Forum Index > Trail Talk > fire danger in late August this year? (Glacier Peak Wilderness)
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zimmertr
TJ Zimmerman



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zimmertr
TJ Zimmerman
PostMon Apr 17, 2023 12:40 pm 
Cyclopath wrote:
zimmertr wrote:
Does anyone know the best place to get historical AQI data?
I asked this question last year and was pointed to a bunch of bad data sources, so be aware of that possibility.
I found an organization that maintains historical data and has a free API. I'll create some information tonight if I have time.

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Cyclopath
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Cyclopath
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PostMon Apr 17, 2023 1:06 pm 
Here we go...

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kiliki
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PostMon Apr 17, 2023 2:33 pm 
Cyclopath wrote:
RyanP wrote:
I agree; historical AQI would be very useful. Otherwise, does anyone have any anecdotal, rough summary of how often wildfire smoke/haze tends to be an issue in late August in that area? Are we talking roughly half of the time, or 70% of the time, or 20% of the time?
No. This is a new phenomenon. It started 5 or 6 years ago and it's too early to be able to say. Fires have always been a thing here but the wind patterns have changed.
+1. Everything has changed in the last 5 years. Everything. We had a big fire start in western WA last year in October. Typically, historically, the weather would get cooler and damper in mid September and fires would go out. And that was on the east side. We didn't have to worry about big fires on the west side. But not only did we have one, and one that started in October, it just wouldn't rain. In fall. So I wouldn't waste your time looking at historical data. Use it to have plan B and C. Btw I've had plan D ruined by smoke. Thus the recommendation to have a changeable/refundable plane ticket.

Cyclopath, gb, Anne Elk
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gb
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gb
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PostMon Apr 17, 2023 5:04 pm 
Since 2015 I've incorporated wildfires, smoke, and wind directions both at low elevations and up to about 750mb in my planning tools. I mostly use Windy for winds and BC Wildfire Service and INCIWEB maps to watch fire behavior. These days after mid-July I always factor these into planning and trip choices and I avoid certain periods altogether. Visible Satellite images are also useful when things are bad. I screwed up here as winds turned out to be less favorable than anticipated.

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Jordan
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Jordan
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PostMon Apr 17, 2023 10:54 pm 
RyanP wrote:
Hello all, first-time poster here. I will be in Seattle in late August for a wedding, so I'm considering sticking around the following week and doing my "big" (probably 6-7 day) backpacking trip of the year there in WA. I have already identified a loop that I'm excited about in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. My biggest concern is wildfire smoke/haze; I just hate hiking when the sky is hazy/smoky, and it seems like a number of trip reports from that area at that time of year (from previous years) have smoke/haze (based on my small sample size from perusing the internet for a few hours). Normally I try to keep a flexible schedule and keep to within driving distance of my home in Denver, CO, so I can alter plans at the last minute to go somewhere with clear skies and weather as much as possible, but on this trip I wouldn't have much flexibility since I'd be flying there. Does anyone have any insight into what level of fire dangers to expect this year? If it's too early to tell, then at what point in the summer do you usually have a feel for fire danger level? Thanks in advance for any feedback! Ryan
Its too early to tell, even for forecasters. I do a multi day trip as well every year about mid august. Some years smoke, others none. It really just depends on which way the wind is blowing that day. Could be fires all around but the air flow is driving the smoke away from you. One year it was so thick with smoke you could not see the sun on a cloudless day. The day after that the wind had shifted and all the smoke was somewhere else.

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Nancyann
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PostTue Apr 18, 2023 9:17 am 
If you are looking for recent anecdotal information for for that specific area, I can tell you that in 2020 we did a weeklong trip that was smoke free the first three days. Then smoke rolled into the Napeequa from a new fire. However, it was mostly concentrated in the valley and we were up above the worst of it, so we still enjoyed the day. Then, like Jordan said in his previous post, the wind switched and we had clear skies the rest of the trip. The following year we did an eight day trip around Glacier Peak mid-August and had no smoke at all because it rained six out of eight days, so it’s going to be a gamble any way you look at it!

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Randito
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PostTue Apr 18, 2023 9:31 am 
RyanP wrote:
quote]A large fire north of Highway 2 west of Stevens Pass will cut off some access. .
Just to clarify, are you saying that there was already a fire north of Hwy 2 west of Stevens Pass that will cut off access, or are you saying that *if* there ends up being a fire there later this summer, then it would cut off access?[/quote] That fire was last summer. Understand that typically it is a couple seasons after a fire before the USFS undertakes the work to reopen roads and trails in an area affected by a fire. This reduces the risks of the public and forest service employees from falling trees, landslides, etc and minimumizes the cost of reopening. So I wouldn't expect those Westside roads to reopen before 2024.

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Kim Brown
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PostTue Apr 18, 2023 10:24 am 
I don't know that the Bolt Fire affected any trail head access that Ryan will be interested in...? (Barclay Lake... I don't think any others...?). Beckler Rv road should be good, is that correct?

"..living on the east side of the Sierra world be ideal - except for harsher winters and the chance of apocalyptic fires burning the whole area." Bosterson, NWHiker's marketing expert
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The Ghost of Bear 380
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The Ghost of Bear 380
~SJ~
PostTue Apr 18, 2023 12:10 pm 
Kim Brown wrote:
I don't know that the Bolt Fire affected any trail head access that Ryan will be interested in...? (Barclay Lake... I don't think any others...?). Beckler Rv road should be good, is that correct?
Bolt Cr aftermath doesn't affect any trailhead @RyanP would start from. Beckler River Rd is already open, but most spur roads are still closed due to fire hazards.

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rossb
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PostWed Apr 19, 2023 12:44 pm 
Nancyann wrote:
it’s going to be a gamble any way you look at it!
I agree. Short term weather forecasts are remarkably accurate. Long range forecasts are the opposite. A weather forecast (or fire forecast) made months in advance is not very accurate. In general, these long term fire forecasts are also for a big region, like the whole state. Thus you could have a situation where sure enough, there are a bunch of fires (just like they predicted) but they are well south of where you are. Then there are the winds, as mentioned. There might be a big fire that doesn't bother you for days, and then just like that, the wind shifts, and it gets nasty. As mentioned, I would pay more attention to where it has burned recently. If a place has burned in the last decade, it is less likely to burn again. If it does burn, it is more likely to be a slow burn (not a really big one). The further east you go, the more likely it is to burn, so keep that in mind when looking at past records. A place that has no record of a fire, and is east of the crest may be "ripe" for a big fire, so to speak. That doesn't mean it will happen this year, but it could.

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RyanP
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PostFri May 12, 2023 2:39 pm 
Thanks all for the great info and tips in this thread. I neglected this for a few weeks because I went backpacking and then work happened. I'm still leaning on doing this trip, but as suggested by people here I will make sure that my flight is refundable in case it seems smoky/hazy. I'm still confused about the road status. My plan is to start/end at the Little Giant Pass trailhead. To get there, it looks like I need to basically head East on US-2E until I get to the Coles Corner area, then head NE to Lake Wenatchee/Fish Lake area, then North on the Chiwawa River Rd to the trailhead (at least that's what Google is telling me; I've never been to the area). So is US-2E itself closed? Or is one of the other roads (like the last/Chiwawa road) closed? Or are they currently open but they might close as we get in to summer? If there is questionable road access, I won't book the vacation time at work for this trip. Thanks again Ryan

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Jordan
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PostSat May 13, 2023 9:07 am 
Your directions are correct and nothing at this point is closed. Hwy 2 is open. Havent checked but the Chiwawa rd I would guess is open now. (I have seen it close in summer due to fires before). Beckler river road isn't part of your trip except that you pass by it on Hwy 2. I was up to Little Giant last year and the trail was open even though there were still fires smoldering on Buck Creek pass, which is close. And for those wondering, the only spur road I saw closed off Beckler River road two weeks ago when I was there was one of the first spur roads and maybe a second. Most were open but for snow up higher.

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Jordan
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PostSat May 13, 2023 9:24 am 
Where do you plan on going from LGP? I did a LGP to BCP loop on a HOT august day last year. Napeequa valley was awesome but hot and buggy. Wish someone had warned my about the bugs and stinging nettles in the valley. Black biting flies and deer flies, also biters, were the worst I've ever seen. Deet was worthless. There was no getting away from them other than a long sleeve and pants or to just keep moving. Stinging nettles are so big and heavy they were stinging my knees through my hiking pants and they were all along the napeequa trail, it was constant. I ended up with small blisters on both knees the next day, never had that happen before. Instead of spending the night at High Pass I ended up doing the entire loop in 14hr and 45minutes. It was a great experience and looking back I wish I would have stopped and looked around more. Good luck to you, hope this helps you to enjoy your experience.

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RyanP
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PostSat May 13, 2023 11:30 am 
Thanks Jordan. I didn't realize there was a fire on Buck Creek Pass... I was planning on hiking right through there. Do you know how big the fire was? If much of the area burned down, then maybe I'll change my plans. My plan is as follows: Day 1: Park at Little Giant Pass trailhead, do the annoying road walk, hike up to Spider Meadows or so Day 2: To Lower Lyman Lake or Cloudy Pass or so Day 3: To Image Lake or so Day 4: To Buck Creek Pass Day 5: To High Pass, then attempt to get up and over to the Louis Creek area. If that's too hard, then go down to the upper Napeequa Valley. Day 6: To Butterfly Butte. I fully expect the downhill stretch by Louis Creek Falls (to drop down to the Napeequa Valley) to be the trickiest part of the trip for me. Day 7: Down to Napeequa Valley, up Little Giant Pass, and back out to trailhead. A brutal day because of the huge amount of downhill (and a fair amount of uphill too), but the pack will be light by that point and it's the last day so I'll deal with it. So it's basically the popular Spider Gap/Buck Crk Pass loop, but with some more adventurous/masochistic hiking the last couple of days once I'm warmed up and the pack is lighter. I figure I'll do the popular/crowded portion during the week (this trip will be from Sunday - Saturday), when it hopefully won't be too crowded (?), and then as the weekend comes I'll be in the less-visited areas. If you (or anyone else) have recommendations for improvements to this itinerary, please let me know. Yeah, I'm worried about the combination of heat and bugs. Do you know what the temps were on your trip last year? I'm used to hiking in the Rockies, where there is basically no heat and no bugs by late August. If I could choose my time of year for this trip, I would probably choose September, but I'm already out there for a wedding right at the end of August, so that's my only choice. I've never backpacked in WA, so I'm hoping it's worth it. Were the bugs bad in the evening/night, or just during the day? I normally use a tarp/bivy combo, but if the bugs are expected to be bad in the evening/night then I'll bring my full tent.

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Nancyann
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PostSat May 13, 2023 9:32 pm 
Possible good news about the bugs…if you go late enough in August, you may miss them. I just checked my TR from 2020, and I made several comments about how there were no bugs anywhere in the Napeequa. We started our trip September 1. Also, someone had completely brushed out the Napeequa trail right before we used it, maybe hunters getting ready for the high hunt.

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