This is the third and final part of the story of our visit to a fire lookout tower on the top of Gird Point in the Sapphire Mountains, a two and a half hour drive from our house, followed by a one hour hike. For part one of this story, click here. For part two, click here.
I do wish I was back at the lookout tower right about now. We are watching a friend's dog while they are out of town and the dog is not happy...at night. He doesn't want to go in the shop and sleep like our two dogs do. He also doesn't want to be left outside. We're not sure what he wants, but here it is, 3:30 in the morning and I am sitting up, listening to him bark unconsolably from the shop, trying to decide what to do. Our younger dog, Fudge, has taken to howling in protest of the visitor's noisy bedside manner. We have another week of this, at least. Oh, my.
So the best I can do, in lieu of sleep, is look back on the memories at the tower. Our second day there started slowly--not a bad thing at all. By midday, we decided that we wanted to earn our lunch and chose a rocky outcropping on the next peak over as our destination. Hiking without heavy packs (just a daypack carrying our lunch and water bottles and my camera) proved to be much easier and we set out without a trail. The altitude added a bit of difficulty, but it wasn't bad at all and we fairly quickly reached our rocky picnic ground. We enjoyed our simple fare tremendously. The view of our tower, on the next peak to the south, was pretty cool.
From there, we decided to hike to yet another point--this one covered with dead trees from the fire that had swept through the area a few years back. The trees, bleached white skeletons with patches charred black, were falling, one by one, as their root systems gave up. Every good wind toppled more over, leaving the peak looking something like a disorderly pine tree graveyard. We struggled to climb over so many trees in our path and were about to give up on that peak when we discovered how much easier it was to walk on the fallen tree trunks themselves. Andy invented a game on the spot, whereby we had to race to the top utilizing only the fallen trees as our pathways--no touching the ground at all. It looked possible, so we set out following our own personal mazes. It was actually really fun and we laughed at how serious and competitive we each became.
"Touch!" I called out as I lost my balance and had to step onto the ground. The man was winning. "Touch!" I called again. I was toast. It took us much of an hour to reach the top this way, but it was creative and intriguing and we didn't notice a bit of fatigue, as a result. Sure enough, he beat me to the top, but he didn't stop there, climbing up a partially fallen tree to gain even more elevation, rubbing in his win just a bit. It was all in good fun.
Coming down was more of a challenge, for sure, as balance is somehow easier going up. We explored a few more areas and bits of trails we found (perhaps just animal paths) before returning to the tower, sweaty and spent.
After sitting in the cool breeze for a while (an hour? two hours? hard to say) on the veranda, we were refreshed and cooled down and prepared ourselves some dinner. One particular cloud to the east was gradually forming into something spectacular, turning bright dramatic colors. As we watched it, it began to flash with lightning, first one side of the cloud and then the other, like two siblings competing for attention. We settled down with our wine to watch the show, oohing and aahing appropriately. We smiled at the wonder of it all, dinner and a show, mountain-top style.
The rest of the time at the lookout passed in similar fashion. The last morning, we cleaned the cabin and wrote in the guest book in anticipation of the next party's arrival later that day. There was nothing terribly dramatic to make much more of a story to write here. We simply enjoyed each other, our location, our freedom, our solitude and privacy, everything. We felt rich and spoiled to have it so good. We will do this again, without a doubt.
Oh, listen...the dogs are quiet.