Erin, I live on the NW shore of Lake Tahoe and while it hasn't been as bad here overall as it has been for South Lake Tahoe and that area, the smoke from the Caldor fire has had a significant effect at times. (During the worst of it, I remember seeing an AQI of 646 one evening.) I learned a couple of things from recent events: first, that the AQI is very much subject to change even during one day depending on wind direction and how much it's shifting or swirling. I'd wake up some mornings seeing (relatively) good numbers, but by the time I'd be getting ready for a hike, the AQI had worsened because the wind shifted and I'd have to reconsider my plans for the day. Just because you've been seeing bad AQIs doesn't mean it will stay that way. Where you want to hike in relation to current wildfires has a lot to do with what to expect in air quality, and looking at the forecast can help determine if the wind would be blowing smoke toward or away from you. The second thing I've learned is that the numbers on AirNow are a rolling average. I now use purpleair.com to check the AQI. PurpleAir is a network of private and public air quality sensors which are constantly updating every few minutes, so it's more realtime. Go to purple air.com, click on "View the map," and allow it to use your location. Then you can drag and zoom to look at readings in the area you're interested in. At the moment, I'm seeing AQI in the 170 range for Lone Pine... IDK that it would stop me from heading out and seeing how it goes. YMMV. Hope this helps.
Last edited by SoCal Jim; 09/16/21 03:04 PM.