Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Rocks, smoke, and chipmunks

It's good to be back on some serious trails again. Badger and I hiked up Independence Peak, in Pence Park, South of Bear Creek and Kitteridge, last week. It was more demanding than Panorama Point being a little further, about a hundred feet more elevation gain, and fewer switchbacks. Still, there were a lot of people out and, if you've been reading this blog, you know that I consider that a plus.

If you're on the Eastern Slope of the Rocky Mountains, you might have noticed a more-golden-than-usual sun lately. When I wrote about sky colors, I neglected to mention that some of the most beautiful (and weird) displays are caused by things you don't want in your lungs. If you've ever seen any of the images from Mars, that sky is the opposite of ours - red during the day and bluish at sunrise and sunset. NASA thinks it has to do with Mars dust, which has magnetite (basically rust) in it.

I sorta felt like I was back in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The forest fires causing this is almost 400 kilometers (over 240 miles) away, but the prevailing winds are from west to east here. I've read that much of the topsoil in Brazil is blown across the Atlantic from the Sahara Desert in northern Africa.

I remember a fire in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia that made Selma, Alabama look like the woods just outside town were burning.

The Smokies in the Appalachian Mountains were known to be smokey long before Europeans moved in. The valleys and hollows created natural channels that captured and held aerosols from campfires and natural forest fires all over the East. With industrialization, acid rain from nearby Copperhill, Tennessee became a serious problem.

The stars of this trip are these fellas.

Chipmunks were all over the rocks and they seem to have no fear of humans.

How does the wildlife in your area behave around humans? Do wind patterns there collect smoke, dust, or pollution, or do they clear them out? How?

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