Last night was warm, and I could feel the weather beginning to change, and when I woke up at 3 AM and went outside to pee there was a strong wind from the south, where most of Montana's major fires are. There was a campfire smell in the air and the stars were gone, and I knew the forest-fire smoke was back. The smoke grew worse all morning, and by early afternoon the visibility had dropped to less than a mile, and my sinuses had started to hurt.
I couldn't have seen a new fire out there even if there was one, but the day went on. I baked myself a half-dozen cranberry muffins for lunch, preheating the oven before remembering that my dirty dishes were in there. Talked to some of the other lookouts, did the afternoon radio check, and then made an evening hike down to Silver Basin to fill a five-gallon container of water from the little stream. Before packing the water back up the mountain, I undressed in the stream and poured a few more gallons of icy stream water over my head ... the fire lookout's equivalent of a shower. It felt amazingly good.
And then tonight, as I was eating pasta and talking to my friend over at Numa Ridge Lookout, the wind picked up again ... but this time from the east, stronger and colder. Before long, the smoke started to dissolve and I could see pieces of the sky again. By the time the sun started to go down, this was my view:
And tomorrow there will be more of it -- this afternoon, Dispatch radioed a "Red Flag" warning out to us, a signal for extreme fire danger to come. A cold front tomorrow, with clouds and wind and dry lightening, but no rain ... it's the combination the fire crews worry about the most.