23 October 2010

Sheep Hill Lookout: 7/29 (cuz I missed it) and 8/1-8/7

Week 4 on Sheep Hill Lookout. Plus the 29th of July, because I forgot it last time. And it was an interesting day, as far as I'm concerned. I'm still not editing, outside of really minor things, so it's good the writing got better after that first week, eh?

I am more susceptible to the beauty of things. Just this moment: "turn, turn, to the rain and the wind / turn, turn, turn again." Thanks, Bob. And Timothy Egan's words sculpting the Northwest in the mythological real heartbreaking way. And Captain John Meares, 1778: "If that not be the home wherein dwell the Gods, it is beautiful enough to be, and therefore I call it Mount Olympus."

I talked to Jodie for around an hour, about God and faith, etc. Not a small bit strange how much of my reading has to do with the arena--some of it was intentionally chosen--but there's more than I thought, popping up in surprising places, and even old magazines here in the lookout come around to it again and again. And I read Dharma Punx again just before I came up here. Just letting things continue to stew/percolate/steep for awhile.

Having a phone and music makes such a huge difference in the ease to deal with the solitude (and distract from it, ech). In this way, I am a million miles from Snyder Kerouac Whalen, alone on their rock heaps in sunlight above Ross Lake. I may be in an area as remote, in its way, as they were then, but I can create company for myself at will.

I've never been so aware of the moon's position in the sky as I am here. It started as a thin crescent in the western sky, visible only before dark, and has swung all the way across the south windows, getting fatter all the time. Now it is heaving into sight, fat and orange, above the east horizon at 9:45 pm. [This here photo is yet another sunset, however. I didn't take a single moonrise photo.]
Winthrop, again: Mountains should be our noblest friends, our most exalting and inspiring comrades, 
our grandest emblems of divine power and divine peace."

A fairly plain day. Made Twin Mountain Muffins, and ate them with Ma's raspberry jam. Delicious. The dry eggs, once reconstituted, work amazingly well in recipes that call for creaming the sugar/butter/eggs. Will make some more chocolate chip cookies this afternoon, too.

The Three Prong Fire spotted hugely and went a little nuts this afternoon. About the same time, the Copper Fire on the Payette, and something over on, or beyond, the Bitterroot went off.
A hummingbird sat on my finger. It only lasted a few seconds--long enough for disbelief to flash into amazement, and for the hummingbird to bend over and stick its beak between my finger and the National Geographic I was holding--and then it was gone again.

Woke up this morning to a haze so thick that I couldn't see beyond about 8 miles. Now, at noon, I can just make out about 50-60% of my farthest skyline, but everything between 10 miles and that skyline is just a flat wash of different shades of blue. No smoke smell, though.

Got news that a former lookout, who was here in the 80s, will be up sometime this week. She brought her kids with her for the 9 years she was here. Just this morning I was thinking about how that sort of thing would work. Sleeping quarters, food, dishes, bathing, laundry, etc--for 4 people, instead of one.

Pizza for dinner! With beer! Sourdough crust, landjager, onion, soaked dried mushrooms, artichoke hearts. I screwed up the sauce a little--burned the garlic when I was sauteeing it--but didn't exactly slow me down. Literally giddy, I took about 20 photos. Every step of the way necessitated documentation. Here's just one.

Made chocolate cherry almond cookies, to share with visitors. The trail crew will be working along the ridge this week, and will bring me Josh's gin!

I did another 'load' of laundry, with Dr Bronner's only. Took just 5 gallons of water, and went really easily: just the way I thought it would go, last time. Even kinda fun.

This morning Elli and I went down to the upper Rattlesnake Lake. I was hoping to catch a trout with the lure and line here at the lookout, since my dumb ass didn't pack a fishing pole. Lots of columbine, elephant's head, scorpion weed/sky pilot, valerian, paintbrush, hellebore, etc blooming.

the lookout is visible, as the lump on the ridge, just about center.
The crawl down there was really kind of a pain in the ass, and so I was really hoping it would pay off in fish. Sadly, my setup was enormously ineffective, and the mosquitoes too obnoxious to allow me to tinker and brainstorm new solutions on the fly. Saw plenty of fish, scared a few, came nowhere near catching one. Around the lake was wet meadow, and wandering "ditches" of lake, about 1 1/2' across and 2-4' deep. A good mess from avalanches in places, too.  
And then came the hike back up. Holy kee-riste. Without breakfast, it kicked my ass. But it was really gorgeous down there.
Brown rice and lentils for dinner. Tastes like the North Cascades Institute, when I'd cook barley or brown rice with lentils and herbs as a side dish, but would eat just a big pile of it with yogurt for my own dinner. I wish that job could have been a little less heartbreaking. Goes back to eating "plain foods" at the Omega Institute, too--rice and beans and greens, and so happy, with a little nutritional yeast and Bragg's Aminos. Ditto, on the heartbreak, too.

YAHOO! My first fire! All my own! I no longer suck at my job. It is down on the Salmon, to the southwest of me, near Allison Bar. I couldn't see the base, it was tucked behind a little ridge, but apparently my coordinates were right on! Woo!

Jeff, from the trail crew, came up this evening to bring gin and a new door latch. He's the one who cheered me up and encouraged me on during the last half of the pack test. While I was horfing along in last place, I managed to trot to catch up to Jeff, and he kept me going with him--until we got to the last quarter mile, and he lit out--freaking took off. While he came in third to last, I know for a fact he didn't give a shit, and could have gone faster the whole damn time. Plus, it had to have felt good to smoke the living hell out of two people 10-30 years younger than himself. We shot the shit for a little while. He told me they should have named my fire the "Betsy Fire", in my honor (it's named the Big Eddy, 'cuz it's near the Big Eddy in the river). Then he and his horse went back down to camp. With brownies for the crew.

Last night I could see the glowing orange light from their campfire, away on a saddle in the dark. It was nice to feel like I had company, and it was comforting to be able to just lean forward on my glass-insulated chair and see the fire there in the night, while storm cell after storm cell moved by.
My "Two-In-One" washboard. My nearest guess to what purpose number two is? Musical instrument. Plus a photo from Ross Lake '06.

Last night was another big light show--had to give up and get out of bed around midnight to watch strikes, got back in around 2--sleep has been a little rare lately. Daylight breaks around 4:30 or so, remarkably early when you've slept for crap and are in and out of consciousness all night, keeping a few brains cells aware of the proximity of lightning. I can doze, waiting for stuff to move in from the west or south, until it gets close enough.

Sheep Hill Chocolate Chip Cookies
post-lookout-ily named, since I developed the recipe there. a little extra salty, since chocolate and salt are so durn tasty together. You'll probably want to double the recipe, since there may be more than one of you, or you may have more to do than make cookies twice a week, or because it's good to have lots of cookies around...or because the recipe calls for a half an egg.

1 stick (1/4#) Butter
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 egg (1T powder, 2T water)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda (1/4 tsp at 8400' above sea level)
1 cup Flour (1 1/4 cup at 8400')
1/2 cup Walnuts, small pieces (or Almonds, and 1/2 cup dry Montmorency Cherries)
1 cup Chocolate (chunked dark Trader Joe's Pound Plus, if you're being authentic)
*Cream Butter and Sugar. Cream in Vanilla and Egg.
*Stir in dry ingredients. 
*Bake at 375 degrees F until done. Makes about a dozen big (4") cookies.  

18 October 2010

Sheep Hill Lookout: Sunday 7/25-Saturday 7/31

Week Three on Sheep Hill Lookout

Homemade sourdough pita with tuna salad, sprouts and avocado, and a peach, ripe juicy sweet, for lunch. I'd feel lucky to be eating this at home, let alone here. Had my first 'real' visitor, not known to me, or working for the F.S., just after lunch. A guy in his 60s from Boise, thru-hiking the Centennial Trail from Nevada to Canada. He used to work for the Nature Conservancy, is retired, and figured he'd better do a thru-hike while still physically capable. Said the trail is terrible to non-existent in places, but is enjoying himself. Given that he is making excellent time, and is ultra-lighting it like an old hand, I'd say he's got a few more thru-hikes in him yet. 

Something big blew up in Montana today. To the left of El Capitan from here. Everybody could see it, way north and way south. Listening in on the radio to the Bitterroot forest tonight, I heard that it started around Willow L.O., and that he had a hairy escape from it, abandoning the lookout to run further into the wilderness, where a helicopter picked him up. The fire swept around the lookout cabin in the end, and didn't touch it.

I took this at 1654, after it had been going for an hour or two. It's developing a cumulonimbus head.

Elli caught sniff or sight of 'em five minutes before I could see them, but 9 people, 9 horses and two dogs from Spokane and Grangeville came up. The youngest was a little Devon. He had lots of good and smart questions and wanted to check everything out, stomping around in cowboy boots and hat. They're camped at Lake Creek Lakes through Thursday. Saw them fishing down at lower Rattlesnake Lake later on. 

Weather moved in, lightning dropping south, east, west and north of me, but not here. Behler and his crew had driven up to Green Mountain to use the lookout in the storm, and he spotted a smoke! I got a cross azimuth on it. Tim's crew responded to it. 1/4 acre, named Butter Fire. My coordinates were nearly dead on! Wahoo! The engine crew from Elk City found one from Elk Summit, became the Whiskey Fire. 

I kept track of all sorts of 'smokes': water dogs, vapor, etc, until about 2030, when the sun went down. Gorgeous, long sunset. 

Sustained 10-15 MPH winds for about 30-45 minutes in the 5 o'clock hour. Followed by rain, that has kept up. Low visibility, drifting misting morning that smells wonderful. Built a fire in the woodstove. Nice and toasty with a cup of coffee, and Elli asleep on the bed. 

One hell of a thunderstorm blew through in the afternoon, west to east. I could see it blackening and striking all the way from Oregon Butte, 29 miles away. Just a black wall of cloud. By the time it got here, it had a shelf-cloud formation: squared-off, flat and level bottom edge (from moving so fast). It meant business. It had to lift itself slightly to get over my ridge--and just right out there! it did--that sharp shelf edge boiled up and all over me. Howling wind and marble-sized hail came just after I was cloaked in that cloud. The noise from it was enough that I couldn't hear the radio, or the thunder, though the strikes were plenty visible. The whole time I was perched on the back of my insulated chair, cackling joyously. I love storms.
the hail on the ground, and the tail end of the storm.

A whole pile of smokes were found far east of me, in the Newsome Creek area. Tim calls it the Bermuda Fire Triangle, because despite the lookouts' ability to see them clearly, the crews on the ground sometimes never find the fires there. 

Two more good storms today, one of which threw lightning directly on us--simultaneous FLASHBOOM! that Elli was less than fond of. She's doing pretty well with the storms. She hangs out on her bed until they get a little to loud, flashy, or both, and then curls up under the table on a insulative mat I put there just for this purpose.

Got more pita dough ready to rally. Such a simple way to make myself bread, I dig it.

Smoky enough I can smell it and can't see well, this morning. My snowbank will be gone today--so sad. I will have to be more stingy with water for dishes. I hope to god I have enough snow-water for dishes, clothes and showers stored up that I won't have to haul it on my back from the spring. 

I just realized today that I've begun to get used to the idea of mountains being rather rounded and not particularly different or outstanding from one another. El Capitan is North Cascades-burly-looking, and still the king (or Captain, eh?) of my 360 degrees, but my eyes have adjusted to the rest of the milder mountains.

I think the sky kind of betrayed Elli today, during a storm that was otherwise underwhelming, and going by mostly to the east of us. She was chilling out, not being bothered by it at all, when we had another direct strike. Scared the bejeebus out of her, and startled me straight onto my glass-insulated chair. I didn't see it coming either, Elli.

From The Good Rain, by Timothy Egan:
And in all that period while I was near Nature,
the great lessons of the wilderness deepened into 
my heart day by day, the hedges of conventionalism 
withered away from my horizon, and all the pedantries
of scholastic thought perished out of my mind forever.

We had our first sheep-y visitor today! I went out to hang my bedding over the west rail, heard a funny noise, and there she was. She proinked away, stopped, came back. When Elli came outside, she stood on the catwalk next to me, barking her ass off, but otherwise making no moves. The sheep looked at us, all like, 'whatever', and very leisurely-like, she meandered off to the northwest. Then Elli went down and went bananas sniffing around. The sheep came back again later, too, so we must not worry her too much. The log from last year says that a family of three was around at about this time. Maybe she was the young one. 

This afternoon I sucked at my job. Gardiner Peak spotted a fire about 10 miles from me before I did. It was about 14 miles away from him. It was going off, too, not hard to see, aside from the fact the light was weird. Within a minute, Hell's Half Acre and Coolwater L.O.s chimed in, too. Dixie crew got to respond to it, their first fire of the summer. The Three Prong Fire.

It is the last day of July, today. I've got a little more than a month left, and am three weeks down. I've a lot of food to eat, yet.

Sourdough Pitas
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Flour
3/4-1 cup Water
1/2 cup Sourdough Starter
1T Olive Oil
1 t Sugar
1 t Salt

-Mix all but Water, add Water slowly and knead to form soft, elastic dough. 
-Put in bowl and cover, rise to double. At the l.o., fridge overnight.
-Divide into 6 pieces, roll out to around 6"x1/4". Use one-quart Nalgene for authenticity.
-Cook on medium to medium-high heat in cast iron skillet. Or other fry pan. I found that they puffed best if I put the side that was moistest down first (usually the side against the table when you've rolled them), and then turned them onto the 'drier' side.
-Can be doubled easily!

08 October 2010

Sheep Hill Lookout: Sunday 7/18-Saturday 7/24

Week Two, at Sheep Hill.
Sourdough Pita, started yesterday, is sadly only so-so. I let it over-proof, I think. Extra-sour, texture off, didn't puff open, and I burned most of them in the cast-iron skillet. I'm still learning the heat settings on the stove. Seems like there's high, med-high, and low.
Had snack of Chicken Salad, on american flag placemat, and popped a popper to celebrate: all gifts from the Smithingtons.
Read all day, outside of washing part of the windows, cooking, and doing check looks. Finished Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, am reading Merle's Door. Tonight some loneliness is creeping in--a little off balance, altogether. Don't know how to alleviate the pressure of worry that I won't do well at my job when lightning and fires start. Am mildly concerned, despite my belief otherwise, that I'll go fucking nuts before this is over, but am simultaneously very sad that I have less than two months up here. Am missing Devon like hell, of course. It's nice hearing everybody on the radio, knowing the faces and characters behind the voices of our crews. 

Arnica starting to bloom, or yellow aster (is arnica a yellow aster? seems extremely likely, will look it up). The Space Station is visible in the East late at night; it is brighter, and creepier, than any star or planet.

Black bear at 0615! Headed down east side of ridge, toward Rattlesnake Lakes, a hundred yards or so from lookout. Elli saw it first, growled and stood up and stared out the window at it. Nice cinnamon-y color. 

1100- First visitor, a guy from Fish & Game, who's been making terrible check-ins with Grangeville all week. I had no idea he was out here. He and his coworker didn't know the lookout was staffed, either. They've been getting eaten alive by mosquitoes down at Lake Creek Lakes camp. They're doing non/native trout and frog counts in the alpine lakes. I gave them some DEET. 

Windows nearly done, aside from inside corner above bed, where Elli always lies. And smears her nose, when checking out what's going on outside. Hauled water.
On our morning walk, I counted the rings on this log. About 280 years old, with a 32" diameter. Impressive for 8400'! It was also my first experience cross-cutting--Tim, Luke and I cut it out before they left.

Finished windows! Decided sourdough pitas are better than first thought, and will be even better with a shorter, colder rise and being rolled instead of stretched. Plus some more salt. 

Saw a yellow-bellied marmot on rocks south of L.O. While I sat outside in the sun, on the west side of the catwalk, smoking my first roll-yr-own cigarette of my stay, a hummingbird flew up. At first I was astonished how close it was--just a few feet away. Then it flew up to about 6-8 inches away from my face, and hovered there. I was half nervous that any move I made would scare it off, and half scared that it would decide to stab me in the eyeball with its sharp little beak. 

The map on the firefinder is at least as old as I am. The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness wasn't dedicated until 1980. Previously (and as the map displays), the area where I am, where Sheep Hill is, was the Salmon River Breaks Primitive Area, and across the Salmon to the south was just the Idaho Primitive Area. It isn't as old as I thought it might be, though. 

Another yellow-bellied marmot lumbering around to the south today. Glad I saw them at Palouse Falls--I don't think I've ever seen anything besides a Hoary before.

Flashes of dry lightning
Away in the dark
Clouds that built + shifted all day
Amounted to nothing here--
Shissler + Gardiner are having
A more animated night than I

The lookout's moonshadow
Stretches to the north
My mind bright to match the night, from reading
Rexroth McNulty Green + Snyder. I
Try to sleep on Sheep Hill Lookout

Day off. Hauled 20-plus gallons of snow melt-water. Strung clothesline on west side of catwalk. Rearranged the shower set-up, and took one hurriedly as the clouds moved in on a previously warm day--I had done all my chores in a bikini top and skirt, and finished the day in pants and fleece.Washed dishes, aired bedding and brushed Elli--holy shit, what a mess of fur. 
Started drinking Pendleton whiskey in the afternoon, wrote a postcard or two. Paraphrase of one: "A good day off, mildly toastered on whiskey, elevation + hard work at 2 in the afternoon--perhaps join with classic lookout behavior and roll a smoke for the afternoon sun-soak. A tad windy, tho--an inexperienced smoker such as myself will have to watch out."

Clouds really piled up in the afternoon, but didn't build to storms. They moved in from N-NW instead of S-SW as its been up to now. 

Hiked down to Sheep Spring Lake (S of L.O., on other side of saddle from spring where I get water) with Elli before work--25 minutes down, 25 minutes up! 520' feet elevation, 1/2 mile on trail, 1/4 mile off. On the way down, Elli chased the first deer I've seen, though the tracks are on the trails every morning. Down at the lake, Elli stared hard across the water, then barked, put her ruff up, and then wheeled and ran off a few yards before turning and barking again. I tried hard to see what she saw, particularly since it might be something above us on the food chain, but never saw anything. She carried a huge stick nearly to the lookout from the saddle, until she flushed a grouse, and forgot all about the stick.

Sweet jeebus, laundry sucked, if only because my dumb ass used the Tide in the drawer, instead of the Dr. Bronners I packed. Hours. Hours of work, mostly trying to rinse the damn soap out, and then refilling all the snow water I had used. Setting up the wringer was a pain in the ass, too. Think I'll start going naked more often.

Josh (my neighbor and friend from Blaine) and the rest of the Gentlemen's Outdoor Society Of Moscow will be here sometime today. After drinking beers last night in Moscow, they didn't leave as early as they'd planned. I figure I'll see them around 1700. It is a reunion tour for GOSOM, a group formed while the 3 of them were in graduate school.

Arrived! They brought Elli drugs, and me colored pencils, a shit-ton of produce and fruit! Wahoo!! Forgot the gin and Riesen candies, though. Sad, sad. Josh did bring Moose Drool in cans, a 22 of his beer, and a bag of wine. Forgiven.

GOSOM is Awesome!
Josh also brought me my copy of The Dharma Bums:
"let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, 
the circumstances of life are pretty glorious."
Pretty apt, and also impressively optimistic for ol' Jack. 

When the boys left, I missed Devon so much I cried. 

Oh, big thing I forgot about yesterday: my brother, Tim, got engaged! He drove his girlfriend (who had flown out from Michigan for a visit) to the top of Burnt Knob and popped the question. They called on the radio to tell me that he'd gotten an "Affirmative", and then flashed me with the signal mirror. 

Just spotted first wildfire: shat pants. Turns out it's the Copper Fire, and started yesterday. It is more than 20 miles south, behind two ridges, on the Payette Forest, so out of my jurisdiction. I wonder if I should have been able to see it before now. Jim on Sheepeater says it wasn't super-active yesterday, so hopefully I really don't suck at my job. 

Butterflies, flies, mosquitoes, gnats, ladybugs, etc all over the place today. Marmots. Deer down where the packer slept and fed his horses. Stir fry with kale, corn, carrot, onion and bell pepper, over rice. Thanks, GOSOM.

{As my friend, KAP, observed, there were a shit-ton of people around in these first 13 days. When GOSOM left, the last of my friends who were planning to visit for the summer were gone. No more visits to look forward to, but plenty of quiet time!)

06 October 2010

First week on Sheep Hill: Sunday 7/11-Saturday 7/17

Well, here we go at last! I'll make entries from time to time, excerpting from the summer's log. If you're bored to hell, let me know. I don't know that it will make for interesting reading.

Waiting to light at the prescribed burn. James, the Oregon Butte Lookout, is to left of me.
Tim, Jeff, Morgan, Luke and I camped at Dry Saddle. Mosquitoes out of control--distracting completely from a gorgeous evening and sunset. After so long, back and forth, going? not going? yes? no? We are up here extremely suddenly. Today we attempted a prescribed burn at American River Stewardship. It exploded on test lighting, and that was the end of that, other than several hours of mop up. We then headed back to Red River, slammed everything into our packs, and headed out. 

Hiked in, only 9.5 miles, took about 5 hours, going pokily. Opened the L.O.--window shutters off, plastic off everything inside, hook up propane, voltage regulator not working on solar, by-pass, electricity(!) to power F.S. radio, iPod and phone: on. 

Smoke from American Stew units that we burned last week took off. The smoke looked so much closer to L.O. than it is--we all misjudged the distance. However, now I have some idea of where Elk City is from here. Looked as though this was just behind ridge of Boston Mountain, just a few miles away.

We all hauled water up from Sheep Spring, about a 1/2 mile down to S-SW saddle. Packboard killed me, and my lower back. Hauling water just might not be very fun. Kicked my ass, for only being around 40# of weight. Tarred roof, caulked S and W windows. Struggled to orient firefinder, which was at least a couple of degrees off. Stressful, as I already feel like I have huge potential to suck at my job, and being a whole or half section (1 or 1/2 mile) off when I call in a fire is one sure way.

Adam and Biggs arrived around 2 PM, with a 4-hour hike time. They rode their dual sports over from WA. Brought 5 liters wine (Kevin: "What's the deal with Merlot? What does 'Merlot' mean?" Me: "Merlot is like the Chardonnay of the red wine world." Kevin "What the fuck does that mean?"), kale, carrots, onion. And their wonderful selves.

What seven people in one 16'x16' house looks like
Biggs and Adam rose to challenge set by Tim's assistant crew leader, and haul 3 Cubies (~130lbs of water) apiece up from the spring. Cole said it couldn't be done, and Cole is always right. Couple that with the fact that Adam and Biggs will rise to any challenge, and voila. While that was going on, Tim's crew re-roofed the pooper. Beauty.
Packer was  scheduled to arrive today, didn't make it. MREs are getting old. So, the boys all scrambled down to Rattlesnake Lakes (E-SE of lookout) and caught 14 cutthroat with fly rod, spinner rod, corn, flannel shirt and with spear made from pocket knife tied to a stick. Baked with Montreal Steak Seasoning, found in cupboard, and served with ramen noodles with kale, onion, carrot and parmesan; meal highly appreciated by all!

Biggs, Adam, Jeff and Morgan left in AM. Packer finally arrived around 6 PM. Yahoo for real food! Well, sort of. We had Annie's Mac and Cheese with chili, and Newman-Os for dessert.
Quert the Packer finally arrives with all my summer goods

After rationing coffee up to now, I made a huge, strong pot, and it tasted frigging excellent. Tim, Luke and packer all left around 7 AM. Finally alone! I cleaned, sorted, put away all day.

Jim at Sheepeater Lookout (nearly 20 miles SW of me) called asking for help with a smoke he couldn't see well from his location. It was weird, dusty looking stuff, and all spread along a pocket of land, with no distinct base or column. Dutch, over at Pilot Knob, suggested that it was pine pollen. Whatever it was, it subsided by afternoon. Good practice, trying to figure out its location! And nice meeting the neighbors. 

I can see Sheepeater, Oregon Butte, Pilot Knob and Salmon Mountain, which are all staffed, without getting out the binoculars. I can also see Arctic Point, Burnt Knob, Green Mountain, Elk Summit and Spot Mountain,  which are not staffed any longer. I'm not sure just how many other lookouts I can hear on the radio--on our forest, probably around 10. Add in the Payette, the Salmon, the Bitterroot, the Clearwater, and the Challis, and holy crap. That's a lot of lookouts. One in particular stands out. She calls herself "Smokey's Girl," and apparently "Smokey" is her sweetie, another lookout, who is too far away to come in on my radio. So I only get her side of the conversation, which is hollered, obnoxious, nauseating. "Smokey, this is Smokey's Girl!" (Two seconds later, before Smokey has a chance to walk the 8 feet to where his radio is probably resting on the firefinder stand:) "SMOKEY! You got your ears on?!" (Smokey presumably gets a chance to respond, then:) "Hey! Me and "Mad Dog" (apparently, her dog at the lookout with her) are going for a walk!"...."Yeah! She really likes the snow fields!"...."Oh, she just rolls around and then takes a poop!" (Carried on for a while, and always one of a variety of conversations that occur the same way every day, during work hours, and apparently oblivious to the fact that the entire Forest-worth of lookouts can freaking hear her every hollered word)...."Okay! I love you, baby! Smokey's Girl out!" Dee-lightful. Tim was ready to choke her after about two hours the very first day. {I had no idea, for about 3 weeks, who she was, because she never talked 'properly' on the radio, never said her actual station name or call letters. As the summer went on, she must have had a progressively stronger set of talkings-to, because she became tolerably professional by the time September rolled around.}

Glacier Lilies and those tiny-ass huckleberries (grouse berries?) the main greenery so far. 2 large snow patches around lookout. Ladybug hatch yesterday and today.

Hauled water with a different packboard today: holy shit, comfort. Relatively speaking, anyway. Compared to the last two times I hauled water, I practically ran up the mountain today. 

Started sprouts, fed sourdough, soaked beans. Nido (whole powdered milk) is good. Took shower, using Solar Shower to heat the water: two black bags, with a total of 5 gallons water placed in sun for 3+ hours equals a decent shower! If I could turn the wind off, I'd really be in heaven. 

Penstemon blooming on S-SE ridge. Lilies getting tired. Phlox, shooting stars, heather starting up. Golden-mantled ground squirrels, chipmunks, pikas. Birds of prey on thermals, don't know which yet. Hummingbirds buzzing at north and west windows. Wish I had a feeder. 

NOTE: If'n you feel like it, you can check out Biggs' blog about his and Adam's adventure to visit me.
Thanks, Tim, Jeff and Morgan--I borrowed a picture from each of you.