Labor Day Weekend, August 31st the wind changed direction blowing dense smoke in to Yosemite Valley from the Rim Fire less than 20 miles north for the first time. A burnt sun illuminated the valley floor and it felt more like viewing a scene on distant Venus than one on Earth. The pungent smell of a burnt forest filled the air and burned the eyes. Many had fled Yosemite Valley and though a good number of people remained the crowds that normally fill the valley on the last holiday weekend of summer never materialized. To the north, the fire continues to threaten several groves of redwoods that have survived thousands of years. We noted several weary fire crews had stopped in the valley to rest, their normally bright yellow jackets stained much the same color as the sky. Ash fell from the sky like a light snow but the valley was stifling hot and muggy. Eventually the smoke proved too much and the sun totally disappeared leaving the valley veiled in an eerie darkness. It may be up to 3 weeks before fire crews have the fire fully contained.

I noted a bicyclist that had pulled up to the edge of the Merced, laid his bike down to have a cigarette. Guess he figured he picked the wrong time to give up smoking. A few people made matters worse by lighting BBQs and campfires in an effort to save their holiday weekend but the effort seemed futile. With the air full of smoke I can't imagine anyone could really enjoy the flavor of smoky meats fresh off the grill.

© Darvin Atkeson

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