Red Mountain, Red Smoke

Keeping with the wildfire theme, here’s one from last evening’s sunset on top of Big Red Mountain, Siskiyou Crest, Jackson County, Oregon.

The mountain happens to be the spine of a botanical interest area that Goddess and I adopted a few months back.  We’re responsible to monitoring the area for any damage to the ecosystem, as well as keeping an eye out for any new or invasive species.  We’re asked to visit the area several times a year and report any findings so that nothing goes unnoticed for too long.

The area is worth a blog post of its own, which it will have to be.

It does not break my heart to have to go up there and monitor the area.  Just a short 20 mile drive from the house and I’m completely alone.  Very few people visit the summit and while I can see some activity on the roads and trails below, I rarely can hear them, so I’m effectively alone up there.  It’s quite nice.

To our south, in northern California, a wildfire complex called Happy Camp has pushed over 45,000 acres, adding over 12,000 acres on Thursday alone.  Goddess and I were able to see that explosive growth from our house, even though there are a few mountain ranges and quite a few miles (~45 miles) between us and the fire.  The smoke was visible above the closest mountains, but with no real development.  Then about an hour before sunset, it appeared as if a thunderstorm was growing over the fire.  But it was pyrocumulus, a billowing cloud that develops due to intense heating on the ground.  I mentioned to Goddess that its appearance was a bad sign for the firefighters.  We found out today how true that was, as the local weather office passed this info:

 

Happy Camp Complex (image courtesy of US National Weather Service, Medford, Oregon)

I had already planned on visiting the botanical area on Friday, but that looked iffy, as the smoke drifted in and out of the area that I needed to be.  Luckily, the smoke stayed clear the whole time I was there, with the plume passing just to my south and east.

All I needed was sunset.

Red Mountain, Red Smoke

Well worth the effort, although the whole exercise seemed a bit frivolous considering the hundreds of families who may lose their homes in the coming days.

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