Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Journey There

 A few days ago I set myself up by promising to write about interesting sights on the way to my weekend at Donner Summit, and more sights while there.  Strangely, I managed to post a few photos and some text about the journey home.  Well, school work, among other things, threw me off schedule.  Belatedly, here are the two most memorable images made on the way to Donner.   First, I was excited to see many Blazing Star blooming in the area between Spring Garden and Blairsden.  Most were growing near the chain-link fence at the edge of the highway, but I managed to get a few nice shots without the fence.  The early morning light made it easy to get a glowing feeling from the flowers while letting the background go black. 
Then, around Blairsden and Graeagle I got a hint of the smoke coming from the fire south of I-80.  But, when I dropped down into Sierra Valley around Calpine, the smoke was intense.  I could look directly at the sun.  Every few minutes it was bright red, but never too strong to look at directly.  The effects on the respiratory system were obvious, too.  When I got to Donner, it was pretty discouraging.  I can only imagine what it's like around Yosemite now.  Much worse.  Many people who came up to Donner for the weekend chose not to go on hikes.  I hiked a few miles, but definitely felt the effects of smoke on my eyes.  Fortunately, I didn't have any trouble breathing.  The best thing about the experience was the stimulus to talk a lot about fire policies, logging practices, and speculate on whether humanity will wake up and take care of the land. We also talked a lot about trees and smaller plants adaptations to fire and the need for fire for healthy ecosystems.

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