Fleeing Wildfire Smoke – Almost a Tragedy

I have been staying in Pinedale, WY for the last several weeks.  Several wildfires have sprung up locally causing numerous problems.  The one that affected me most was the smoke plumes or threat of smoke plumes.

Last night the smoke from local wildfires was pretty spectacular.

Sunset – Sun through Wildfire Smoke

This morning the wind had shifted from the SW to the NW.  This means that I awoke to overwhelming smoke from the nearby wildfires.  A few days ago the smoke was causing me neurological issues, so I decided to bug out and find a new place to camp until the winds shifted again.

Sky in Pinedale at 2:00 pm

Jackson, WY is only about 70 miles away and showed to be clear on the smoke plume map.  I donned my trusty mask, set the Jeep’s A/C to recirculate and headed through the smoke. The first half hour was pretty intense with thick acrid smoke. 

Driving through the Smoke

Once I broke through the plume the air was fine.  I could still see the fires burning for the next 30-40 minutes.  There were several large crews camps set up along the way.  I can’t imagine trying to fight a fire like that.

Fire at a distance

Arriving in Jackson, I started to look for places to stay.  Guess what??? Jackson is expensive! (It is a town where the billionaires drove the millionaires out of town by raising the prices.)  I found one RV park in town that was $110/night, way over my budget.  Even going into Teton National Park as expensive as those campsite were running about $60 for electric only, no water or sewer (not needed anyway.)

My youngest daughter, Heidi, had told me about some boondocking (er, dispersed camping) sites behind the Elk refuge.  There was still an hour or so of daylight so off I went.

Tetons from the Elk Refuge

Tragedy Afoot

I was pulling through the Curtis Canyon Campground (an organized campground) and got out to inspect a site.  There was water dripping out from the sides of the trailer!!!  Unlocking the door and rushing inside, I discovered that 1) in my haste to escape the smoke I had left the water pump turned on, and 2) driving over the very bumpy roads to get here had turned on the kitchen faucet.  Since the kitchen and tub drain is somewhat clogged, I had the faucet turned off to the side. At least 20 gallons of water had pumped onto the kitchen counter and onto the floor. It had run all through the trailer and was draining out the seam between the trailer floor and walls.  Uggggh.  For someone who is running from mold, this didn’t seem like a good idea.

Sunset from Campsite

Luckily the humidity here in Wyoming is about 11 percent during the day.  I grabbed a few things that were damp and got them outside. Set up a fan on the floor. Opened the cabinet doors. Opened the windows.  Even though it was 50 degrees and dropping quickly (supposed to be in the low 20s tonight), the breeze helped dry things out fairly quickly.  Within a couple of hours all of the visible moisture was gone.  Surely the hidden moisture will be dry by mornings.  I cannot imagine the disaster if I had been camping in a humid area. At least the counter is now clean.

I closed out the evening by preparing and eating a bowl of tuna salad and watching the story of Andrew and Ellen Slaton, a photographer and sojourner I met this morning at camp.  I highly recommend their story. So encouraging.

One comment to Fleeing Wildfire Smoke – Almost a Tragedy

  • Gloris  says:

    Wow! The fire party of your story was gripping, but, as a fellow mold avoiders, I was more horrified by the water disaster! Haha. Glad it dried up.
    Can’t believe the temperature difference there from here in Joshua Tree. Daytime –low 90’s, 60’s overnight.
    I like your new format!

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