Day 13 as a Volunteer Fire Lookout, Friday, August 25, 2017

By | August 28, 2017

As the sun peaked up over the mountains, the sunshine blasted into the Lookout warming it and coaxing me from my warm bed.  All of the storm clouds had fled giving the sun dominion over the sky once again.

From the Lookout | photo by Debo Powers

Despite yesterday’s rain, we are still in severe drought conditions.  Texas is preparing for Hurricane Harvey and 35 inches of rain while in Montana, we celebrate when we get .1 inch of rain!  If 97% of our scientists can be believed, we can expect these extreme weather conditions to worsen with every passing year unless we decrease our use of fossil fuels that are creating more greenhouse gases than the earth can handle.

Adair Fire | photo by Debo Powers

This morning, smoke from the Adair Fire in Glacier National Park was spread out along the ground in the Logging Creek drainage under a slight inversion.  As the day heated up, the fire started to become active again.  This fire is being watched but is not actively being fought since there are no structures at risk and it will probably be pushed into the rocky base of the mountains.

Smoke from the Sprague Fire was visible in the morning, but the smoke haze obscured it as the day progressed.  Smoke from the Gibraltar Fire was drifting into the North Fork valley north of Trail Creek.  It was a quiet day with low winds and lower than usual temperatures.

I found out that the temperature was supposed to go down to 26 degrees at night, so I received permission to hike out after evening check-in to go home and close up my greenhouse with the promise that I would be back at Cyclone at 0800.  My greenhouse, which has been named the “Powers Tomato Research Farm,” is filled with tomato plants as high as the rafters, as well as peppers, cucumbers, and squash.  Even when focused on lookout duty, other responsibilities can intrude.  Luckily, I live close to Cyclone Lookout and can go home overnight for such emergencies.  On a night filled with storms and lightning, I would not have left but nothing of that sort was predicted.

Cyclone Lookout 2017 | photo by Debo Powers

Before evening check-in, I had two special visitors…..Halliday and Bonnie Quist, the daughter and wife of Rob Quist who came close to being our U.S. Congressman in the special election last May.  Halliday is a talented musician like her dad and was performing at the Northern Lights Saloon that night.  I have heard her sing many times and wished that I could attend her performance.  However, I knew that I had too many chores to do in the short visit home.

My hike down from Cyclone Lookout was pleasant.  I noticed the fall colors on vegetation and the tall skeletons of the prolific crop of beargrass that we had this spring.  The quiet forest had the dappled light of evening.  Once I got home, there were a million chores to do that I performed as quickly as possible.  By dark, all of my plants were tucked in for the cold night ahead and I slept in my own bed.

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