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Archive for April, 2012

Five Mile Butte Fire Lookout Tower – Spring 2012 edition

I’ve got Lightroom 4 installed now, and this weekend provided plenty of opportunity to take a million shots so I could put my new program to use. I carried up my Canon 7D SLR and my Canon Digital Rebel. Although the camera gear probably added a few more pounds to my load, I’m glad I brought it (even if my camera bag drowned in the treck up in rain and snot – I really need to figure out how to wash the poor thing.)

For this set, I created 4 watermark templates in LR4 and applied one to every photo so I can get the hang of it and see how well this design works. This really bogged down my editing process, and I may need to figure out a new procedure.

After going to Five Mile Butte last fall, I fell in love with the place and immediately booked again as soon as I returned home.

Being in the Hood National Forest, the tower gets a lot of snow. The description on the website says the gate to the top is open after March 15, so I stupidly assumed that meant snow would be gone by then, or at least be thin enough our Subaru could handle the drive up. You know what they say … don’t assume.

I called the ranger station on Monday to get the combination to the tower and asked about road conditions for our drive up on Thursday (we had it reserved for March 29-April 1). She laughed at me when I asked if my Subaru could make it to the top. OK … change of plans – my party of 5 would have to park at Billy Bob sno park, three miles from the tower, and hike in the rest of the way with our gear.

No problem, we’re young and fit (mostly) – we can handle a 3 mile hike with 30 pounds of gear. Huzzah!

Yeah, that attitude lasted all of 20 minutes after we started packing in. It was raining, at least 35 degrees out, and those packs were getting heavier by the minute (I blame the rain weighing them down.)

Here’s Megan about a mile and half in. She’s a trooper and dragged 3 gallons of water and 5 liters of wine on a sled.

After THREE rediculously strenuous hours, during which we encountered rain, freezing rain, blizzards and 3-feet-deep snow toward the top, we made it to the tower. Next time, if there is a next time, we bring snow shoes …

Thankfully, the forest service installed a new mattress since the last time I was there. Lucky for us, we had the cabin toasty in no time.

We made sure to pack the necessities.

Scary/slippery! There’s 41 steps, up three flights, the last being the steepest.

The fog socked us in the first two days – the snow and wind were relentless.

Here’s Yoshi on the catwalk. We had to carry him up and down because he’s too scared. Also note the pee bucket, lol. A precious gift from the forest service.

The wood stove in this thing is amazing. We had it at or near 80 degrees the entire time. Sometimes it was too hot! Overnight lows outside dipped to 23.

On Saturday, the clouds finally cleared and we played in the snow, went sledding and built snowmen. Several of these snowmen were already there when we showed up.

We walked out Saturday to meet up with Julie and Tom. They’d planned to come up Friday after five, but after our 3+ hour walk up we convinced them to wait until the next morning. Here’s our trail heading west from the tower. It only took them an hour and a half to make it up – better weather makes a difference!

A fun group of campers!

Although we had some sunny skies on the walk out Sunday, the wind was brutal and picked up the new snow. A few more feet fell in the three days we were there.

Yoshi’s super dog! He had a blast until the snow got too deep for him to go on and we had to carry him for about 2 miles.

The snow was thigh-deep in some places. I think it’s time to invest in some snow shoes!

So nice to get back to Billy Bob and see our vehicles were still there.

At the time I said I wouldn’t do it again, but I lied. I’d love to book this again for a winter stay – after I get snow shoes and learn how to pack a little lighter. I wonder if we should have left Yoshi home because the thick snow was too much for his little body and he kept developing huge snow balls on his chest. Although he had a blast, we were lucky we didn’t have to carry him on the way up (when we all reached our physical limits). I wonder if it’d be worth crating him and strapping his crate to a sled … Next time.