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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wildfire


I went back to Tahoma, just a few days later... to find it burning. Ash fell from the sky and the glacial rivers ran brown and black as fire encroached from the Norse Peak fire to the north-east.


I hiked in, and then while I slept the fire nearly quadrupled in size to 44,000 acres. When I got back to Sunrise I found it closed and evacuated of visitors. With every breath in I felt the smoke, and by the end of a long hike on the Northern Loop I was left in worse shape than my much longer hike here several weeks ago. I saw the local heard of mountain goats in the meadows, and then again taking refuge from the heat on the slopes on my way back.


Sunrise should be fine, but the fire already burned a part of the Pacific Crest Trail I remember fondly from my very first solo backpacking trip. Meanwhile in Oregon fire encroaches on Cascade Locks and runs through the sisters, and across Mt. Jefferson...

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Birthday

Details swarm down in a hail... incessant, like uplift and erosion. I visited an integral part of my home, Tahoma, for my 29th birthday. It was great fun to peer into the landscape with my brand new Monarch 5 10x42 binoculars (I've never owned a pair) and both project myself into the landscape as well as simply marvel at the sheer faces and their interlocked unity and diversity. A sea of clouds floated out over the west, and I could watch airplane specks emerging from it out of Seatac. Equally, I could look between establishments of lichen at the tiny fractures and loose clasts of andesite and sub-alpine soils.

Dust from rockfall was more or less constant on the face of the Willis wall.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total Eclipse, Oregon

The drama of a sun being dimmed to direct visibility by the smoke of wildfires has a kind of subtle sublimity when those fires and resulting perpetual sunsets are close by and not contained-- but this past weekend I felt safe despite occupying a ridge between three or four of them, since they were well known and closed off. On the pacific crest trail I remember walking through radical double-sunrise graced barbecues and little was as sensually impressive. But yesterday was August 21st, 2017, and from that ridge I had the privilege of seeing a total solar eclipse. I only wish Justine was there with me! I will have more to post about my visit to her, and to Zion National Park and other parts of the Southwest.

I went to Three Fingered Jack because I remembered this dramatic view from 2008 on a section hike through the area, and because the summit of Mt. Jefferson became in-accessible due to the fires. 

It turned out to be a wonderful spot from which to witness a series of brooding ballets of smoke and mountaintops, and then, of course... an astronomical alignment of me and many others on the earth and the two celestial bodies that occupy our skies and instigate our cycles of life and dream.

Western Pasqueflower seed heads at smokey sunset.
A lake catching a glint of the sun like fire.
Three Fingered Jack from that same viewpoint on the PCT.
Sun descending into the burn.
Someone else there to watch the eclipse, looking out at Mt. Jefferson.
The smoke level was sometimes like an ocean obscuring everything around us, often even much more than this.
Sunset from my campsite on the ridge, looking at Three Fingered Jack.
Mt. Jefferson on the morning of the eclipse, crossed by the smoke from a fire burning on its flank.
At the moment of totality, looking towards the south at Mt. Washington and the Sisters wilderness, where another fire was burning.
At the moment of totality.
After totality, I took this shot of the crescent sun through my smaller mirror-less camera using the solar eclipse glasses everyone was sporting for the event which allowed you to look at the sun and see it as this brightness.