Greetings ! If you have an interest in firelookouts, Jack Kerouac, or the North Cascades I am happy you have found your way here. The story outlined on this site is from a 2007 — 7 day assignment where I staffed the firelookout on top of Desolation Peak in the North Cascades National Park. The website is just to tell the story — no other reason and nothing is for sale. Everyone has great stories from their life and I would like to hear yours too…..
I have had a full medical practice in a nearby town until my recent retirement. So this spring I finally had time to create this website. I have staffed other lookouts before this one (including nearby Sourdough Mountain) and some afterward in Washington and Idaho — but this is the most famous one for me.. Since it was a quiet week up there ( no fires close ) in 2007– I wrote down this story at the time and now have added some photographs. I grew very, very fond of that mountaintop just as Kerouac had and want to thank Andris Vezis and Tod Johnson NPS for giving me the chance. Over the years I have hiked up there eight times. Special place. Hope to get up there or Sourdough yet again.
You might wonder why a busy physician would go staff a lookout on a mountaintop miles from “anywhere”. Well, I couldn’t afford to leave my practice for the traditional entire summer…. but a week or 10 days each year was very practical….a complete change of pace. Medicine can grind you down day after day —especially if you are solo like I was and have to take care of everything yourself – all the patients, hiring, firing, taxes, contracts, credentialing, hospital committees etc. etc. I found though that lookout duty each summer replenished the freshness and spontaneity in my life– in a word— the joy. Above timberline the air and views are soft, tinted with pastel light and magic in the early morning and late evening. You don’t typically see that on a dayhike where you hit the top only in the middle of the day. But that is when I can hear the better part of myself——> gratitude comes rolling in effortlessly, automatically….like waves on a beach and my soul slowly rehydrates. I become profondly appreciative of what I have been given.
The narrative is divided into two completely separate sections — Chapters and Haikus. In each section the pages lead one to the next. To switch between the sections — press on the Menu icon ( which are the small horizontal orange bars in the upper right corner of the blue stripe at the top of each page ). The Chapters part tells the story as it unfolded. The Haiku are short poems I wrote up there to honor Jack who wrote lots of them. He also of a course wrote the book Desolation Angels which has a small section about his 63 days atop Desolation. There he wrote ” Desolation, Desolation , I owe so much to Desolation, thank you forever for guiding me to the place where I learned all “
I hope you enjoy this site. As of 7-10-19 I have added a Comment page on the main menu. I appreciate your thoughts about Desolation Peak, Jack Kerouac, or this narrative……thank you. My email address: email@example.com
8-15-20 Have not made it up to Desolation this summer so far. Unfortunately I have a knee which is swollen and likely will prevent a hike this month and perhaps next month. I also have traditionally done Shriner Peak LO in Mt. Rainier every 5 years and this is the year. I turn 70 in late October and I am getting a taste of old age : (. I hope your summer is going better.