We took a short breather last week, and headed up to the mountains for a stay in a fire lookout tower. After having stayed in one last summer, I perused all the possible openings for the next season and found a couple nights available at Fivemile Butte. Fire lookouts are not easy to book as they fill up very fast. I made the reservation with excitement and abandon. Having just returned from weeks of camping that was the current mood, and it worked out well because how do you know what will be happening so many months up the road? There is no point in deliberating over it. Just go with it!
Admittedly, I would never have taken time out to go camping right now, but the timing could not have been more perfect. It has been a stressful past month or so, and a shift was really needed.
When we finally arrived after the long journey up, the weather started to quickly change. The sun gave way to clouds; the wind, which had been blowing pretty hard for the latter portion of our drive, started blowing harder; and we felt a slight mist start to fall. Steven chopped some kindling and a few extra pieces of firewood and I continued packing things up the stairs. For me this was a welcome activity after sitting for so many hours.
We set up our space, explored around the property for a while and then settled in for the evening.
We had cooked a pot of beans and rice at home to bring along, and while we had packed other meals, that turned out to be such a nice convenience and all we really needed for our nights up there. We heated tortillas with cheese, beans and rice, on our griddle over the woodstove and were just so happy to be up in the trees and mountains. Amidst our chatting and general enjoyment we didn’t pay too much mind to the wind, but once we went to bed it became apparent how rowdy it was. I woke in the middle of the night and laid awake for quite some time, heart beating hard, imagining all the possible ways we could potentially survive if the tower blew over. Even on our very windy coast, I am not used to that kind of constant heavy wind. In the morning I learned that Steven went through something similar! In the morning we also discovered we’d had a visitor, snacking on apples and pooping on the table. Mice just have no table manners.
By morning the clouds had cleared and the wind had calmed down significantly. It is such a treat to wake up in a tower in the sunshine. In my opinion, it’s impossible to wake up on the wrong side of the bed under these circumstances. Even if you find mouse poop on your table.
To the west of the tower Mt Hood is pretty impressive and can be seen from a lot of places on the site, and to the north, even though a bit hazy most of the time, Mt Tahoma and Mt Adams could be seen.
We took the mornings slow, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the views. While the days were fairly warm, there were freezing temps at night and the mornings were pretty chilly.
We took some short hikes, finding lupine, arrowleaf balsamroot and other spring wildflowers starting to bloom. We saw deer and various birds, and the bees were going crazy for the flowering manzanita. After tromping around we snugged up in the sun next to the woodshed where we were sheltered from the breeze, and just blissed out on the warmth and rest – me with my plant guides and Steven with his milk thistle seeds.
This trip inspired me to want to get out camping more in all seasons. I realized how few experiences I’ve had in the mountains when the wildflowers are blooming, and I like to imagine stepping out with my snowshoes on in the winter. And as always, I feel so restored by nature. There is nothing so healing as the earth, the wind, the sky, the sun, and the allowance of the time and space to just let go and be.