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tvashtarkatena

Winter Care of Our Lookouts - A Request

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Washington is graced with a some of the most beautiful and historic lookouts in the nation. Some of these are open for public use.

 

A few dedicated volunteer caretakers maintain these lookouts. The vast majority of visitors respect them and leave them as clean as they found them for the future users.

 

There have been a few exceptions, however:

 

Lookout_Damage-1.jpg

 

Here are some ways visitors can help preserve these treasures for generations to come:

 

1) Please don't 'leave your mark', as Mississippi Gene saw fit to do here, or otherwise damage the lookout (This graffiti was cleaned off by a volunteer caretaker).

 

2) Please take all garbage and empties - booze bottles, gas canisters, spent or nearly spent batteries, plastic containers, etc - down with you. Caretakers will otherwise have to carry them down for you. These leavings remain common, unfortunately.

 

3) Please don't leave towels. They don't dry and wind up mildewed. During our last visit we packed out 9 wet, dirty washcloths. This is well intended, but please bring paper towels instead and pack them out afterwards.

 

4) Please leave existing stoves and kitchenware in the lookout.

 

5) Please don't leave any 'emergency food' that isn't in an unbroken factory package - freeze dried, etc. It attracts mice and usually goes unused - and therefore must be packed out by caretakers.

 

6) Please don't cache food in the lookout. One recent food cache was marauded by mice. Caretakers cleaned up the mess.

 

7) Please respect the caretakers' equipment and supplies by staying out of the attic.

 

8) Please wipe down all surfaces and sweep the lookout before departing. How a party leaves a lookout provides a cue for how future parties will leave it. Clean lookouts tend to remain clean. Dirty ones tend to deteriorate.

 

Hidden Lake Peak Lookout Specific Items:

 

8) The Hidden Lake Peak Lookout wood burning stove was removed this year because it was being used as a garbage can. It was also improperly installed and therefore presented a significant fire hazard.

 

10) There is a propane (green Coleman quart canister style) screw on stove burner in the lookout. Please bring your own fuel and remove the empties. There is no longer a white gas stove in the lookout.

 

11) Please remember to bolt the door and replace the door cover properly before leaving.

 

12) Please pee over the side of the cliff, not next to the lookout - when it thaws, it gets very fragrant. Try not to fall of the cliff while doing so.

 

13) Please blue bag your poo. The commode is buried in winter. Big Wall technique works very well here:

a) Split a gallon Ziplock into a rectangle and tack down on the snow. Gently lay your gift on target, then fold into a neat Poorrito. If particularly impressive, Instagram as desired.

b) Slide Poorrito into a 2nd gallon Ziplock, burp, and close.

c) Slide into a 3rd backup gallon Ziplock, burp, and close.

d) Sneak into your buddy's pack for removal.

 

The caretakers have been impressed by how conscientious and considerate most visitors have been. Thanks to all of you who fall into that category.

 

 

 

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I have never been to Mississippi and I hang with my homies, the little feet riders.

 

Good on you for taking care of that cool place.

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The real awesome folks are the one's who've been doing the heavy lifting on these lookouts behind the scenes for many years. We've tiptoed into the effort just this year by cleaning the lookout, removing a few loads of junk and garbage (manky pots, food, towels, nast seat covers (we made new ones out of closed cell foam), broken white gas stove, defunct lantern, etc), donating pots and a propane stove, making minor repairs, and temporarily sealing the remaining wood stove pipe through the ceiling for the winter. The idea was to up the standard of cleanliness - and that standard has largely been maintained by visitors so far.

 

These structures were never built to last as long as they have in such harsh conditions. It's a testament to many decades of hard work by caretakers that they remain standing and in good shape.

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Thanks guys! As my boys get older, I hope to get more involved with the SAC in maintaining the Park Butte LO.

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All visitors are, in fact, caretakers. Simple contributions include hauling left garbage down (typically booze bottles and spent fuel canisters), if you're into the whole pay-it-forward thing, hauling up a full propane canister for future parties.

 

For summer travelers venturing into winter: HLP is a serious trip. It's 5000' of gain, at times through very deep snow, whiteouts are common, a long traverse across a perfect avalanche slope is required, and temps can drop to well below zero F.

 

We encountered one hapless party of slowshoers stumbling around the base of the icy cliffs in the dark in frigid weather- with no winter route information whatsoever. No stove (no way to melt drinking water), and no tent. Temps dropped to a windy 12 F that night. Had we not been there....

 

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We headed to HLP in winter a couple of years ago. Just before we reached the ridge, the visibility shut down to less than ten feet. The spacious snow cave we built to pass the time until clearing became our home for the night, as the visibility didn't improve until early morning. The following morning, we found that we wanted no part of the required traverse on icy trap crust.

 

Bringing other options on that route is a good idea. We had fun because we were prepared.

 

Hope we'll have the chance to make a winter visit to the hut in the future and pay it forward.

 

Thanks again to all involved.

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Thanks for taking the time to do this.

 

What does etiquette call for when more than 1 party arrives at a given lookout? Seems like it could be a situation if multiple parties arrive and nobody brought shelters, thinking they'd be staying in a lookout.

 

 

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Plan on getting to know each other real well.

 

A winter party should always pack stove and shelter - getting to the lookout may not be feasible due to avalanche, whiteout, etc.

 

First come first serve on space, but they are public shelters. Generosity and accomodation is always the right move in bad conditions, or any conditions, really.

 

Personally, if i arrived without a tent to a crowded lookout in OK conditions, i'd sleep outside so as not to impose on those already there.

 

Winter parties should note that the avalanche hazard in the standard trail approach basin to HLP is often high, with large climax avis commonly observed. Consider alternative approaches.

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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About 15 years ago walked in on a woman giving a dude a sponge bath in the Hidden Lake LO. I certainly didn't mean to walk in on them. I knocked on the door with my ice axe, but it wasn't latched and swung open. A round house kick by the woman slammed it back in my face, while she screamed "just a minute!!".

 

One of the funniest things I've seen in the hills. You just never know what you are going to see when you visit a lookout.

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Whoa. That sounds terrifying and funny at the same time. Did you split so you wouldn't need to see them or wait the requested minute?

 

I've slept in a couple lookouts in the summer months, but got sort of turned off by the experience because the mice were really out of control. I like checking them out though, it's cool to think about the history behind them. Glad people have been keeping them up on their own initiative.

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I just looked up "sponge bath" on urban dictionary. I'm not sure if I would visit a lookout again after seeing something like that.

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I meant an honest to goodness, literal sponge bath! Guy standing buck naked in the middle of the lookout, woman (fully clothed) scrubbing him with a washcloth and bowl of warm water. I'm not sure who was more shocked. Sure enough, after a minute the door swung back open and they invited me in like nothing was out of the ordinary. It was almost like I had imagined it.

 

It was a bad/awkward situation. November, darkness descending, snow storm in progress, and no tent on my part. I apologized profusely and sheepishly told them that I was staying the night. They were surprisingly nice about it.

 

So, there is one more reason why it is a good idea to carry a tent up to a lookout!

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Just curious, why are some lookouts left unlocked/accessible during the winter months, while others aren't? Of course, I'm thinking of Suntop which is locked up off season. Is it just a matter of finding a group that is willing to take responsibility and perform scheduled check-ups while the snow is falling--and convincing the USFS bona fides?

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I'm curious to know if the HLP lookout is actually level. I've only seen it looking up from the bottom of the cliff and it looks like it's about ready to tip over and go over the edge. It doesn't look like a place I'd want to be in during a winter storm.

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