Laura, Z, Grandma and I needed to escape the smokey Central Valley air that had plagued the valley for much of July and August and we also wanted a way to unwind from the stresses of a new school year. So what better thing to do than drive straight through the burned heart of the Donnell Fire on our way to Wolf Creek just east of Sonora Pass on HWY 108. Traffic was not allowed to stop on HWY 108 between the Donnell Vista and Kennedy Meadows, so Laura did her best to photograph the scene moving at 20-40mph. She did a pretty great job.
The fire intensity was hit & miss. It completely destroyed Dardanelle Resort, but spared Baker Station and several other cabin properties. Still, the damage of this 38,000 acre fir was pretty sobering. But once across the sierra crest, the air was clean and blue as one can imagine a sky to be. Cirrus clouds drifted over head from time to time making the scenery "pop".
I'll be back soon to take 360 photospheres of the Columns of the Giants which also suffered some intense damage to the trees on top of the western-most portion of the lava flow. It'll be interesting to compare my Science Friday Photospheres with the new ones when completed.
For the fifth year in a row, my dad and I were lucky enough to spend several days salmon fishing at Whalers Cove Lodge on Killisnoo Island. This year's fishing was awful, but the weather and the views were amazing. With high temps in the low to mid-70's with sunny skies and glassy seas, the salmon just never appeared. The entire fleet only averaged 14 salmon per day for the three days we stayed. Last year, my dad and I caught our limit of 12 silver salmon in less than two hours everyday. This was likely one of the worst recreational fishing years on record for SE Alaska. The guides blamed it on commercial trawlers, which likely played a role, but I also suspect warming seas and a July dry spell also played a major role.
My dad and I brought home 88lbs of processed fish, 95% of which was halibut and rock fish. Our guide, Garfield, was also a little aloof and grumpy and not quite understanding that the old folk on board were hard of hearing and needed some direct instruction on how to fish. Overall, this Alaska trip was ranked 4th out of the 5 times we've visited. We'll be back next year with Captain Kevin, a very smart and empathetic man! Hopefully the fish will follow!
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.