While most people see atmospheric haze due to smoke as a disadvantage when photographing landscapes, I see it as an opportunity. Due to the drifting smoke from wildfires, the haze has created challenges and unique circumstances in which to photograph. I was tiring of bright sunny days to hike and photograph because of the excessive contrast and I prefer some drama to my photos or soft lighting.
I headed up the Needle Peak trail for the third time this year because I also wanted to photograph a favorite area of mine and had to wait until the snow had melted somewhat. In addition, it's a good place to chill out on a hot day. I had an early 5:30 am start up the trail and the smoke was thick in the air. I knew that the sun would rise as an orange fiery ball which the camera sensor failed to capture properly but the haze had created a nice sunrise. The smoke also created nice patterns in the sky which simulated clouds and also provided nice diffuse lighting which retained detail in the snow and granite boulders.
Later on in the morning, there was a nice breeze to thin the smoke out enough for blue sky to show in places but by that time, the sun was high in the sky and conditions not too favorable to photograph.
There are signs of glaciation; scoured bedrock, terminal and lateral moraine. That, plus the rockfall, has produced an area favorable for marmots, ptarmigans and black bear. Delicate flowers grow in patches amongst the fallen boulders. This is a sensitive area of grass, moss, heather and partridge-foot flowers so I don't visit often and has, so far, escaped the effects of erosion, litter and fire-pits that is prevalent along the main trail and Flatiron.
Because the area is north facing it gets a lot of shade so any snow melts slowly and into nice shapes and huge chunks. There is danger however as these gigantic chunks of snow can slide down the bedrock. I've seen this happen in the past as a huge chunk, twice the size of a Mini Cooper slide and crash into another.
Don't forgo a hike when atmospheric conditions are less ideal unless you have a respiratory illness such as asthma or COPD which can be exacerbated by smoke. Otherwise, it's nice to take photographs which doesn't involve nice sunny days all the time.