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NevadaGeigle

All that remains of Highland City...Highland Lakes, Alpine County, California.

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Interesting.  Spent a lot of time there for a few deer seasons, walked over those remnants many times, camped on them once, killed a few deer further down the meadow and into the tree line.  That was a dozen years ago, though.  Looks pretty much the same, maybe a little greener.  Very nice.

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Surprised it wasn't more smokey. Our decades of awesome forest mismanagement are working wonders. I've not gone to two backcountry explores because of the Donnell fire. I think the places will be fine but I know it'll be to gross down there now. 

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3 hours ago, SteveHazard said:

Surprised it wasn't more smokey. Our decades of awesome forest mismanagement are working wonders. I've not gone to two backcountry explores because of the Donnell fire. I think the places will be fine but I know it'll be to gross down there now. 

On Friday 8/3, the Donnell fire's effects were very localized.  I would know only because Emily and I got up to Clarks Fork CG about 11AM on Friday and saw a 'small' fire by Donnell Reservoir.  We made camp anyway and started to fish.  Later, we went up the road, back to 108, and talked to the USFS Public Information Officers (PIOs).  In the 30 minutes we were there, the wind shifted 2 or 3 times, once it cleared enough smoke that we could see active fire.  We were listening to the unholy racket of trees falling on the north side of the river canyon (flippin' AMAZING noise). 

There was one spotter plane (I think it was CalFire, not USFS) and a couple of crews not doing much.  Oddly they keep saying how rough and steep the terrain is, and that's true.  But I've also hiked down into that canyon just fine.  It's not impossible.  What's impossible is that once in there, you're stuck. 

Anyway, we left the area Friday afternoon, drove over 108, and ended up at Sonora Bridge CG (Did.  Not.  Like.), making the best of things.  By Saturday night, we were seeing the effects of the Donnell Fire on the east side of the pass.  But the winds kept changing from southwesterly early on, to almost out of due east in the afternoon.  So a smoky day turned into a crystal clear night for us to look at stars.  Further south on 395 (we took a side trip to Buckeye Creek) the air was pretty decent one minute, and then thick with smoke the next. 

Sadly, fishing was the pits for us.  Seems every time I'm fishing under a sky full of smoke and ask, the fishing nearly shuts down.  But, we still had fun. 

Getting home was an adventure, since I found out Saturday night that 108 was closed.  I let the wife know to expect us later than normal via the InReach, and then we took 395->89->88 to get back over the mountains.  Monitor Pass was nasty with smoke (and the kid got the car-pukes), Carson Pass wasn't quite as bad, but most of the way from there and down 88 was thick and choking.  Ugh.

Dardanelles Resort has burned.  Most of the CG's in the area of 108 and Clarks Fork Road are torched.  No telling how bad it will get since the resources just aren't there to deal with it.  Not enough $$$$ at stake to divert or call in CANG planes to dump water/retardant. 

Very sad day for me.  Family has been camping there since my dad was 10 (basically when the area was brand new and opened up to public use).  And don't get me started on Forest Management.  60+ years of doing it wrong will not easily be corrected.

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5 hours ago, desertdog said:

On Friday 8/3, the Donnell fire's effects were very localized.  I would know only because Emily and I got up to Clarks Fork CG about 11AM on Friday and saw a 'small' fire by Donnell Reservoir.  We made camp anyway and started to fish.  Later, we went up the road, back to 108, and talked to the USFS Public Information Officers (PIOs).  In the 30 minutes we were there, the wind shifted 2 or 3 times, once it cleared enough smoke that we could see active fire.  We were listening to the unholy racket of trees falling on the north side of the river canyon (flippin' AMAZING noise). 

There was one spotter plane (I think it was CalFire, not USFS) and a couple of crews not doing much.  Oddly they keep saying how rough and steep the terrain is, and that's true.  But I've also hiked down into that canyon just fine.  It's not impossible.  What's impossible is that once in there, you're stuck. 

Anyway, we left the area Friday afternoon, drove over 108, and ended up at Sonora Bridge CG (Did.  Not.  Like.), making the best of things.  By Saturday night, we were seeing the effects of the Donnell Fire on the east side of the pass.  But the winds kept changing from southwesterly early on, to almost out of due east in the afternoon.  So a smoky day turned into a crystal clear night for us to look at stars.  Further south on 395 (we took a side trip to Buckeye Creek) the air was pretty decent one minute, and then thick with smoke the next. 

Sadly, fishing was the pits for us.  Seems every time I'm fishing under a sky full of smoke and ask, the fishing nearly shuts down.  But, we still had fun. 

Getting home was an adventure, since I found out Saturday night that 108 was closed.  I let the wife know to expect us later than normal via the InReach, and then we took 395->89->88 to get back over the mountains.  Monitor Pass was nasty with smoke (and the kid got the car-pukes), Carson Pass wasn't quite as bad, but most of the way from there and down 88 was thick and choking.  Ugh.

Dardanelles Resort has burned.  Most of the CG's in the area of 108 and Clarks Fork Road are torched.  No telling how bad it will get since the resources just aren't there to deal with it.  Not enough $$$$ at stake to divert or call in CANG planes to dump water/retardant. 

Very sad day for me.  Family has been camping there since my dad was 10 (basically when the area was brand new and opened up to public use).  And don't get me started on Forest Management.  60+ years of doing it wrong will not easily be corrected.

The fire was pretty localized in the beginning it seemed and from the lack of updates I did not get the impression they were doing much. With all the different fires maybe it was just less of a priority. 

I'm not sure which fires the smoke has been coming from but it the smoke was enough to bother my little one around Blue Lakes yesterday so I figured with the fire growing rapidly that backpacking out of the highland lakes area would be a bad idea. The other area I was thinking of was out of the Antelope pack station which would be worse in regards to smoke. I'm hopeful that some of the terrain back there can act as natural firebreaks but I don't know. I'm hoping the places I was interested in don't get hit either. 

Our forest management, or lack there of... If they were not going to let things burn regularly in a healthy manner then needed to do strategic thinning. They done neither. 

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Talking to the USFS PIO (Diane Fredlund, I think), I got the impression that there were no resources to allocate.  There are 3 major fires in CA right now - Mendocino Complex, Carr, and Ferguson.  Those are eating up manpower and equipment resources, and the southern part of the state has diverted a large # of crews to work those fires, while still keeping enough reserves in case something goes off down there. 

From the wind on the 2nd day, I think they bet big on the fire being pushed into 2017's McCormick fire scar.  The problem is, I looked at that burn area 3 weeks ago and there was still plenty of fuel.  A number of trees died in that fire, but did not burn completely.  They dropped their needles, creating a 4-6" mat of tinder within the scar, plus whatever was left in the crowns and the charred trees as well.  I'm pretty sure the fire burned up to it, and into it just enough to get around the hoped-for containment.  Then the wind shifted at some point to almost due west, and they lost it up the river canyon.  From there all that slowed it was terrain, and even that wasn't much help.  Once the fire made it to 108, it had a large, flat, windy run through Dardanelle, Brightman, and the cabin tracts. 

The primary strategy was to protect Dome Rock repeater station and whatever structures they could.  I'm guessing USFS policy prevents creating 'defensible space' around your cabin, since most cabins are surrounded by trees and covered in fuel/leaf litter.  Or if policy does allow it, the owners are just lazy.  Nothing really stood a chance, though.  The canyon is funneling the fire upstream, and although you start getting into barren granite in most directions, the riparian vegetation is ready to burn.  If this fire doesn't make it to Kennedy Meadows, I'll be amazed.

FWIW they have about 400 personnel on the ground.  Based on my familiarity with NIMS and ICS structure, about 45% of that # is overhead (planning, logistics, PIO, command staff, law liason, etc.).  So basically there are ~210 boots and wings to fight a 13,000 acre forest fire.  They need about 1100 to actively stop its spread.  Not that I'm blaming the overhead function per se.  I don't now how top-heavy USFS OH is (Feds, though, probably pretty bad), but you do need a lot of those functions - planning and ops especially. 

If they don't get more people up there soon, the best option is probably to send crews well ahead to the barrens and establish lines in those areas.  But that still lets the fire double in size.  Kid is heartbroken about the Dardanelle Resort being gone  - many afternoons 'wasted' there on the front porch, eatint ice cream and watching the summertime world go by.  My family has been going up there for 55 years, and Emily was the 4th generation to experience the area.  Fishing is dead for a few seasons until the soils restabilize.  Camping among ash and charcoal is no fun. 

I know the USFS does prescribed burns up there in late fall/early winter and late winter/early spring, but I don't know the scale of those.  Oddly, logging activity has really picked up in the area, which is good.  Thinning the forest helps, and they do fuel reduction in the process.  I've seen them let natural fires burn in the area as well, but that policy reversal is recent as well.  The USFS/USDA caved to the Sierra Club assholes, and this is what we get. 

Antelope Pack Station is going to be hit-or-miss on the smoke, depending on the winds.  Going in to Buckeye Creek, the skies were clear and I could see 20+ miles east.  Leaving a few hours later, I could see maybe 5 miles - the shift was that fast. 

I don't really know if I am more sad or angry. 

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Oh, and in a roundabout way, The Orange One is right about CA water policy being related to fires.  One of the big bugaboos about logging is sediment in rivers/streams.  So logging has been heavily limited or cut off in some places, along with fuel reduction burns, in order to save the steelhead and salmon.  So now when things do burn, you're going to get that much more debris in the waters after all.  Of course the steelhead and salmon decline itself is a product of state and Federal mismanagement in the first place, and partly the result of the dam-building spree out West decades ago.  Which itself is related to population expansion (organic and immigration of all types). 

I think I'm just more angry than anything. 

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Spicer is off limits now - I think they’re using it as a water source.  Donnell is still understaffed though.   Listening to radio traffic - they’re extending some ground crew shifts due to lack of personnel and aircraft.  

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