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Thread: Ferguson Fire

  1. #1
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    Default Ferguson Fire

    Iím reading that they have closed Hwy 140, as well as Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and the Mariposa Grove due to heavy smoke from the Ferguson Fire. Right now, they plan to have it closed through Sunday, but that could change if the conditions do not improve. As of right now, Tuolomne Meadows remains open, but they are saying to expect smoky conditions and limited services.

    Has anyone heard from anybody on the JMT in the last few days about how the fire is affecting them? We had to hike through some light smoke in 2012 from a fire south of Vermillion/Edison Lake in 2012. Not pleasant, but it never really threatened to put an end to our hike.

    My two sons and I are planning to southbound out of Tuolomne on 7/31. Iím keeping an eye on the fire through news reports. Weíre spending two nights in Mammoth before the start of the hike, so I can make adjustments to my plans at that point if necessary. But my window of opportunity is tight this year and if I canít start on the 31st, I may not be able to do the hike this year.

    So if you hear anything, please post, as will I.

  2. #2

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    Following closely

    Suppose to head out NOBo on the 13th

  3. #3

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    As of right now, you can still start out of TM based on the information I have heard. TM is where they are diverting northbound hikers that would be heading into Yosemite valley.

    I am watching closely too. I start NOBO August 5th. I still have almost a month before I will be up to TM though. Lots of time for this fire to be contained or for others to start.

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    Default Ferguson Fire

    Not much to report today. The fire grew to over 45,000 acres by this morning, up from about 39,000 acres a few days ago when the thread started. Despite the growth of the fire, containment is up to 29%, which is good. I have to think that the Yosemite Valley closure will be extended past Sunday, but I could be wrong.

    Air quality in Tuolomne is reported as ďModerateĒ for today (and the last few days). For health reasons, Iíd obviously prefer there be no smoke, but at least Lyell Canyon (for 9 miles or so) is relatively flat until you start up the grade toward Donahue Pass.

    Iíve still not heard anything from anyone actually in the area, but Iím heading up to Mammoth Lakes on Sunday and into Tuolomne early Monday. Iíll try to report back on the conditions in the area.

    Thereís a Tuolomne webcam here:

    https://www.nps.gov/customcf/webcam/...F4530A57767712

    Itís hard to tell the conditions from the webcam as itís not the highest quality picture, but at least you can see Fairview Dome. I have had conditions near my house where it was so smoggy that I couldnít see the 10,000 ft mountain just a few miles behind my house.

    If any of you are into photography on the trail, Iíve been looking forward to getting some nice early morning shots of Thousand Island Lake. It will be interesting to see what they sky looks like behind it.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaFireMedic View Post
    Not much to report today. The fire grew to over 45,000 acres by this morning, up from about 39,000 acres a few days ago when the thread started. Despite the growth of the fire, containment is up to 29%, which is good. I have to think that the Yosemite Valley closure will be extended past Sunday, but I could be wrong.

    Air quality in Tuolomne is reported as “Moderate” for today (and the last few days). For health reasons, I’d obviously prefer there be no smoke, but at least Lyell Canyon (for 9 miles or so) is relatively flat until you start up the grade toward Donahue Pass.

    I’ve still not heard anything from anyone actually in the area, but I’m heading up to Mammoth Lakes on Sunday and into Tuolomne early Monday. I’ll try to report back on the conditions in the area.

    There’s a Tuolomne webcam here:

    https://www.nps.gov/customcf/webcam/...F4530A57767712

    It’s hard to tell the conditions from the webcam as it’s not the highest quality picture, but at least you can see Fairview Dome. I have had conditions near my house where it was so smoggy that I couldn’t see the 10,000 ft mountain just a few miles behind my house.

    If any of you are into photography on the trail, I’ve been looking forward to getting some nice early morning shots of Thousand Island Lake. It will be interesting to see what they sky looks like behind it.

    Thanks for the details, looking forward to your report!

  6. #6

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    Im following a dude on Instagram that is currently nobo on the JMT and reported having storms and hail for 14 days in a row...

    Does that sound right to anyone? Everything Ive read about the area said the weather is typically benign and you might catch the occasional storm in the afternoon but 14 days of storms and hail in a row seems a bit extreme

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue indian View Post
    Im following a dude on Instagram that is currently nobo on the JMT and reported having storms and hail for 14 days in a row...

    Does that sound right to anyone? Everything Ive read about the area said the weather is typically benign and you might catch the occasional storm in the afternoon but 14 days of storms and hail in a row seems a bit extreme
    14 in a row would be kind of unusual

    Storms are frequent in summer
    And they come with hail and sleet at high altitudes

    But they are usually fast moving and dont last long
    Though might seem intense for a few minutes
    I recall hunkering behind rocks at Wanda to get out of sideways blowing cold rain. Promising myself to always bring rain mitts from now on...
    Went over Mather in low vis thunderstorm
    Intense 1/4" hail downpour one day too. Not fun, it hurts and you get wet still. Imagine heaviest rain you ever seen, cant see 100', now make it ball bearings....that melt on you.

    Rain tends to be light drizzle when its prolonged
    Usually doesnt rain at night

    I got rain/hail on at least 5 of 12 days I can remember
    Smoke on a few more

    Trail from trailcrest to WP got 6" hail accumulation the day before i hot there. Plenty was left next day in hot weather.

    Day after i got off, about aug 1, whitney got 2' snow. Many hikers had to bail and skip it. Mtns were dusted with snow for 100 mi you could see off 395 when headed to reno a couple day later.

    So it all depends on you definition of benign.
    Conditions are brief, clear up by next day or so, and temps are not severe, so its pretty benign in my opinion.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 07-28-2018 at 13:24.

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    Regarding the weather, I had 4 consecutive days of heavy thunderstorms in 2012. We rode the first one out high up on Muir Pass, it turned into a dense hailstorm. All told, 7 of our 18 hiking days had rain, although 3 of the days were pretty mild. But I could see someone encountering 14 days of rain/hail. Sierra thunderstorms are generally pretty easy to deal with. Rain pants are good to bring and will make things more comfortable if you encounter rain, but arenít absolutely necessary. A decent rain jacket IS absolutely necessary when hiking in the Sierras IMO.

    On to the current conditions, I just arrived in Mammoth Lakes and thereís a pretty good layer of smoke over the town. Itís making my eyes water, and I am used to being around smoke. They are saying that conditions in Redís Meadow are pretty bad right now, and most here are advising against trying to start the trail in Tuolomne right now.

    So at the moment, it looks like Iíll be in Mammoth for a couple days, then do the 6 hour drive back home. We left a car at Whitney Portal, conditions there werenít too bad. Iíd do Whitney if I could get a permit. But there was a haze all along the Eastern Sierra while driving up 395, and it got a lot worse north of Bishop as we approached Sherwin Summit and Mammoth Lakes.

    The view through the windshield about 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes. There are 13,000í mountains at the left side of the picture, but you canít see them through the smoke.

    I wish I had better news.
    D783A278-1AF8-4BF3-AEB0-A32E8212124A.jpeg

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    Plan B:
    We went to the permit center in Mammoth to see about starting farther south. That wasn’t a problem, but there were no permits available to exit at Whitney Portal, where we left the car. So we will come back tomorrow to see if there any available. We are looking at entering at Duck Pass or Devil’s Postpile, but it will all depend on the permits available tomorrow.

    Smoke was less in the morning here in Mammoth than it was last night, but I expect thats because of the lower winds, and may come back up this afternoon. We are hearing that some people are still starting in Tuolomne, but I have no desire to hike through the smoke. It just wouldnt be fun, nor healthy. I already feel like I smoked two packs of cigs just waiting in Mammoth (and I don’t smoke). There will still be some residual smoke if starting near Mammoth like we are seeking to do, but it should ease up as we move farther south past Virginia Lake, etc., as winds are blowing out of the southwest.

    We are getting most of our info on conditions from the Ranger Station, Mammoth Mountaineering (great shop), and other hikers hanging out in Mammoth.

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    The fires seem to have a rhythm, smoke conditions worsen as the day wears on. If it is that smokey on the Mammoth side of the range, I have to believe the conditions on the trail are going to be much worse. You have a long isolated hike from Reds Meadow to Whitney, maybe you should consider approaching Whitney from the south? I'm not there to know the local conditions, but I am sure the rangers could offer some advice.

    I understand how disappointing this must be. I hope you can make the most of it and enjoy your trip.
    ďFor of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.Ē


    John Greenleaf Whittier

  11. #11

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    Yikes..

    Im suppose to fly into Mammoth next week then start a nobo thru out of Cottonwood Pass

    That smoke from the photo is much thicker than I was expecting

    Thanks for reporting back @ DaFireMedic

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    Blue Indian:
    You may be OK, depending on your itinerary. It sounds like you are a good 3 weeks or so from Reds Meadow. Keep an eye on things over the next week, and hopefully you can get a better idea of when this thing might blow over. If I were in your shoes, I’d plan to move forward with the hike. I’m told the smoke has been worse the last few days because of the firing operations they are doing to remove fuel from the path of the fire. There’s a good chance conditions will be much better in a few weeks. You might make a call out to Yosemite to see what they think.

    Imscotty:
    We are looking at the possibility of something Northbound, but are leaning more toward abandoning the JMT plans altogether and just hiking in farther south, maybe spending a few days around the Rae Lakes area. We could go in at Kearsarge, Sawmill, or Baxter passes. It is disappointing, but I’ll get over it, especially if I get a few good days in the backcountry with my boys.

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    Blue Indian:
    One more thing (unfortunately, I can’t edit posts), I just heard that the estimated date for full containment of the fire is August 15.

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    Has anyone heard of an alternate route from Fresno to Tuolumne? I was planning on taking the YART but it isnít running since 140 is closed

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    Beautiful day here in Mammoth. There was some smoke when I got up at 7 am, but no smoke that we can see at 2:50 pm. Nice and clear at the moment with a few dark clouds coming in (it’s supposed to rain from
    about 4-6 pm).

    We got permits to enter at Mammoth pass and pick up the JMT at Red Cones, and exit at Whitney Portal. We are getting ready to head in now, so this will be my last post till we exit. I wish you all the best on your hikes.

    Jilltraxler: I don’t know of any alternate routes if Yarts isn’t running on 140. Hopefully it will be open before you leave, but I would call Yarts and see what they might recommend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jilltraxler View Post
    Has anyone heard of an alternate route from Fresno to Tuolumne? I was planning on taking the YART but it isn’t running since 140 is closed
    Since my hike has ended with a bailout on the west side through Vermilion, we ended up in Fresno. Today, we rented a car from Enterprise at the Fresno airport and started to drive towards Sonora Pass, as Tioga Pass through Yosemite was closed. When we got near to Sonora Pass, we found out that it was closed as well.

    We ended having to go even farther north to Ebbits Pass, nearly a 6 hour total drive from Fresno to Mammoth. From Ebbits Pass, we could see the dense smoke from a fire south of there that appeared to be right where Sonora Pass would be, and it was obvious why it was closed.

    Yarts will not be able to get you over to Tuolomne right now, and not likely for a few more weeks. Tuolomne looked pretty bad as far as smoke when we drove south on 395 today past the 120.

    If money is not a big issue, you could rent a car from Enterprise, drive it to Mammoth, and drop it off at the Enterprise at Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite airport. You could then take Yarts to Tuolomne, or start your hike at one of the entry points near Mammoth (Reds Meadow, Duck Pass, Mammoth Pass, etc.). It cost us about $280 to rent the car for 24hrs and the drop off fee for leaving it Mammoth. A steep price, but we had little choice, as we had to pick up my truck in Mammoth.

    It’s not cheap, but it is an option. I’m not sure if there is another one until the fires die down.

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