The Disappearing Fire Lookout Towers!

Many moon ago, I had the opportunity to be a fire lookout in Northern California. You can read all about it in my book Fire Girl.  It was awesome to wake up to a 360 degree view from the top of a mountain.  Back in the day, it was a lonely man or woman with a pair of binoculars perched high on a mountain top that spotted forest fires.   There aren’t many working fire lookout towers any longer because of modern technology in spotting fires.   The Service has made many lookout towers available to rent for a weekend, which I think is pretty cool.  Unfortunately a lot of the towers are crumbling or have been completely torn down.

The design of this tower is pretty cool. I hadn’t seen one quite like this.

So let’s take a 4 wheelin’ and hiking trip to Pilot Peak in Plumas County in Northern California!

From Dreaming to SAILING!

For a couple of years now,I’ve been sailing around the world…..from my couch!  I’ve been obsessed with a few YouTuber channels called Sailing LaVagabonde, SV Delos, Gone with the Wynns, among a few others have taught me all sorts of sailing jargon and terminology not to mention I get to visit places I’d probably never see in my life (in person).

I can tell you what “taking a reef” means… or What a Spinnaker is… or the difference between a Ketch and a Sloop and a slew of other random sailing facts.. but I’ve NEVER stepped foot onto a sail boat – EVER – in my whole entire life until last weekend!

I was nervous , excited, afraid I would puke (drugs worked) and I waited for two whole months for this day to arrive! Would I do it again??? HELL YES!  So, here we go on my first sail from Richmond CA to Angel Island and around the San Francisco Bay thanks to “Captain Ed” who graciously took a group of six out for a glorious day on the bay!

AHOY!

 

On Top of the World Hike-AKA-I can’t Believe I Walked up That Hike!

The Sierra Buttes lookout tower was originally perched on top of this rock at 9000ft back in 1915! Can you believe it?

Over the years the original wooden structure was replaced by concrete and metal. In 1964 the crazy STRAIGHT UP stairs were put in place.

How the workers got up to the lookout before the stairs is beyond me as I can’t find any information or pictures of this lookout tower back in the old days!

If anyone has info and pics, please share!!!

This tower has been decommissioned and again, I can’t find any information on when they stopped using it. I guess I could call the Forest Service!

Anyway, this is a MUST DO hike. However… if you are afraid of heights, or have vertigo, you might not want to go all the way up on the crazy stairs. They are steep and I really had to concentrate on my footing and not look behind me as I went up! Going down wasn’t as scary.

Mt. Judah & Donner Peak! WOW!!!!

This wonderful trail in the Northern California Sierra, with abundant spectacular views is a must-do if you traverse around Donner Summit. The trail starts on the PCT just down the road from Donner Ski Ranch. You then take the Mount Judah loop trail from the PCT. Don’t forget to hike up to the summit of Donner Peak while on your way around and look out the “window” onto Donner Lake! WOW!

 

What’s in my Day Hiking Back Pack?

Even if I’m doing an easy 5 miler in the high country, I always carry the 10 essentials and MORE! After having to almost spend the night in the high country completely unprepared after a short little hike to a lookout tower, I learned a hard lesson! I know carry items to sustain me in the wilderness for a couple of nights until help arrives.
Disclaimer: This is what I carry. You may have different ideas! I’d love to hear them!

Here is the link to the fiasco I was involved in a couple of years ago where I almost had to spend the night in the freezing cold!

 

The Story about my (almost) night in the mountains!  

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Compass: https://amzn.to/2t2yoQ4

Emergency Bivvy Bag: https://amzn.to/2ykuwyS

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter: https://amzn.to/2tbtCyV

Small Gerber Knife: https://amzn.to/2t0wTlz

Light folding Saw: https://amzn.to/2HSFVWj

Tyvek Sheet: https://amzn.to/2HSVIo6

Personal Locator Beacon: https://amzn.to/2HRqIos

Bug Head Net: https://amzn.to/2lbOtyv

Anker Charging Station (20,000 mil Amp) https://amzn.to/2l9Nwa5

Butt pad: https://amzn.to/2t1aS5Y

Cooling towel: https://amzn.to/2LPw2Lt

GPS Navigation that I use with my phone:

Gaia:https: https//www.gaia.com
Guthook for PCT: http://www.guthookhikes.com/apps
Halfmile for PCT: https://www.pctmap.net/
Wikiloc: https://www.wikiloc.com
Peak Finder: https://www.peakfinder.org

Let’s take a Walk Back in Time!

Bridgeport in Nevada County California is a hidden gem of Northern California!  If you are into gold rush history, you are gonna LOVE this place! Just up Hwy 20 near Penn Valley, you can make a day of meandering the hills on the various hiking trails, looking at the cool historical exhibits, swim in the river and have a nice family outing!

It just costs $5.00 to park! What a deal!

And the best part is the awesome covered bridge that is the largest standing covered bridge in the world!

Stupid Humans = FIRE

Spring is my favorite time! The wild flowers are abundant and so colorful! I don’t have to feed our horses any hay, which saves us a ton of dollars! However, the season is so short and we have to get onto the mowing before the grass dies in just a few short weeks! We have wildfires all around our neighborhood every single summer! These fires are most always caused by a stupid careless human! We are getting ready!!

As a former wildland firefighter, I know how quickly a grass fire can take out an entire ranch, home barns, animals and people. Now if we can only get HUMANS to STOP throwing lit cigarettes out of their car windows, STOP mowing dry grass in 100 degree weather, and be mindful of where they park a hot vehicles on the side of the road where there IS dry grass! These are the typical fire starters!