Flag Point Lookout: The Night I Almost Froze To Death
Not so long ago my boyfriend booked a four-night stay at a fire lookout in Oregon, which is an old lookout that stands 60 feet high and measures 14 ft by 14 ft... it also has the most amazing 360 degree view that you have ever seen! He had also recently purchased a used snowmobile, which would be used to get up to the lookout (normally an 11-mile cross-country skiing or snowshoeing trek) with relative ease... or so we thought.
We hit the parking lot around 1pm on a Thursday in February, it was cold out but the sun was shining. We rigged together a sled stacked with all of our gear and beer, tied it to the snowmobile and took off up the hill. Things were going so well until the sled (piled too high) started falling over. About two miles up, we had to stop every 7-8 minutes to set it upright and try to redistribute the weight. It was quite funny at first but after about the 20th time (this is not an exaggeration) it became a lot less funny. By sunset, we were only half-way up and the temperature was dropping. Because the lookout has a wood-burning stove, a bed, and a roof - we didn't have any of our tents, sleeping pads, or fire wood... so spending the night in the snow didn't seem like a great idea.
It was around this point when the snowmobile started to show signs of giving up. It was sputtering dark smoke, using way too much gas and it was getting dark fast! By 8pm we had taken a wrong road (these are all smoothed out forest roads covered in snow, but signage in the dark was difficult to see). We were lost, tired, frustrated, cold, and ready to give up. We had even dropped two large packs on the way to try to get to the lookout without burning up all of our gas. The plan was to go back and get them once we reached the lookout.
Fortunately, my phone still had some service and we had a map and compass. We were back on track in about 30 minutes and reached the lookout around 9:30pm, which means it took nine hours to get 11 miles. We may as well have snowshoed up!
In the lookout there was a stack of wood, warm coals in the fireplace from the last tenants, melted snow on the stove, and a nip of whiskey left behind by kind and generous souls. If only they had known the day we had! The rest of the trip proved to be one of the best I've ever had in the snow. The lookout swayed and creaked in the storms, and the morning sunrises over central Oregon were spellbinding. We enjoyed all of the wine, beer and coffee we brought; cooked delicious meals, played lots of games, went sledding, and took tons of photos.
In the end, I wouldn't change a thing about the adventure. We returned for six-nights a year later, and we were much better prepared for that trip. I think a lookout in the winter should be on everyone's bucket list. It was a great reminder of all the things that can go wrong in a great excursion. The moral of the story is not to be discouraged, but to learn from it and be better prepared the next time. The other moral, of course, is to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. We look back on the hilarity of a dragging sled and have a good chuckle now. And of course.... don't forget the 10 essentials and a nip of whiskey!
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About The Author
Amoris Walker is an Award-winning documentary film maker, voice over artist, and social media strategist. She grew up in a family band called The EarthWalkers; traveling around the USA teaching sustainability and conservation through music, comedy, and art. When she’s not working, you can find Amoris on a mountain, in a kayak, canoodling puppies, drinking wine, or taking photos and shooting videos. Her love for the outdoors comes with the responsibility to help protect it. To learn more about Amoris simply visit her Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.