May 11, 2009

Do You See It?

There, on the top of those rocks, at almost 8,000' is the Black Mountain Lookout. Earlier tonight I was given the keys to the mountain and I take over as the leader of about thirty volunteer lookout hosts.

Black Mountain is near San Jacinto Peak, and the town of Idyllwild. It has spectacular views of the Santa Rosa Mountains, Mt. Palomar Observatory to the south, San Gorgonio Pass to the north, and on a clear day you can see as far as the ocean to west. Occasionally, glider planes come over San Jacinto Peak, riding the desert and mountain wind currents, and wisp by silently.

Unlike most of the other lookouts, Black is not an electronic pincushion of radio towers. The only radio on this peak is the solar powered Forest Service repeater. Without any electricity at this lookout, the cab is illuminated with propane lanterns, and the restroom is a hike away from the tower (it does flush!).

I've canceled my shifts at Strawberry Peak this season, and I will be making two or three trips a month up to Black Mountain. This should be quite an adventure.