“Lightning moving from Hozomeen slowly west into red clouds turning gray, then black; rising wind. Sheet lightning pacing over Little Beaver, fork lightning striking Beaver Pass.
This morning a sudden heavy shower of rain and a thick fog. A buck scared: ran off with stiff springy jumps down the snowfield. Throwing sprays of snow with every leap: head held stiffly high.” from Gary Snyder’s Lookout Journal.
Recently, we have been working with many of the Land Library’s forestry books. One unexpected outcome of that work has been the discovery (right in our midst) of a very fun and quirky collection of books on the history and lore of fire towers, fire lookouts, and similar stations of both lonely isolation and peaceful solitude (take your pick!).
Not many of us will have such an opportunity that both slows the clock and sharpens the senses. But, hopefully we can carry a few insights into our daily lives from the people who have scanned the vast and lonely horizons. Come to think of it, the Land Library has more than a few books on wilderness poets, monks and hermits. Maybe they all deserve a section of their own?
Pictured above: Mountains of Memory: A Fire Lookout’s Life in the River of No Return Wilderness by Don Scheese (a lookout in the central Idaho wilderness for over ten years), and Black Sun, by Edward Abbey (like the novel’s main character, Abbey was a fire lookout along the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park).
For more information on the romance and history of fire lookouts, follow this link to the Forest Fire Lookout Association!
And here’s just a few more volumes from the Land Library’s shelves:
Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades by John Suiter, Adirondack Fire Towers by Martin Podskoch, The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, Look Out: A Selection of Writings by Gary Snyder.
Nehasane: Fire Observer — An Adirondack Woman’s Summer of ’42 by Frances Boone Seaman, Go Tell it on the Mountain: A Collection of Lookout Writings, edited by J. Johnson Maughan.
I went out in my alpine yard and there it was…hundreds of miles of pure snow-covered rocks and virgin lakes and high timber. — Jack Kerouac
Kerouac was a fire observer at the Desolation Lookout in 1956.