Friday, July 21, 2017

Back in a Fire Lookout!

For the previous four summers, I have worked with Alberta Forestry in a variety of capacities, including air tanker base, fire camp manager, detection aid, and lookout observer.  I spent time at Fort McMurray for the big fire last spring, as well as lookout time in the Lac la Biche, Slave Lake, Peace River, and Grand Prairie areas.  But all this employment was cutting into my free time and I was getting a bit bored being in the fire camp most of the time, so I decided to turn down their recall offer this spring.  I did tell them that I would be willing to help out if they were really short-handed, but was pretty sure my time with them was done.  So I was quite surprised to arrive home after my latest road trip and within 24 hrs, get a call requesting me to show up for work on Monday morning!

Since I hadn’t yet planned my next trip, I agreed to go for a week.  By Monday morning, I was once again a Forestry employee and Hailey and I were catching a ride up to a scenic mountain-top lookout.  This one is road accessible most of the year, so Hailey did not increase her helicopter count past 8.

Lots of smoke coming into the area from the big fires in BC, so visibility is somewhat reduced.  Of course, sometimes the clouds are right down on the deck (literally), and you can’t see more than 50 feet.

IMG_8270 IMG_8353

Those mornings, once the weather readings are out of the way, its time to pour another coffee, kick back and read another chapter or two.



We’ve worked at this lookout a couple of times in the past, so Hailey has some friends that come by to say hello.



It’s a popular spot for communications towers too.  There are at least a half dozen other installations to share the mountain top.



On nice days, with high hazard there is a lot of time spent enjoying the scenery while watching for smoke.


Between naps, Hailey comes out for a look as well.


The mountain top is a popular destination for both ATV’s and hikers.


Sometimes, you are pressed into public relations service as a lookout tour guide.



Downtown Nordegg, as viewed with telephoto from the lookout.IMG_3005

One of the neighbouring lookouts is on the mountain in the centre of the photo below.IMG_3004IMG_3003IMG_2987IMG_2986

Now that I am officially an ‘employee’ again, I may have other opportunities to travel around the province if there are other vacancies.  If not, Hailey and I will be happy to enjoy the time traveling on our own dime!


  1. You are one lucky guy getting to hang out enjoying the beauty and quiet, Earth has to offer. Nice kitty goes with the flow.

  2. As well as there may be some interesting and exciting moments with the job I'm thinking the overall routine of the job may get a little boring at times with each day kind of melting seamlessly into the previous day. Other than that of course it may offer a nice temporary break in between your other summer events. Sure beats sitting around at home doing nothing for sure.