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Hiking During Fire Season

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

Moderators: Wickett, dan

Hiking During Fire Season

Postby ExileOnMainSt17 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:40 am

Hey guys,

As someone who hasn't hiked during an active fire season like this one, I've got a couple questions. Now I know conditions change rapidly and nobody has a crystal ball that may happen but still would like y'alls opinion on the situation.

My girlfriend and I are slated to start a 5 night trip on September 20th in Yosemite. A lot can happen in 12 days. But given the current conditions of smoke and fire hazards, is smoke a big hindrance to a trip? Should we cancel and save this trip for maybe the spring?

I'm just looking for someone who has experience hiking in similar conditions like this, and hopefully can share their experience and whatnot.

Thanks everyone. Hope those of you who live in the area will be out of the paths of these fires and all stay safe!
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Re: Hiking During Fire Season

Postby Phil » Tue Sep 08, 2020 5:44 am

As someone that's both hiked in active fires and now has lived intimately with smoke and fires for almost a month, and can't even really smell smoke anymore, it's hard to advise you without bias. I've just quit caring about it unless it's about to burn down my house again. Flaming tree trunks and my chainsaw are old news these days.

Along with your weather report, check the air quality. Smoke can be anywhere from unhealthy, to making exertion difficult or unadvisable, to just an annoyance that wrecks your view. It's really a personal call based largely on your preexisting health situation and what you're willing to tolerate. With fire, if it's bad or dangerous, and it's known ahead of time, they'll usually make the call for you and close down the area. If you find yourself in it, go downhill and/or toward water, and find a route to safety that has low fuel loads that will burn more slowly rather than as an inferno like tall grasses, heavy understory brush, or trees. At all costs, if the canopy is on fire, avoid that. If smoke is an issue, wet a bandana and put it over your face as a filter. Move pretty quick, and look up often.
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Re: Hiking During Fire Season

Postby balzaccom » Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:19 am

Right now virtually all of the national forests south of Tahoe are closed due to extreme fire danger, so any planning right now is wishful thinking.

I would suggest looking at the Caribou Wilderness east of Lassen, or the Trinity Alps. Might be your only viable options.
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