The fire lookouts are going up to their cabins and towers at the beginning of July. Then, they will be busy taking off the shutters, hauling water, and setting up their houses in the sky. Boxes of food and supplies to be transported to each lookout are piled up in the fire cache.
As always, I'm a little jealous. To me, this is the best job ever: living in a fire tower, gazing out across the forest, and learning to know every mountain you can see. Sometimes I get to fill in, when the lookouts need days off and fire danger is high. It's a little taste of paradise.
The next best thing is hiking there, so I set off walking up a dirt road toward a lookout I hadn't been to before. I arrived to find the gate open, so I could have driven, but I wanted the workout. The road wound for several miles through the forest before breaking out onto a subalpine ridge full of flowers. The lookout tower stood at a high point at the end of the ridge.
I climbed up to below the catwalk, where the hatch was locked. A lonely old chair sat out in front of the tower, a perfect place to observe the reservoir and mountains.
A storm was blowing in, so I didn't stay long. I hiked back down the road, thinking of the lookout who would be here soon, excited to make a home up here. Maybe someday that will be me. But if not, I can always visit.