Author Topic: Wild fires disturbing your tour?  (Read 608 times)

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Offline SwampYankee

Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« on: July 20, 2021, 10:53:46 pm »
Having crossed the US going west over the past 2 months we’ve arrived in Twin Bridges and find the TransAM route closed along 43 into Wisdom and Sula. Fires  burning all around Lolo Pass with sections of RT 12 closed we read and we see new fires in Oregon spreading around Walla Walla and along the Lewis & Clark route. Anyone else having their trip rerouted daily?

SW
Travel well, kjr

Offline staehpj1

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2021, 06:23:19 am »
Not on the road now, but have had issues with fires in the past.  In addition to fire danger breathing the smoke every day can be a real problem even when you don't get rerouted and even from a distance, especially if combined with high elevation.  I have had problems with that on tours and backpacking trips.

These last few years I haven't been out west, but it sounds like it has been a few terrible years fire wise.  Good luck the rest of the way and be careful.  It will be a shame to detour around the section along the Lochsa river I recall that being especially pretty.  Going the other direction we really enjoyed the climb along the river and a dip in the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2021, 09:04:20 am »
One year (early July 2001) was crossing WA, west to east,
on the Northern Tier's State Route 20 and
just was starting to climb the west side of the mountains at Marblemount
when fires on the eastern side of the state shut down many miles of WA State Route 20. 
For me, there were no 'route work arounds.'
Packed out and flew home.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2021, 09:43:34 am »
One year (early July 2001) was crossing WA, west to east,
on the Northern Tier's State Route 20 and
just was starting to climb the west side of the mountains at Marblemount
when fires on the eastern side of the state shut down many miles of WA State Route 20. 
For me, there were no 'route work arounds.'
Packed out and flew home.
That sucks.  I bailed on one smoky bike tour and one smoky backpacking trip, but for health reasons on both counts.

The bike tour I went from sea level to 10k plus feet and 100 F heat right off the bat and had altitude sickness (HAPE).  I tried to take a break and recover, but that didn't work rode to lower elevation, not low enough, called my doc, he okayed flying home.

The backpacking trip I was just miserable coughing constantly, changed my route and circled back to the start on a shorter route (probably in violation of my permit).

The Sierras are my favorite place to backpack, but recent years have me a bit afraid to deal with the risk of dealing with fires and smoke on any long trips.  Same for many touring destinations out west.

Offline ray b

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2021, 02:18:41 pm »
Right. Anyone who's travelled in the west in the past few decades has stories to tell.

Currently on the GDMBR.

Many thanks to Carla Majernik and company for her posts and recommended re-routes on fires that directly impact specific tours like NT, Lewis and Clark, and GDMBR.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline jamawani

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 10:14:17 pm »
In 1988, I biked X-USA during record heat.
Barge traffic on the Mississippi was halted because there wasn't enough water.
That was the year of the massive Yellowstone fires.

I was camping at Green River Lakes, southeast of Jackson.
I had hiked into the backcountry and by the time I came out, the one road out as closed.
Since the campground was converted into camping for fire fighters, it was safe to stay there.
(The crew chief sure didn't want me biking out.)

Since I had years of restaurant experience, I helped the food contractor.
Prepped and served for the fire crews for a few days.
All in all a very positive experience - albeit a little smoky.

>> I thought I could find the photo of the lady who was the food contractor.
But that album must be buried somewhere deep in the basement.
For archaeologists to find 5000 years from now.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2021, 03:11:15 pm »
Having crossed the US going west over the past 2 months we’ve arrived in Twin Bridges and find the TransAM route closed along 43 into Wisdom and Sula. Fires  burning all around Lolo Pass with sections of RT 12 closed we read and we see new fires in Oregon spreading around Walla Walla and along the Lewis & Clark route. Anyone else having their trip rerouted daily?

SW

What did you do for a detour from Twin Bridges?

BTW..I am on the east coast. Earlier this week the smoke here was pretty bad considering how far away we are.

Offline wildtoad

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2021, 11:09:10 am »
Have had several outdoor activities (day rides, centuries, short tours, canoe/kayak overnights, backpacking trips, etc.) postponed or cancelled during the last several years in CA/mountain west due to wildfire smoke. For me, the biggest impact has not been the actual fire areas, but the far-reaching impacts of wildfire smoke which can cause very unhealthy air quality hundreds of miles away from a fire. Not to be overly dramatic, but I've seen smoke impacts during the last 2 years that I would describe as almost apocalyptic (e.g., last year's lighting caused fires near the Bay Area).  Don't mess around w/ bad air quality...you might think you are a picture of health, but being out and exerting yourself in that stuff is bad news all around.

A now critical component of my short/near term tour planning are the real time ground level smoke, cloud level smoke, and air quality maps available via various weather apps, etc. My favorite is what's available on the OpenSnow/OpenSummit apps, but I am already a subscriber to those apps as an avid skier (the OpenSnow forecasters provide the absolute best snow forecasts available IMO). I've used these maps several times this year to help navigate the current fire season and my cycling and canoeing activities in the Sierras. An essential tool if you are in the mountain west during fire season.

Offline gutenburgler

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2021, 03:35:10 pm »
I am in a similar situation. We were in Twin Bridges yesterday, 7/22, and went down to Dillon. Given the closures on 43, and the uncertainty with Lolo, we adjusted our route.

New route goes Dillon, Grant, then into Idaho. Through Salmon, down through Clayton, Stanley, Garden Valley, into Oregon at Ontario. Then back up onto transam route.

It was the best I could come up with without routing north out of Missoula. Air quality in general is a concern through Missoula.

All that being said, we are in Grant now and the smoke is pretty bad. We were planning to cross to Leadore today but not sure if that is a good idea with the smoke.

Looking at airnow.gov, starting to feel a little hopeless.

Offline jamawani

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2021, 05:22:11 pm »
Because the worst smoke runs in a SW to NE band
from the Calif/Oregon border to Boise to Bozeman,
I think it makes more sense to detour northwards rather than thru Idaho.
Most of central Idaho via Stanley has heavy smoke.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/36811604

I might suggest starting a detour from Ennis going north on US 287 -
At Willoe Creek head west on Hwy 2, then north on Hwy 69 to Boulder -
There are service roads aong I-15 to Helena, then Hwy 279 over Flesher Pass -
Then Hwy 200 west thru Ovando to Missoula.

Lolo Pass is iffy right now on the Idaho border.
Safe riding!
The Lolo Creek Fire is not that large.
If it crosses the highway, the closure shouldn't be long.


Offline gutenburgler

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2021, 05:35:39 pm »
Because the worst smoke runs in a SW to NE band
from the Calif/Oregon border to Boise to Bozeman,
I think it makes more sense to detour northwards rather than thru Idaho.
Most of central Idaho via Stanley has heavy smoke.

Thanks, I’m seeing the issue with my plan today. Still have the option to go to Missoula on 93 from Salmon. Even though that corridor doesn’t look so good for AQI on airnow. In a bit of a corner now that we have proceeded southwest from Twin Bridges…

Offline SwampYankee

Re: Wild fires disturbing your tour?
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2021, 03:13:08 pm »
Thanks for all the discussion. Really appreciate this forum and everyone on it. It’s been an invaluable tool for our trip this year.

We left Twin Bridges and cycled to Butte. Figuring this gave us the best and most options. It was a nice ride over Pipestone Pass but a smoky one which certainly impacted our health. it was more difficult then Powder River pass in the Big Horns  because of air quality. We also met a number of cyclists both TransAm and GMDBR and CDT hikers Who were in the same situation trying to reroute around fires. Especially the Alder Creek and the Trail Creek fires.

We Took a shuttle from Butte to Missoula and watched the situation, visited ACA HQ (very nice experience), and waited for a few days. BTW Linked Adventures Shuttle (406) 498-9653, Gina Evans. Great resource and service running a large area east and west from Butte. Use her if needed.

In the end we’ve opted to go home and finish the ride next June. Before fire season hopefully. Even if we continued it would simply be for ego and to say “we did it”. It would not be for the beauty, the enjoyment of the experience, fishing the Lochsa and clearwater, or a relaxing ride through Lolo, Idaho, and the Columbia Gorge. It be smoky, stressful and a required reroute around sections we were really looking forward to touring through. Gotta ride your own ride.

I talked with some folks at ACA including some who had traveled through Lolo on the days before we arrived. No one said go for it.

Stay safe out there everyone, thanks again, SwampYankee
« Last Edit: July 27, 2021, 04:04:19 pm by SwampYankee »
Travel well, kjr