Moab in the smoke

Though our air quality is hardly on the scale of the Front Range of Colorado, much less California, it is noticeably smoky here in our desert town.

From the govt Air Quality Index (AQI) interactive map as of 8/24/2020. Moab’s AQI clocks in at 80. Denver, by comparison, rates 166.

The Pine Gulch fire not far from where I’m hiking makes for some a permanent smoky haze noticeable even looking out the front door. In addition to the typical weather patterns that blow from the west carrying smoke, too.


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View from home today looking a the La Sal Mountains close to the Colorado border. … #utah #moab #moabutah #colorado #pinegulchfire

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Rather than drive a couple of hours to play in the smoke, we drive up the road from us (quite literally) and play in our nearby mountains.

The summit area brought us just above the smoke line in town.

But the smoke never went that far away.

More importantly, though, all the smoke reminded me of something I wrote two years ago. Something that, unfortunately, has held up well.

As the years march forward, all the fires are no longer the so-called new normal.

As I wrote, though,

I wrote this article two years ago about the challenges outdoors people are facing with the changing climate. Unfortunately, the material held up as I look at the smoke here in my desert town. And much worse in California by leaps and bounds. 

What did I not predict? How a global pandemic affects travel, economic resources, and effectiveness of our firefighters and first responders outdoors.

So here we are in 2020. I wrote the article just before I went on my GDT thru-hike and faced quite a few of the issues I brought up. And we are seeing it again this summer. With the bonus of a medical pandemic. During an election year.

Times are a-changin’ – Walking in time of weather extremes is an article I’m glad I wrote. It won’t get viewed as much as another Top Ten Tchotke YouTube production, but I think the article brings up some thoughts more critical to those who care about the outdoors more than as a way to max out a credit card.

PHOTO: Collage of the Dust Bowl town of Keota on the High Plains of Colorado.


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