I thought fire season was over. The wisp of smoke blowing up from the Swan Valley toward Palisade Reservoir gave a clue to the contrary. I had wondered about sunsets for a few days, as the “clouds” looked to be denser than normal in the same location in the sky. I sat there, gazing upon the Western sunset like a cowboy of yore sitting upon his faithful steed, carrying out the patriotic duty of Manifest Destiny, staring off to the west gazing at unconquered lands, thinking to myself “that must be wisps of smoke in the upper atmosphere, blowing in from remaining fires in the thick virgin stands of Idaho pine in remote wilderness.” Complete with thoughts of deep connection to nature and the vibrant, harsh, crucible of a life in the Rockies, I watched the sun go down for a few days in a row with this smoky, earthy feature before going back into my climate controlled, overly spacious, hyper capitalist dwelling to have an espresso and retouch my latest artistic production on Apple equipment that costs as much as a car.
As I saw the smoke blow into the valley during the ensuing day, I decided to dismount my philosophical horse of Western ideation and get into my symbolic steed of economic inequality and fly into the heavens for pure recreation.
Heading northwest, I found the source of the smoke. It was not the white, virgin, monastically spiritual purity of the cycle of forest life 250 miles deep into the wilderness of Idaho. It was a controlled burn, initiated by employees of a massive federal agency, who are paid to start fires in seemingly random locations, while driving off road vehicles, bearing communication gear, and riding around in pickup trucks. And they have fantastic health insurance, and probably all have Bachelor’s degrees.
Oh well. At least the pictures are interesting. And if I lost an engine meandering over this particular national forest, the bitch of a hike out would sell some books. I think I’ll return my cowboy hat to Neiman Marcus; I don’t like it anyway.
“Look! A mushroom cloud! How fast can fly to it?”
Its not often that one can see the crown of the smoke plume. I opted not to climb 5,000′ up to the top out of pure laziness. Trust me, avoiding air pollution from fuel exhaust seemed to not matter in this context.