The view south was of Buffalo Hump and the Gospel Hump. It was the summer of the lighting strikes and red flag winds. I listened as Dutcher got evacuated. He was calm and cool as ever. 5am with visible flames, the head fire guy making sure he got out of there. Coolwater was still up and I had another couple days before they took me down. My supervisor telling me things I had no previous context for like,
The guys from Musselshell will be up in the morning to wrap the cabin.
I'd been watching the Big Hill fire and small starts that would eventually be named: Walde 1, 2 and 3 among them.
Woodrat was on fire. The state was involved. Everybody that could help was involved. Private residents were doing what they could to protect their properties. I listened as crews from out of state called in resources and our local dispatchers said they'd do their best to get them, but to proceed as if nothing would arrive. There was a great strain on the system. California, Oregon and Washington were already on fire.
Dispatch told the lookouts to stop calling in smokes over the radio. Just catalog them and contact your supervisor directly if there's something they need to know. We'll call you if we need anything.
The day before the crew arrived to wrap the cabin, I watched a smoke jumper plane circle the fire to my north a couple times before scratching the drop. Even if they could find a place for the jumpers to land there was no way out for them. The amount of small starts was impressive. Red flag winds forecast for the following day forced a new level of prudence on the bravest group of forest service firefighters.
This should really be a link to Pilot Knob Lookout but I don't have the history on it like I do on Walde where I sat for 4 summers soaking in the view.
One of my off season jobs was to complie a list of all the lookouts on the forest, thanks to the help of Cindy Schacher. Past and present. There's a rich history in this forest surrounding fire lookouts.
Follow the link to see the list on the FS website. Click on the picture of the lookout that says Clearwater Lookouts.
...paying off my student loans. I had a graphic designer friend scan 11 of them into her computer.
She gave me a floppy disk (like I said it was the 90s) with the pictures and I printed up a handful of paper coloring books.
I went into Book People and traded the coloring books for a Townes' Van Zandt CD. Nowhere close to paying for a months worth of my student debt, much less the whole thing.
It was before the Zen doodling craze of the new millenium. I had no patience for nor skill at marketing.
The floppy disk went in a drawer and when it came out computers weren't capable of reading it anymore.
I wonder if anyone ever colored in one of those books title Prodigal Daughter or if they all ended up starting a fire or lining a compost bin.
All pictures the original artwork of Matti Sand copyright from 1997 on.
Matti Sand copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved