"We didn't feel endangered," a disappointed Hermanson said. "We were just engulfed with smoke. It seemed like the smoke got worse as it progressed."
'A lot of work to be done'
Authorities say the Rim Fire started on August 17. The cause is under investigation.
"There's a lot of concern, and there's a lot of work to be done," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lee Bentley said.
Firefighters have been able to build fire lines in several locations, officials say. The forecast is looking favorable as daytime highs sink into the 70s over the Labor Day weekend, a break from the temperatures in the high 80s firefighters were facing Wednesday.
More than 20 helicopters and air tankers were aiding the efforts.
Herman says the group's decision to abort their hike was a good one.
The rendezvous truck they had left at the end of the trail was nothing by a burnt shell after the fire roared through Lake Eleanor.
The group made it out safely on Monday. Hermanson's dad provided the ride home for the crew.
And the llamas?
"They were sneezing a lot. I think they may have been bothered by the smoke."