Page 52 - WTP Vol. IX #7
P. 52

 Holt finished taking weather observations, wrote them in the logbook, and noted the time and date: June 29, 1974, 12:30 p.m. Twelve volumes of logbooks spanning three decades of general observa- tions, lonely musings, and ruminations on life and love provided engaging reading. Some real charac- ters inhabited this Forest Service lookout planted 8,267 feet above sea level. He started to nod off in the warmth and lay on the thin muslin-covered mattress to take a nap. The summer in the lookout was clear- ing the cobwebs that had accumulated in his life.
Holt sunk into a serene slumber when a faint, “Hel- loooo. Anybody up there?” floated up to him. At first he thought it was a dream, but discerned it was a person calling from the base of the tower. He heard footsteps ascending, and by the time Holt was up and moving to the door, a young woman wearing a sweaty T-shirt and cutoff jeans had opened the trap door in the catwalk.
“Hi, I’m Morningstar, but you can call me Star.” She put her hand out to shake.
Holt was surprised to see anyone after three weeks, especially eleven miles from the road. Groggy from the nap, he grasped her hand half-heartedly. “Nice to meet you, Star.”
Star lifted an enormous olive-colored Kelty backpack off and set it on the catwalk, where it leaned against the guard rail surrounding the lookout.
“Wow, you are really on some kind of expedition.” Holt struggled to lift it with one hand. “How much does that darn thing weigh?” He looked at Star, thin with straight sandy-blond hair and a slight gap in
her front teeth. She was busy rubbing a red spot on her shoulder where the pack strap tattooed her. A few beads of sweat on her forehead cleared a path through the trail grime, giving her a faint striped look.
“My trek is over. This is the end of the road for me.” Star gave him a broad grin.
Holt half-squinted at her, as if he hadn’t heard her correctly or didn’t grasp the meaning of her words and chalked it up to his sleepiness wearing off. “After that long hike, would you like to come inside?”
Holt handed Star a glass of powdered lemonade.
“Thank you very much. You know, you never told me your name.”
“Sorry, it’s Holt.”
“It’s a nice name.” Star wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and set the glass down on top of the small propane refrigerator. “Bartender, can I get another?”
“I’ll have to mix one up.” “I’m in no hurry.”
With his back towards Star, Holt pulled a jug of cold water from the fridge, poured in the powder, and stirred it with a spoon. There was something about Star and her arrival Holt could not decipher. “So, when are you heading back down the trail, or are you planning to bushwhack into the next valley?” He handed her the glass and sat down.
“Actually, I’m going to bide my time, and enjoy this mountaintop for a while. It’s so beautiful up here.” Star stepped towards the windows, looking away from Holt and out at the expanse of mountains roll- ing away in all directions. “This place is unbelievable. I appreciate you sharing it with me.”
“No problem with the sharing part. Besides, it doesn’t belong to me. The Forest Service owns it.”
“You’re kind of like the owner.”
“I look at it more like I’m a caretaker.”
The Lookout
kEn PoSt

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