We hauled out of Longview yesterday morning rolling a short ways up I-5 to make our turn east at Hwy 12. Bound for Idaho, Lolo Pass and Montana!
Uh huh. Why don't I never learn? Don't say so loud in public, where I'm headin'?! It just makes Murphy's job that much easier for him... 'course, I suppose a fella could have looked at news and such a little better... to see what lay ahead. ;)
At first I just thought it was just cloudy and foggy, but after a bit it started to sink in, these clouds aren't grey... these suckers are blue... and then, the occasional faint scent of burnt pine trees. Yeah... forest fires.
Got a text from some friends down near Cottage Grove in Oregon. We apparently went through southern Oregon just before a surge of fires erupted all through there.
Up where we're running now, it turns out there's a good sized blaze north west of Yakima and another south west. Maybe it's just me, but when there's enough smoke to have my delicate ol' eyes burning, it takes the shine off a mountain trip.
No problem right? Just keep her pointed east and drive away from 'em! Not so easy. There's six fires straddling the country we were heading for... and four more down below those! I pulled it up on the smartphone... and there's Icons for fires all the way to Yellowstone.
A lot of the same country that was on fire when I rode through in September last year. I guess I/we should get used to it. There's many millions of more acres that have to burn to erase the mess built at the Sierra Clubs et al. behest... The woods themselves are beyond saving. Gonna take a few years to burn all that up so we can start over with a clean forest. Our only hope can be that few more men sacrifice their lives fighting the inevitable blazes.
You either CHOOSE to do proper logging operations to do the work that natural fire does or you CHOOSE to let natural fire burn... or you are CHOOSING to have the forest grow to a thick, sickly, badly overgrown mess that burns with catastrophic rage.
I admire the WISH to nurture a "Natural" forest. It's a pretty fantasy. There's only one problem with it. There are few, if any, natural, un-impacted by man, forests remaining on this continent. 370,000,000 people have a way of spreading their "Impact" around a bit. That means, we have a responsibility to "Manage" the land we live on properly. To make it as abundant and healthy as is possible.
That doesn't mean leaving it to the "whatever happens happens" mindless Disney World fantasy of Fire Fighting Grizzly Bears playing with Rabbits in a sunny meadow. It means realizing that using the products of a forest for the betterment of mankind is NOT an evil, and doesn't require the destruction of the forest either.
The curious thing here is, the devastation of these fires; largely the consequence of litigious intervention by the previously mentioned et al's ... is far deeper and longer lasting than that which even improper logging ever did... kind of like plugging in a non-native, invasive, species of wolf...
Ahhhhh... In the mean time... in an effort to climb out of the smoke we're taking advantage of that bit of hardware we've got on this rig, a steering wheel. So, when we hit the boundaries of Yakima sometime early today I'm gonna cut it hard to port? I think that's sailor talk for left? and roll up the eastern face of the Cascades a ways. Likely cut back east again along Highway 2.
I've heard that the air is clear along through there. Rather than dropping into the Valley between Lolo Pass and Lost Trail pass, around Hamilton... it looks like we'll go through Lake Pend Orielle in Idaho and maybe the Kalispell country of Montana...
It's a rough life when your back-up travel option is Glacier!
Just Rolling Along