By Jennifer Cost
I have spent a lot of time in the past thirty years kayaking, hiking, and backpacking in the western United States–in Alaska, the Sierra Nevada, the Lost Coast, the Wind River Range, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Beartooth/Absarokas, the Grand Canyon, the Anza Borrego Desert, and the San Juan part of the Colorado Rockies.
On every backpacking trip for the past twenty years, I have walked through or around larger and larger areas of charred forest, and from most mountaintop views, rust brown swaths of dead conifers cut through the healthier dark green forest of the surrounding mountains.
In the backcountry, I routinely scan the sky for foreboding plumes of smoke, and once a year find myself walking through a smoky haze, wondering if this hike would be my last. I have always walked out. But for millions more of the world’s species, there is no escape from fire, drought, dying oceans, and epic deluges. [Read more…]