Debo Powers has volunteered as a lookout at Baptiste. Here is the report from her first day on the job…
Monday, July 21
Monday morning I hiked up to Baptiste Lookout on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir next to the Great Bear Wilderness for 10 days as a volunteer fire lookout. I had been eagerly waiting for this day and bounded out of bed to get an early start. After a two-hour drive to the trailhead and a stop at the Hungry Horse Ranger Station to pick up a radio, I hefted my backpack filled with provisions on my back and headed up the trail to Baptiste. The morning was cool and partly cloudy and the lush vegetation along the trail was dripping with rain from a shower the night before. The trail continuously climbed for 6 miles and I was powered by handfuls of succulent huckleberries the first few miles. The hike would have been wonderful if not for the heavy backpack that carried my food. Because I love fresh fruit and did not want to forego that luxury, the weight of the backpack was hard to manage. Eventually, I arrived at my temporary home and savored the peach that I ate with lunch knowing the trouble I had taken to get it there.
I spent the afternoon getting acquainted with the lookout and its fire finding tools. I have started learning the names of the peaks and drainages that surround me. The beauty is stunning. All afternoon I looked at the landscape trying to become familiar with its features. However, nothing surpassed the thrill of watching my first sunset from a lookout. The orange in the sky reflected in the reservoir waters and the side of Baptiste Mountain…..and it seemed to last forever.
While most lookouts are staffed with paid employees of the Forest Service or the National Park, Baptiste, Firefighter, and Cooney are staffed with volunteer lookouts. Our team of volunteers divvy up the weeks during fire season and commit to at least one 10-14 day hitch. Lookout training for Flathead Forest, Glacier Park, and Lewis and Clark Forest is led by Leif Haugen, the experienced lookout at Thoma.