As I’m sure you’ve heard, fires — from California to Idaho to Arizona to Utah — have hit the West very hard this year. The smoke from those fires blows eastward, and every morning and many afternoons obscure what would otherwise be clear, beautiful vistas. But their impact is most keenly felt by those whose homes have been destroyed and those who have lost loved ones. I think often of Mike McCloskey, 22, from New Jersey, who I met in Shingletown, CA, shortly before the fires broke out and started rampaging through the area just west of Shingletown. Mike’s father was a fireman back home, but Mike wanted to gain his experience in the West fighting different kinds of fires. I hope he’s okay. The following pictures are from the past few days crossing the Colorado River; hiking through Monument Valley, which straddles both Utah and Arizona; and the Four Corners. Yesterday and today strong storms and heavy rains have ripped through parts of Colorado-New Mexico. With good fortune, other western areas may also be benefiting from this soaking.