The mornings are often pretty cruisy in the firetower. I call in the coordinates of smokes from the burn to the north and then make myself a cuppa on the little metho cooker. We have to carry everything up the mountain to our workplace, so on most days I'll cart up a couple of litres of water, lunch, a snakebite bandage and a notebook in my backpack. I have a special stick that I'm superstitious about. I've stripped the karri limb of bark and its striated patterns soothe me whenever I hold it. It helps me on the steep bits of the climb, lifts my weight. I know this sounds weird but I'm attached to my stick. In the past, kids who climb the mountain have seized other sticks of mine and thrown them off, over the granite. Boys, especially, like throwing big things off the mountain. I try to explain to them that This is not a good Thing. 'Do you actually know whether or not a rock climber is scaling the west side?' Also - that's my stick you little shit.
So yes, the mornings are pretty cruisy other than precious Braydon's parents people. This morning, I listened to my audio book (H. Yanagihara's 'To Paradise'. It's amazing by the way), met a group of tourers and watched smoke mooch quietly around a karri knoll.
At about lunchtime, I saw a smoke go up to the north east. There's a lot of dust out that way this time of year. A tractor in a paddock fifty kilometres away will send up a plume that looks just like smoke. All particles in the air, whether it be dust, smoke or steam, behaves in the same way. It swirls, drifts, billows or columns according to what the winds and other elements are doing. Believe me when I say this does my head in and that's why we are only allowed up here four days in a row.
It was dark smoke, billowing and quite dense. But it was staying in the same spot, so I was thinking it couldn't be dust. I worked out the coordinates and called it in. Time, bearing, distance, smoke description, 'maybe dust, I'm not sure.'
Within minutes the spotter pilot was heading that way. She couldn't see it, she said over the radio. Then, 'yep that's a smoke'. When the spotter got overhead, she reported it as a tractor that had caught fire in a wheat paddock. So that's why the smoke looked so dirty, I thought. She read out the coordinates and I realised I was out by about ten kilometres.
I sat back in my 'office' chair in the tower. Well that's a win. Got the distance a bit wrong but that's not too shabby considering it was fifty kilometres away over the flatlands.
I can relate to that, dust from tractors working on the land looking like smoke. Tractors and harvesters also get burnt out from time to time.ReplyDelete
From fifty or sixty kilometres away, someone working a paddock sends up a dust plume that looks just like smoke. Just got lucky that day.Delete
Your skill identifying fire and ability to distinguish it from dust and steam is impressive. I imagine early identification is key and having an airplane pilot confirm your find makes for a very successful day. Many years ago, living in Arizona, my car overheated and I thought it was on fire. It was only steam. Steam definitely looks like smoke.ReplyDelete
Yes, steam looks like smoke! The difference is when in forest fires, the early smoke is quite blue, whereas steam is white. When sun hits a dewy forest in the morning it sends up steam all the time. Like I said, does my head in.Delete
When I was a kid I managed to push a huge rock from the top of a high hill about half a mile down into a cow-free field. I began to get worried when it showed no signs of slowing down as it approached a road. It stopped about 20 yards from it...ReplyDelete
There's a few Indigenous stories in Australia, warning kids not to throw things off mountains. They are cautionary tales (it'll wake up the bunyip, etc) but grounded in common sense. You can't see who is wandering around below the mountain summit. Climbers come up here all the time.Delete
Thanks Margaret. I was aware of iNaturalist for data collection but not ID. Cool!ReplyDelete