for many days yet.

(Thanks for the SEKI feedback AT. Starting to think about a multi-day loop in the Mineral King area of Sequoia NP, anybody got experience there, am I likely to be able to get a walk-up permit for late July?)
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Phil » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:49 am

Hey Justin,

The total acreage burned is what they use. It'll be several lines as the area expands, hotspots, mopup, etc.

The reason for the slow spread is humidity. It's been very humid for weeks.
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:23 am

Yeah, I think someone got careless. Wondering if someone started a campfire at Hite Cove. Or backed into weeds with a hot muffler.

I would suspect it would be hard to get a walk in at Mineral King unless you're there midweek. Don't forget your tarp to wrap up the car. Say hi to the marmots.
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Justin-T » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:22 am

Plan would be to arrive Monday morning, hoping for same day permit, but OK with one starting Tuesday or Wednesday, sounds like that might work?

And the tarp for marmots thing is really still a factor?
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:46 am

They conquered chicken wire. Now the thing is the car taco - drive on the tarp, tie it up around the car.

and there are worse things than camping in Cold Springs campground and day hiking til tomorrow.
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Justin-T » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:44 pm

OK, I've found the NPS recommendation to do this at Mineral King, but it states that this is until "mid-July". Given that this would be in late-July, would you still suggest its needed?
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:35 pm

Given the cost of a tow truck coming all the way in to tow your car all the way out, and then the cost of repairs at a mechanic in Three Rivers (or towing all the way to Visalia and repairing there) is it worth the risk?
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Justin-T » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:43 pm

True. :D

Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon looks like a tempting third alternative...
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:53 pm

The river was being waded, where that bridge is out, a couple weeks ago. So probably a good time to do it. Very busy tho.
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Re: Ferguson Fire - smoke reports etc

Postby Justin-T » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:53 pm

Yes, Mineral King area seems to have more going for it, several options I can see and should be more solitude. Unless there’s a very sudden dousing of the fire I think we’ve decided to just head to the southern Sierra and wing it, with a 16x20 tarp and some rope added to the checklist...
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