Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Staying in a Fire Lookout

The Fire Lookout at sunset

Location: A Fire Lookout in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Miles Hiked: 8.5 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 3300 ft

Sarina applied for a Fire Lookout Stewardship and got selected to spend two nights at a fire lookout this summer. Part of this stewardship was to go to a 3 hour long Saturday class at the Search and Rescue Headquarters for Snohomish County and get educated about the history of the lookout, what to do in case of emergencies, and what to do while staying at the lookout. The fire lookout we stayed at is not open to the public to stay in and is considered an administrative site for the Forest Service. As volunteers, we were to be a point of contact to the public to educate them about the lookout, and to help maintain the fire lookout in general.

Sarina invited me along for this trip, and I am so glad I went! I attended the class with her, and got educated about the history of the lookout, how it was inaccessible for a few years due to flooding and road washouts, how they deconstructed the lookout in the early 2000s, brought it down to Darrington to refurbish it, flew it back up, and reconstructed it, and so much more info.

We hiked out Saturday and only passed a handful of people on the way up. Once we got to the lookout, we opened up the shutters, and made ourselves at home. Thinking we weren't going to see anyone till the following day. Sarina and I laid down to rest before dinner time, but then we heard footsteps...

At this point the lookout was socked in, meaning we were in the middle of a cloud and couldn't see the mountains around us. It was around 8 PM when we heard the footsteps, and a few seconds later, we saw a head pop up from the window. It scared us both! Turns out, it was a guy who had hiked up for sunset, looking for a spot to camp. He had no gear with him, he had left it down the trail with his roommate, who was waiting for him to signal to see if he had found a better camp spot.

Phew, at least it wasn't a bear wandering up the steps!

The clouds cleared for sunset and we all stood outside and watched the mountains and the sky turn different colors as the sun set and called it a night.

Sunday morning came, and Sarina and I prepared for the day hikers to come. Our friends hiked out and visited too that Sunday! We counted a total of about 30 dayhikers that day. The last of the hikers left the lookout around 3-4:00 PM. Sarina and I cleaned up, made dinner, wandered around during sunset, and called it an early night.

The following morning we hiked out at 5:00 AM so I could get my butt to work since I didn't take the day off. That was rough.

I am keeping the name of the fire lookout a secret for personal reasons, but can you guess what lookout we stayed at?

Until next time Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest!

View from the window
 Trail on the way to the lookout
 Clouds were about to clear
 Our sleeping setup inside the lookout
Glacier Peak 
 Michael Matti, the photographer that hiked up and scare the crap out of us
 We legit
Do you spy Kaelee and Katherine?
 Working the fire lookout
Our friends came to visit!
 My first shot of the Milky Way 
 Fire Lookout at night
 Light painting and the Milky Way 
A cozy cabin in the sky

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