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  • There's really no difference between here and home.

  • It's just everything's compacted down to a 14 by 14 room.

  • Once you start staffing your lookout, you're gonna be working 10 days on, four days off, late June until usually mid-September.

  • It's a pretty quiet existence.

  • This is my 24th season as a Fire Lookout.

  • Really it's just you and the wind and the time just melts away.

  • My name is Leif Haugen, and we're at Thoma Lookout.

  • A fire lookout is a structure that sits on top of a mountain or a ridge-top that has a good view of the surrounding country and the staffer, then, is tasked with living there for extended periods to watch for fire.

  • It's funny, 'cause I get a lot of questions about the standard day.

  • You wake up with the sun.

  • I mean, it's hard to sleep in a room of glass much beyond sunrise.

  • First thing I'll do is make a cup of coffee.

  • (instrumental music)

  • And usually I'll have that first cup of coffee on the front porch, sit out there, watch the sun come up.

  • Certainly every morning I go out for a walk.

  • I check in at 10.

  • (radio chatter)

  • Hey good morning, I have 67 degrees.

  • I take the weather every day at two.

  • Winds are calm, skies are clear.

  • And checkout at 4:15.

  • (radio chatter)

  • Have a good day.

  • I think the solitary nature, when there's really no fires going, the only thing I might do is check in on the radio twice a day.

  • That might be the only time I really talk unless I'm talking to myself.

  • I think what's so tricky sometimes talking about the lookout experience, is you're not talking to anybody about it.

  • So you more intuit it, you more experience it.

  • I think that's why I always use the term resonance because you just can feel it and sense it.

  • Maybe that's fanciful but it certainly is the way I feel about it.

  • You know you just find yourself sitting on the porch watching the world go by for hours on end.

  • It's beautiful.

  • When you look at, you know, the lifestyle of a fire lookout, it can be a hard choice at times, too, you know, I'm missing a wedding tonight.

  • Over the course of the summer, you might miss a lot of stuff in your life.

  • But certainly every summer I keep coming back because living on top of a mountain for days on end, is just such a beautiful chance at making a life of it.

There's really no difference between here and home.

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A2 US GreatBigStory lookout radio chatter fire radio porch

The Quiet Life of the King of the Mountain

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    Celine Chien posted on 2020/08/15
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