Lookouts have always captivated my attention since moving to the Pacific Northwest from the south. The history, how they came about, and how they built them is a story worth reading. I am amazed when standing at Three Finger Lookout after climbing the wooden ladders on the edge and wonder how did they end up putting a cabin here in 1931. But you lose those thoughts in the wonder of the view. I am drawn to them because of curiosity on how they got there and the men and women who experienced the loneliness of the duty for perhaps months at a time.
They had majestic views. They would see the waxing of the day and it’s waning into the night. This would bring the expanse of the heavens full of specks of light from horizon to horizon and the dusty Milky Way cutting through the dark dome. The views… snow-capped mountains, green carpeted forests, or color exploding with the coming of fall. It is why I am drawn to the lookouts. It is why I’ve climbed to over 50 of the different lookouts or their former residences over the past few years.
I shared this passion with my daughter who this past summer twice was able to spend nights at the Suntop Lookout as we volunteered “the watch.” Although her first experience had her asking why had her father done this to her. After trudging up the trail we found the door locked. After hiking back to the car and getting the key at the ranger station, back we came to the following view:
She must have thought dad was crazy. I told her Mount Rainier was right out there, but all she saw were clouds and mist. Then the sun sank in the west (we did not see of course).
A few hours later I woke her up to see the heavens, for the clouds had receded beneath us. Together we sat and looked at those points of light; soaking in the immensity of the heavens we do not see during the waking hours.
Then morning light arrived to wake the slumbering mountain before us. A softness of pink light took hold of the sky and dawn arrived.
A few hours later, we said good-bye to the lookout. My daughter turned to me and asked, when are we doing this again. Ah, the passion was shared.
There is a good listing of Washington lookouts with some links at Summitpost.org (http://www.summitpost.org/washington-lookouts/564151).