"Spotting Forest Fires From The Lookout Tower!" Jacob Lake by mikehanneman
Jacob Lake Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 6 photos
One of my last days of my solo adventure in the great Southwest, I stumbled upon a unique experience.
Cruising on Highway 67, leaving the Grand Canyon's North Rim, I noticed a sign along the road, Jacob Lake Lookout Tower. I had just read an article in Arizona Highways about a writer paying a visit to the individual who had the solitary job of sitting in the top of a lookout tower watching for forest fires. After seeing the sign I thought it might be a cool experience to check in with the person who was on duty. I parked the Jeep and stepped back to take a couple of pictures of the steel tower poking above the trees.
I saw a figure looking at me just below the top of the steel cab. I moved closer to the tower and observed the sign. It said "caution enter at your own risk - U S Forest Service." I proceeded up the 80 foot tower. It didn't take me long and I started to huff and puff. No doubt the elevation and being out of shape! The further I went up to the top I started to wonder if this was a very good idea. I was almost to the top when I heard a voice say, "Come on up and watch your head."
After climbing through the trap door I saw Mark. I didn't know what to expect, hopefully someone who was glad to see me. I asked if it was OK for me to come in and he said, "Absolutely."
A bit stunned, I started to check out the view, not trying to ignore Mark. To the north I could see the red Vermilion Cliffs. Right behind those cliffs were the white cliffs and finally pink cliffs representing Bryce National Park. It was a bit hazy but Mark thought we could see about 80 miles on this day.
To the south (toward the north rim of the Grand Canyon) I could only see trees until the horizon ended.
We discussed his job and responsiblities. The solitude of this position. The beauty. Periodically he would call in the current conditions and listen to any addition information over the radio. He didn't get tired of all my questions about elk, fires, history of the tower, etc.
The wind speed indicator said the wind was only blowing 10 miles per hour but I could feel the tower swaying! Mark said the tower was built to withstand 130 mph winds. I wouldn't want to be there to test that out!
This lookout tower was built in 1934 by the Civillian Conservation Corps. This site is listed on The National Historic Lookout Register. www.firelookout.net was the web address I saw on the sign.
While sometimes reading a book was his only companion during the day, Mark mentioned he averaged about one or two visitors per day. He apprecaited the company of people like myself who were interested in knowing more about the Lookout Tower and it's role in containing forest fires.
I asked him what the eagle feather was hanging down from the ceiling. A Native American had been on the job for about a week when he was jolted by lightning and wanted the seven foot by seven foot area blessed to get rid of the bad spirits. Soon I noticed his wooden stool had an insulator on each of its four legs. When lightning strikes around the tower, Mark sits on the insulated chair with his arms placed on the inside of his body for protection.
It helps he is from a neighboring town so he knows the area well. If Mark spots a fire he can relay the information of what he sees and will plot it out with the help of an insturment called The Osburne Fire Finder.
Before I left I noticed a person driving into the lane. Mark said it was a guy who would use an antenna like device to track and locate the Condors in the area. He didn't come all the way up to the top because the windows interfer with the signal. I didn't know the Condors were up in the Jacob Lake area.
After about an hour I had to make my way down the tower and head to the South Rim of The Grand Canyon. If you want a chance for a unique experience and a heck of a view, stop by and say hello to Mark. Watch your step!
Thanks to Mark for the hospitality and and the great views!! He is one of the forest's best friends.
The tower was blessed and is protected from bad spirits. The eagle's feather is the only visable trace left from the Native American's blessing.
I will put the picture of the chair with insulators on each leg in my other tip!
- Pros:Great view and a nice guy to visit with
- Cons:Possibly dangeous and tough to get up to the top
- In a nutshell:If you have a couple of extra minutes, stop by.
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