Upon my return from an annual camping trip in Northern California's Mount Lassen National Park, I read the news.
It turns out the that fire raged over the ridge across the lake from us all week long was national news. This shocked me due to the cavalier and somewhat fond attitude with which we regarded the smoke that filled the sky both day and night.
At first, the smoke was fairly mild, but by the last few nights, we were greeted with a new, spectacular display as the setting sun played games with the glowing smoke and reflections on the lake.
Each year as we prepare to embark on the six hour drive from San Francisco to Mount Lassen, we are met with confusion as friends try to figure out the appeal of spending a week in the same forest, the same lake, with the same views year in and year out. This year, we are able to provide them with photographic proof, along with an explanation.
The scenery and atmosphere depend completely on the snowfall and storm frequency, which always makes things exciting. This fire opened a completely new world to us, only glimpsed once many years ago during a lightning storm as a tree caught fire nearby.
This is why we return to the places we love. They are always changing, and we wouldn't miss it for the world.