Smoke Season

Just after we returned home from our trip to Minnesota, the kids started school and the dang smoke settled in. Unbeknownced to us at the time, it was here to stay.

After I dropped the kids off at their first day of school I went into town to run up Ski Hill. I got to the top and felt like I had exerted much more energy than normal, then looked across the valley and realized how bad the smoke was. I had no idea then that would have been one of my only runs at Ski Hill this fall because of the smoke.

{First day of school smoke – I’m jaded now and this looks clear! Hah!}
{Ski Hill one week later}

Our house is 25-minutes straight north of Leavenworth, and just 14-miles northwest of us were two significant fires {eventually they merged into one}. These two fires began in early August, then a couple more ignited nearby as summer turned into fall. We live near the top of the valley and the smoke just funneled down the valley and clung to it. For some reason, the town of Leavenworth seems to almost be in a little bit of a bubble. The air is almost never anywhere near as bad there as it is up valley at our house.

{We’re near the “464” dot}

It has honestly been miserable living through this poor air quality. Our air has been “hazardous” and “very unhealthy” almost every day {maybe truly every day?} since Labor Day. Ben has had indoor recess for weeks on end, and Hannah’s outdoor forest school had to close early most days for several weeks at worst, and at best the kids were crammed inside their small classroom.

{This was a view of the worst air quality we endured. We can hardly see the ridge 1/2 mile away from us.}

We have absolutely begun to adapt to this literal season. We’ve brought back our N95 masks, gotten accustom to checking the air quality 150 times a day. We bought a treadmill so we can still exercise inside {this will be nice for winter too}. A few times we’ve ventured outside of the valley or sought clean air elsewhere so we can still enjoy the outdoors.

Thankfully for the last couple of weeks the smoke has cleared out by mid to late afternoon, which means some days when we get home from school the kids can play outside. There was one day last week where they both got to be outside at school, finally!

Living on the west coast we’ve been familiar with a version of smoke season for several years now, as we’ve gotten smoke from Canada and California, as well as other neighboring states, but it’s nothing like living in such close proximity to major fires. We are counting down the days to Friday, when the rain is forecast to begin. I can only hope it puts out the fires quickly and ends our smoke season.

{This photo was taken on Sunday October 16 just down the block from our house, facing north east and looking at the plume of smoke from the White River/Irving Peak fire. The winds shifted and cleared our air for the afternoon!}