Go climb a rock, Mountain Mamas! Monday, Aug 12th (updated 8/17/13)

When friends come to visit, we enjoy taking them to see the sights in our fantastic Northern California area.  Diane and Tom flew in from Tallahassee FL a few days ago, and wouldn't you know it, the so-named American River wildfire began about the same time.  Located approx 25-30 miles south of us (as the crow flies) in mostly inaccessible terrain, we're not in any fire danger here in Nevada City.  We spotted the smoke on Sunday as we four roamed Grass Valley's downtown streets, but we weren't affected then.  When we awoke Monday morning, a nasty smoky haze enveloped our beloved city, obscuring our view of even backyard trees, burning eyes and throats.  Yikes!  Jimmy checked the Squaw Valley webcams online and saw that this entire region looked clear.  A plan was made to escape and head for the hills!

We packed a picnic lunch, loaded water, binocs and cameras and hit Hwy 20 east (and I-80), up over Donner Pass to Squaw Valley.  Along the way we watched the A/Q progress from bad to worse and questioned the wisdom of our plan.  As we crested Donner Pass, the air miraculously cleared, thank goodness.  (Actually it has everything to do with winds.)  Part of the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains, Squaw Valley is at 6200' elevation - pretty thin air for those Florida flat-landers!  Regardless, they were game for an adventure.

Diane and Tom at the entrance.  Note the Olympic flame.

 A sneaky way to get a picture of the four of us after our picnic lunch - take a picture of us in glass doors opposite.  Jimmy, Diane, Tom and me (standing) to capture our mirrored images!

OK, so we didn't climb a rock; we rode the gondolas up to High Camp.  It is a 2,000' elevation gain.

They were game, but 8,200' was really tough on our Florida friends!  Tallahassee's highest spot is like 205 feet!

 So many rocks to climb, too!  A sliver of Lake Tahoe is in the distant right.

The gondola ride lasts eight-and-a-half minutes, but even so, we could "see" faces in these granite rocks.

Ghost trees.

 Mountain Mamas, at the top and ready to hike.  How about maybe mill around and just breathe?
 Back at Squaw Valley village after an ear-popping descent from High Camp.  Jimmy and I have been here before (but not in 1960) and love it.  (I climbed these rocks!)

A very nice setting for a lovely al fresco dinner on the deck at Jake's in Tahoe City, sans smoke.  Sapphire-hued Lake Tahoe sparkles in the background.  Tom, Diane, me and Jimmy - what fun!  

And then down, out of the mountains, to our home at 3100' in Nevada City.  Here's a picture I took on I-80, with a thick band of smoke tarnishing the sky and el sol locked in smoky haze.  Tomorrow is forecast to be more of the same.  This fire is out-of-control, with multiple forest service and Cal Fire personnel assigned to the fire. Currently 318 resources have been assigned including 18 crews, 16 engines, 4 helicopters, 5 dozers, 4 watertenders, and air tankers as available.  Throw all that you can at it!

Wednesday update:  This fire is only 5% contained, so the smoke (sniff-sniff) will continue.  I am an outdoor person and I miss being able to go outside....

Update:  Saturday, Aug 17th - the American River forest fire has been burning in heavy fuels on extreme slopes for a week now, and has consumed nearly 12,000 acres.  Smoke has been a "significant issue" off and on for us this past week, mornings being the worst, clearing by evening.  Our friends left on Thursday, so they're out of this smoky mess.  Daytime temps have soared into the 90's, so it must be stay-inside-time for me and Jimmy!


  1. Hope Tom&Diane enjoyed Squaw Valley - I know we sure did!

  2. 8200' is a big gain. Did they stay okay?

    1. We came, saw, conquered and left! Not enough oxygen at 8200' for them. 6200' was better, and 3100' was okay. Okay? BTW, Roxanne, you post drop-dead gorgeous George pictures.

  3. Great photos, great friends, clear skies with NO SMOKE! what more could you ask for. I saw the American fire and saw you were safe. Not so lucky in my old haunt in Sonora, where many acres that I mapped back in 2008 are under flames from the Rim fire right now, with Tuolumne City under evacuation advisory. I have friends in that town. Smoke in Grants pass is easing up from the Douglas fire, but the west is definitely in some serious fire mode. Nice to see you having fun with friends.


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