Where have I been the last three weeks? To put it lightly, I have been choking on smoke. Since returning from the Seven Devils trip over Labor Day Weekend, the wildfires in the northwest, particularly in Idaho, have flared up. A fire south of the Devils appeared as well as a large fire just outside of Riggins. There have been some smaller fires near Grangeville and Lewiston to add to the mess. Winds from the south have blown all that smoke into the Lewiston-Clarkston valley and onto the Palouse where the smoke has been so thick at times, you could smell and taste it in the air and feel it in your lungs. Visibility has been cut to less than a mile. It’s been bad enough driving back and forth between school and home, and walking around town is miserable. My wife has had asthma flare-ups bad enough to warrant a prescription inhaler from the doctor. So with the air as bad as it is, I haven’t been out hiking or even photographing the local scenery.
Every couple of days, the winds might change, blowing most of the particulate matter out for a day or two, but it always returns. What we really need is a good storm to come through and not only blow out all of the smoke in the air, but put out the fires. Unfortunately, the long-range forecast calls for more dry weather which means the fires will continue burning. So until the air clears out a bit, it’s unlikely that I’ll be making any trips into the backcountry.