Day 18 as a Volunteer Fire Lookout, September 14, 2017

By | September 17, 2017

The sound of the north wind whipping around the Lookout greeted me as I opened my eyes in the freezing glass house.  Grey skies were all around me, but the smoke no longer enveloped the Lookout.  Smoke from the Adair Fire was billowing and buffeted by heavy winds from the north.  Smoke had settled in the northern valley, but it was difficult to determine if the smoke was from Gibraltar or the Canadian fires.

Fire in the Lookout

I quickly started a fire in the wood stove and huddled close to it watching the temperature gauge inch up.  Later, I was still huddling over the wood stove while eating hot oatmeal covered with nuts and prunes.  Gradually, the Lookout warmed up.

There had been no precipitation at Cyclone, but Thoma Lookout reported light snow during the morning weather report.  Everyone in the North Fork valley was hoping, praying, and doing rain dances in an appeal for precipitation in any form.

Adair fire in the morning

The Adair Fire was very active and the smoke was traveling down the Logging Creek drainage, across the river and the road, down the Coal Creek drainage and over Winona Ridge.  Some of the smoke was spilling over the west end of Logging Ridge, but most of it was to the south.

Using all leftover food for lunch

At lunch, I cooked up all of my remaining food by making an omelet with veggies from my garden and cucumber and tomatoes on the side (also from my garden).  Cyclone Lookout would be going out-of-service for the season following the evening check-in and I would be hiking out and going home.  Due to the cold weather and the fact that Numa Lookout was returning after two days off, the fire managers did not think that Cyclone needed to remain in service and they were aware of my willingness to return if things changed.

A little after noon, Huckleberry Lookout reported that the Adair Fire had some spots in the upper Anaconda drainage.  Regardless, Huckleberry Lookout checked out for two days off.  Even though there were still active fires and no precipitation, it felt to be like the fire season was finally winding down.

I spent the afternoon hauling firewood up the tower stairs to refill the wood box, washing dishes, packing my pack, and cleaning the Lookout. 

In mid-afternoon, the wind shifted to the east and the smoke from the Adair Fire filled the valley and obscured my visibility to the south.  Cyclone Lookout was once again engulfed in smoke and I was breathing bad air again.

Goodbye Cyclone Lookout!

After evening check-in, I announced on the radio that Cyclone Lookout was going out-of-service for the season.  Carrying my pack, I headed down the trail on my way back home.  Goodbye Cyclone Lookout…..for the third time this season.

Evening hike out

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