Mountaintop dining (human and ursine) ...

August 25, 2015

As you'll remember, I agonized a fair amount over the food I was going to pack up here for my lookout stay. It turns out I worried about it more than most of the volunteer lookouts do; generally, it seems like they either eat only freeze-dried meals, or they simply graze on snacks. In contrast, many of the paid lookouts pride themselves on their high-altitude cooking. I know one, for example, who's mastered the art of creating mountaintop quiche.

I'm about midway between those two extremes. I brought enough freeze-dried dinners for about half my evenings here, but I'm still trying to do a fair amount of actual cooking. An emphasis on comfort food, as this sample breakfast indicates:

(Yep, I carried a dozen raw eggs up the mountain ... only cracked one of them.)

I baked some muffins for lunch today, and tonight they're all gone.

I'm quickly discovering that the issue up here isn't the act of cooking, but rather the fact that meal preparation and cleanup both require water. Water is a precious commodity up here; there's none available at the lookout, and my only source is a small stream about a mile down the trail. Hauling a few gallons of water up the side of the mountain is a regular necessity up here, but it's a giant pain in the butt.

After the radio check-in this afternoon, I called a neighboring lookout to let them know I was going to be away for a while, and hiked down the trail to replenish my water supply. I loaded my pack with about 5-1/2 gallons of water from the little, ice-cold stream, and poured another couple gallons of stream water over my head to wash up. That felt amazingly good.

On the way back, I was trudging through an overgrown area of huckleberry bushes and shrubs and suddenly I heard a crashing sound about 50 feet away. It was a black bear, putting together a dinner of huckleberries for himself. I think both Charlie and I were a little relieved that he only seemed interested in dining on berries.