July 30, 2011

Needles Lookout Lost to Fire

Those that visit this site know that I am the volunteer leader for the Black Mountain Fire Lookout. Sherry calls it my timeshare tree-house, as I put in my hours and enjoy the benefits of a unique place at the top of the world. That being said, I have a special place in my heart for fire lookouts.

On Thursday, we lost an amazing fire lookout, in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, in the Sequoia National Forest.

The Needles lookout tower was built between 1937 and 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The tower overlooked Kern River Drainage, Mt. Whitney, Olancha Peak, Farewell Gap and Dome Rock.

According to the local fire department spokesperson, the tower staff had a fire going in the wood-burning fireplace when an ember escaped from the chimney and landed on the tower’s wood-shingle roof, catching the roof on fire. The Lookout staff member had worked in that tower every fire season for 25 years, hiking over two miles to get to work, with the last third of a mile being stairs across the granite peak.

It seems that we lose a couple towers every year, but I can't tell you when the last one was built.

July 10, 2011

Deja Vu All Over Again

Andy got invited to go on a camping trip this weekend with friends, so we cancelled our Dogwood reservations for next weekend and went this weekend instead. Andy went to Bonita Ranch, a converted trailer park along the lower fork of Lytle Creek (like camping in a backyard, except for the creek and hike to  Bonita Falls).

I took my Mom for our annual Mother-Son trip to Table Mountain. We were just there two months ago, but this time, we stayed in the same site we were in back in 2007 with our Caboose. We forgot to bring cameras, so here is a photo from that trip four years ago.

We had a terrific time in one of our favorite campgrounds. We saw a sailplane catching thermals above us, and once the sun went down, bats took it's place in acrobatics above our campfire. We brought Mom's dog Sadie, who would have spent the weekend sequestered in the closet while Mom was gone. Instead, she spent the weekend being a dog -- digging holes and getting dirty. That meant a stop at the do-it-yourself Paw Spa