Backpackers escape smoke and flames from the Creek Fire

Cal Poly students crossed the Sierra Nevada to flee the Creek Fire burning in eastern Fresno and Madera counties. Photo by Morgan Atchison

All of California’s 18 national forests remain closed due to the many huge wildfires burning up and down the state. The U.S. Forest Service extended the closure to at least Monday in an effort to prevent more fires from starting and keep people out of harm’s way.

Cal Poly student Morgan Atchison knows all too well what it’s like to be in the backcountry when a wildfire breaks out. Earlier this month, she and a group of fellow backpackers were forced to hike 16 miles in the opposite direction they planned and scramble over a 13,400-foot mountain to escape the flames.