Today, I traveled to Lake Junaluska, NC for a meeting. Less than an hour from home, wildfires are burning on 2,0000 acres of South Mountain State Park. First, I worried that smoke would block my route. Then I worried about my cousin, one of the many forest rangers, firefighters, and volunteers desperately working to contain and extinguish one of the many fires burning in the Appalachian mountains.
First, I dropped off 2 cases of water at the church that will be delivered to the relief workers. Then, I headed up the mountain. In the early morning light, smoke rose from the mountain like clouds.Stopping at the Glen Alpine exit, I could see smoke billowing over the mountain I just passed.
Further west, I saw a sign indicating road closures to Bat Cave, a small town south of my direction.
Arriving at Lake Junaluska, I checked in at the meeting and we could see the smoke settling over the lake. At a break, I stepped outside, and smelled and tasted the smoke-filled air. The usual mountain vista obscured by wafting smoke from a nearby wildfire.
We were safe, and being outside for short times could lead to coughing fits.
We adjourned the afternoon session and I took the opportunity to head home with the fading daylight. I dislike driving down Black Mountain at night and feared it would be worse with the smoke.
As I left the beautiful mountains, the sky was eerily hazy and the sun appeared orangish-red. I could smell the smoke in the car.
The moon rose and was obscured by smoke.
I spoke with a friend who told me of evacuations and of the teams of firefighters from around the nation. Those brave men and women who mobilize, await orders and stay in tent cities while fighting Mother Nature. When I asked my cousin what he wanted in particular (and I meant snacks), he responded with one word, “Rain”.
Never did he nor any of us think that the fires would be in our state, in counties where we have family and friends.
To the men and women fighting the fires, thank you and be safe.