Mount Rainier: Fremont Fire Lookout

A contribution from a friend, as it appeared in the fire lookout log Saturday morning:

2 September, 2011, Fremont Fire Lookout, Mt. Rainier National Park

“As the world turns”

KyleThe lookout plays a game of peek-a-boo as we approach from the south. Our footsteps along the slate rock trail make the sound of fine china breaking. My best buddy Haven and I burn through a camera battery in an attempt to capture the majesty of this place. As we prep for dinner, two sets of hikers arrive, one in search of ptarmigans, the other the sunset, the latter being more successful. As the moon disappears behind Columbia Crest, the sun puts on a magenta show and refuses to draw the curtain. Nightfall arrives and the wind plays a never ending game of paddy cakes with the shutters. Day breaks, the marmot takes a sun shower, and I take a trek to the loo, for my most scenic shit ever. We eat breakfast and head out in search of lupine landscapes.

-Kyle,  Biological Technician 806-Amphibians

Fremont lookout

This was my turn to visit Kyle in his new summer home since he visited me on the Smith River in June. In typical Haven style, we got a crack of 4pm start on our way to the look out.

Coral head mushroom

Coral head mushroom

Being well fortified before heading out was more important and we continued our traditions of culinary explorations with sauteed coral head mushroom over fresh eggs from Feral’s chickens.

It was only a few miles hike and a late start gave us the advantage of prime evening glow on the north side of Mt. Rainier.


No longer used in Mount Rainier National Park, the lookouts serve as shelter for rangers and park employees working in the back country, or for employees like Kyle, using them on their days off for recreation. Though Fremont lookout still has an Osborne Fire Finder, a type of alidade used by fire lookouts in order to find a directional bearing to smoke in order to alert fire crews to a wildland fire, it no longer had the map that should be on the base of the device. This circular map would have been centered on the lookout and covered an area as far as the horizon line on a clear day.


Looking through the Osborne Fire Finder

The lookout was equipped with a propane stove so we took advantage of our light packs and loaded them with fresh veggies and homegrown homemade pesto for dinner.


Kyle preps dinner at sunset

Kyle and I dropped back down from the lookout in early morning light- there is no sleeping in when the 360 degree windows let in not only the sunrise, but the sunrise’s reflection off of Mt. Rainier’s glacial ice and snow. And though our visitors the evening before were unsuccessful in seeing ptarmigan, we did the next morning. A mama with 2 nearly grown chicks, standing between me and the loo. Unwilling to move, I gingerly stepped around them. It was needless effort though, they just continued about their clucking. and gave me a mild stink eye.

Mt. Rainier

Northeast side of Mt. Rainier in morning light

In search of the most bedazzling wildflower show we headed to a lake where Kyle had recently worked doing his amphibian searches. Past Sunrise Lake, Clover Lake and into Hidden lake we hiked through luscious fields of crayola glory. To the west of Hidden Lake the trail ends and we followed a cross-country path up a steep pass that leads to Green Park. It was one of the most densely blooming displays I’ve ever seen.

Green Park Saddle

Saddle between Green Park and Hidden Lake

Hiding beneath the Broadleaf Lupine and Sitka Valarian were Pasqueflower seedheads, Castilleja or Paintbrush, Gray’s Lovage, Broadleaf Arnica, Penstemon, two kinds of Pedicularis, or Lousewort, American Bistort and many others.

More hiking, wildflowers and views to come over the next couple days. At this rate I’ll be lucky if I make it home by Tuesday!

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