31 July 2011

El Gato Fuera de la Bolsa

Yesterday I let the cat out of the bag. A few people know--Devon, my boss at the cafe, our Neighbors Smithington, my brother. And on el facebooko yesterday, I told my co-Red River lookout and his wife, figuring that, since we have no mutual friends that have steady internet service, it might not show up for everyone. Oh, silly little me. So here you have it:

I have wangled my way into a lookout here in Washington for what remains of the summer (that is, what's left of the months usually assigned to summer, and fire, weather). Thorp Mountain Lookout is northwest of Cle Elum and Roslyn (made famous by Northern Exposure). At 5854', it falls just a wee bit below Sheep Hill's 8402'. It is even a little short by Washington lookout elevation standards, but is reputed to have such excellent views that it has been in service since 1930 or '31, and the existing L-4 cabin is the original. If this is the 80th anniversary year, well, how effing cool would that be?! I am curious to find out.

Thorp is also a hike-in, though as short as 2.5 miles, and will still involve a pack-string of mules to get my grub and gear in. Interestingly, it is nearly the same distance between Thorp LO and Seattle as between Sheep Hill LO and Grangeville. With the small difference of an interstate highway and a couple of million people in between, rather than backroads and a few thousand people.

What with the short hike and the 'easy' (by comparison) drive, and with the addition of 4 days off after 10 on, I will be coming off the lookout occasionally, too. Which feels like cheating. Hell, I could even save my laundry for town. I can have fresh vegetables. And more riesen candies, or gin, if I run out. If something is lacking, that allows me to do my job well, or take care of the lookout properly, I can hike out and fetch it, instead of putting it on the to-do list for next year. Whoa.

Of course, the short hike and easy drive (from Seattle, sweet jeebus) mean that I could also see as many people in a busy Saturday as I saw all season, last year.


My food and goods are starting to pile up, along with this year's reading list. My friends gave me some excellent reading suggestions last year, and I am quite open to hearing more. I'm very, very lucky to have the support of my boss (and good friend), Charles; and the support and love of Devon. The two of them had the power to say no, or at least make me feel very guilty about doing what I need and love to do, and they did not. Thank you both. I am very excited. It will be very different, in what feels like nearly every way. If it's interesting enough, and you all want to hear about it, I will share my gleanings again this fall.

Link to SummitPost
(photo courtesy of the WTA)

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