For the Love of Fire Lookouts

Cinnamon Butte Lookout

Fire lookouts are quickly becoming another favorite subject.   On Saturday we headed out to Cinnamon Butte Lookout.   This lookout was actually accessible by car (and has a HUGE helipad).   We lucked out with the weather all weekend – and had an incredible panoramic view from the lookout.   Taylor was spending his third summer as a lookout on Cinnamon Butte – although this year, he had the company of his insanely cute pup Rocket.   We had a great time hanging out and chatting with Taylor and Rocket about night photography, lightning strikes (including one time Taylor was basically trapped in bed for 13 hours during a lightning storm – the bed is insulated as is the ‘lightning stool’).

Taylor in his summer home

sleepy rocket

alert rocket

Trail to Illahee Rock Lookout

After such a great experience at Cinnamon Butte Lookout, our priority the next day was to check out the Illahee Rock Lookout.   This lookout was a bit more remote.  We followed the somewhat vague directions in the brochure and ended up at a dead end after about 6 miles on a gravel road.   We found a ‘trailhead’ and walked about a mile, then turned around to check out the ‘other’ trail where we finally saw the lookout perched above the ridge.   After finally finding the right trailhead (a good tipoff was the huge US Forest Service engine truck in the tiny parking area), we set off on the 1 mile hike to the lookout.  The hike was steep and gorgeous – it felt like something out of a fairytale as we wound our way up to the lookout.   At the top, we passed the original lookout (which was boarded up) and finally made it to the lookout.  Another amazingly clear day provided spectacular views as we walked up the stairs to say hello to the fire lookout.    Lise Wall had been stationed at the Illahee Rock Lookout for the past 14 (!!) summers.   She gave us a ton of information about the area for future explorations and really warmed up with talk of photography, particularly the use of film.   She asked us if we knew of a good ‘local’ place to get her film developed, so we sang the praises of Blue Moon.   We ended up trading portraits – she took a picture of us with her Rolleicord and I did a couple shots with my instax and left one with her.  It was a really wonderful experience and only increased our desire to do some more work to photograph and document fire lookout towers and the dedicated people who work in them.

Lise with her rolleicord

Lise taking our picture

instax photo