Sep 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm #1263747
Elizabeth TracyBPL Member
I'm intending to head out for Pear Lake/Tablelands, but just realized the Sheep Fire in Kings Canyon is still burning.
Can anyone report on the smoke situation? How bad is it? Importantly, which way is it drifting? (Pear Lake is a few miles south/southeast of the fire.)
Hoping to get in touch with a ranger, but I'm having difficulty getting a real human.
– ElizabethSep 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm #1649332
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
This link has contacts, but who knows if they're answering the phone?
Looks like they anticipate containment in two days, but that's far from being extinguished.
RickSep 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm #1649344
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"(Pear Lake is a few miles south/southeast of the fire.)"
Quite a few miles, actually. If the prevailing winds were from the north, then smoke would drift to Pear Lake. If the prevailing winds were from the west, I would not worry about it.
–B.G.–Sep 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm #1649485
Amy LauterbachBPL Member
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I hiked the PCT/JMT from Cottonwood Pass to Bishop Pass Sept 15-22. We talked to the back-country ranger near Taboose Pass who said that the intensity of the smoke [starting in mid-July when the fire started] in any given location varies by day, but it generally stays low until about noon every day; then the afternoon winds pick up and moves the smoke up to higher altitudes.
We did not have any significant smoke south of Forester, even in the afternoon. But once we crossed into the Kings River watershed, we had smoke every afternoon. On 3 of the days it was quite annoying – not so bad as to be hard to breath, but definitely smelly, hazy/smokey and with reduced visibility of the mountains.
And to clarify Rick's comment, they do not plan containment in September – the forecast containment is not until Oct 31 (i.e. hoping for rain). As best I understand it, they are currently only trying to contain the western front and the northern front; I believe they are letting it freely burn south and east.
I think you're taking a pretty big risk w.r.t. smoke in the Tablelands area. If the wind does not cooperate, you're likely to have hazy views in the afternoons, potentially quite smokey. If I was planning the trip, I'd reconsider my destination to get out of that area. If you've got an alternate itinerary in mind, say from Mineral King, you might do that instead.
Of course, if the wind is coming from the south, you'd be AOK. It's a gamble.
AmyLSep 28, 2010 at 5:19 pm #1649731
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Quite a few miles, actually. If the prevailing winds were from the north, then smoke would drift to Pear Lake. If the prevailing winds were from the west, I would not worry about it."
The prevailing winds are not typically from the north in that area. I was in the Headwaters of the Kern from 9/18-9/21 and could see the smoke to the north of the Kings Kern Divide. It was always being blown north and east, as one would expect. On 9/16, when I was in Bishop before going in, the smoke was pretty bad, another indicator that it was being blown north and east. I think you'll be fine in the Table Lands/Pear Lake area. The wind direction is not cast in stone, but I think the odds are in your favor.Oct 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm #1650573
Elizabeth TracyBPL Member
Just back from two nights out on Tablelands.
Both days, we did not smell or detect smoke until around 5 or 6 pm. It didn't affect our views (in early evening) or make us cough, but it was detectable. Not coincidentally, the winds were blowing from the north both evenings.
The smoke *did* somewhat obscure our views of the stars at night. They were just not as numerous or as bright as we're used to at 10k-11k in the Sierras.
A park ranger left me a voice message recommending Mineral King as the only part of SEKI sure to be free of smoke.
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