One of the advantages of writing these posts so long after the actual events is greater clarity. It’s hard to see the layout of a maze when you’re in the middle of it, but get outside of it, get some height near it, and its pattern becomes clear. You can see where you ran into dead ends, where the winding trails lead.
So looking back our travels of 2012, what do I see?
Smoke and jumpers. But no smoke jumpers.
It was a year of wildfires. The first one we heard about that could affect us was near Crown King, Arizona, between Phoenix and Flagstaff.
We drove up I-17 watching the horizon for plumes of smoke, but didn’t see a whisper. Whew!
On up to Bryce Canyon National Park we went where we hiked our favorite trail, always amazed at how blue the sky can be.
But after a few days, the sky had taken on a noticeable haze…
… and we heard there was a fire raging about 30 miles away toward Zion National Park. That night, we could see how beautiful something so destructive and frightening as a wildfire could be when smoke filled the sky in a dazzling display:
The next day the smoke was even worse:
We didn’t hike far before the smoke made my nostrils burn and Bob’s throat itchy, so we turned back. When the wildfire smoke mixed with incoming rainclouds around the sun, we saw a sunset like no other:
But it was time to head out. After a stay in Great Basin National Park, we headed further north. We passed areas where fires had burned the earth…
Everywhere we roamed during the summer of 2012 we found fires. When they crept close to where we were in Idaho, we moved on to Montana and from there back through Idaho and into Washington…. It seemed that there was always another wildfire just behind us or just ahead somewhere.
All in all, we were lucky. We smelled and saw the smoke, but never the fire.
And as for the jumpers? Tune in next time for part two….