Thursday, April 10, 2014

Start of the Fire Lookout Season

The Mountaineers Everett Branch's Lookout and Trail Maintenance Crew’s 2014 season has begun! Member Bruce Wolverton describes 'opening season' at the Mt. Pilchuck lookout:

In my world, spring means the beginning of another amazing season of maintenance work some of our State's lookout towers. This weekend marked our last big haul to get foundation lumber and supplies moved up to Mt. Pilchuck for a week’s worth of work. We started at the Verlot Ranger station, getting the materials and supplies at large beams ready to be helicoptered up to the lookout. This was quite a logistical undertaking, as everything had to be weighed and marked so that pilot would know exactly how much he could take with each flight.
Replacement beams ready to be weighed.
More materials for work on the Pilchuck Lookout
Our hike up started early in the morning as we wanted to get a spot ready for the pilot to land the equipment and large beams. Unfortunately, as soon as we got up there, clouds surrounded the area, making it impossible for the pilot to drop off our needed supplies. There was plenty of other smaller prep work to be done, so we all got busy until evening. 
Clouds surrounding the Lookout - beautiful!
Two Mountaineers members replacing decking.
We woke up the following morning and radioed the helicopter to see what time they could try to make the drop. After a short breakfast we could hear the chopper coming up through the valley carrying the load - and then the clouds came in again. Communication around this went back and forth all morning, until our batteries started to run out. The chopper was able to fly up, with no load, to bring us new batteries so we could continue to communicate. Dropping off the radio equipment, visitors and sightseers went running towards the helicopter like it was Santa giving away pieces of candy – a very funny sight!

Some of the 'smaller' projects we took care of over the weekend included painting and replacing decking and railing pieces. A low point of the weekend was finding a section of decking that leads out onto a large rock which some campers decided to use as a fire pit. What a bummer that some folks chose to leave such a negative impact. We worked on this section, too – it’s safe to walk on again!
Vandalized section of decking 

The loads were finally able to be dropped off during the week when there was clear weather and we look forward to tackling some of the bigger projects up there! 

Hope these photos help illustrate the beauty that Washington's lookout towers offer to all of us!

- Bruce Wovlerton, Mountaineers member, Everett Branch

1 comment:

Chris Williams said...

Spectacular. Thank you for the tremendous work you're doing.