Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Scouting

When we fly, we are supposed to be looking for that tricky plume of smoke hidden in the trees, one that perhaps a lookout has reported but can't see again, or maybe where a lightning strike was recorded but the fire is still being born.  And we do this, look closely at the forest to find out its secrets, scan the hillsides and valleys for something that looks different and out of place.

But sometimes my eyes wander.  In the places we fly, it's hard not to do this.  We fly past glaciers and rock spires, mountain goats and grizzly bears.  On days when we are chasing the wisps of fog we call waterdogs, or taking a trail crew in for rehab perhaps, I start tracing the lines of mountains.  I make maps in my mind of places I want to go on foot.

Lakes shimmer in cirques far below; I search the woods for a possible trail.  When I see a lonely path carved into a hillside, I wonder where it goes.  I gaze at fire lookouts as we pass.  I stare at my GPS.  What's that lake, how far is that trail, could I climb that peak?  There are so many possibilities.
Lookout from the air
Sometimes the people I fly with are hunters or backcountry skiers.  "I'm sure there's elk down there," they say, or "I bet that basin would be fun to ski in the winter."  Other people don't quite get it: "Well, we landed up here, so now I don't have to hike it," they say.  To each their own.  I'll continue my scouting.  Someday I'll get there.
I saw this lake from the helicopter when there was a fire there. Finally made it there this spring.

6 comments:

  1. Wow - gorgeous views from the helicopter! I'd be scoping out possible hiking trails too.

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    1. I then hurry back and look them up in my hiking guides and figure out when I can go!

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  2. How could you not? Love that you share these spots with us.

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    1. Thanks! I think everyone does it to some extent. One of our pilots looks for interesting places he could land.

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  3. I would be the same...constantly adding to my list of places I would want to visit!!!!!!

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    1. It's a pretty handy way of checking things out.

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