This year we were in Stevenson, WA in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.
We had a 6+ bedroom house high on a hill overlooking the river. It was a perfect place for a weekend getaway with a group of families.
About 5pm on Saturday afternoon, my spouse woke me up from a nap and suggested I look out the window.
There was a giant column of smoke from the hillside across the way. By the time the sun had set, we could see the fire from our porch.
We were able to see individual trees go up in flames. The media was reporting that there were approximately 150 hikers trapped on a trail above the fire. We worried about them as we marveled at the power of the fire.
Sunday we woke up to smokey air quality and heat. No one really wanted to go outside. It was hard to breath and ash was falling from the sky. We spent most of the day inside, playing board games and reading.
Monday, as we were packing up, I was feeling sad about not having had a swim adventure. So I convinced D to go down and dip in the Columbia River with me. It looked like it was snowing on the way down to the river; there was that much ash falling from the sky.
That's D with the SUN above his head. That's how smokey it was.
The water felt refreshing, as it was still early enough in the day for the air to not feel awful. We swam upstream for about 25 minutes. We got to a point where we basically were on a treadmill, swimming with almost no progress. So we turned around and headed back. I'm glad I got my swim in, even if it wasn't the greatest ever. I'll have memories of the ash that day.
On the way out of town, I stopped and took this photo. It accurately portrays the air quality that day.
The good news is that all of the hikers were safely evacuated. The bad news is that a lot of a beautiful wildlife refuge has been destroyed.