The sun came through the windows on the south side, now free of their cloak of ice from the prior day. It was siesta time. The blissful warmth upon my dark blue capilene contrasted stongly with the morning’s hard frost. It was warm enough without the bag. This is what I came for, precious sun, and the promise of stars.
Our journey began on Halloween at dawn in a dark forest with a cool drizzle consolidating into fat drops all around.
The TH was at 1300’; by 3500’ we were ascending in gentle snow sifting through old-growth cedar and doug fir.
The trunks were effortlessly 5 feet in diameter, rising straight out of the thick forest floor like Jack’s fanciful beanstalk.
It was me & Bodhran for this trip, catching a narrow window of eventual high pressure to ensure the shutters were in place for the winter.
By 5700’ the snow had thickened to about 12 inches, just enough for a festive aire.
The structure was coated in ice and rime with evidence of spindrift inside.
Pools of frozen water were on the sills and floor on the windward side. Shuttering would prevent that through winter. Setting up was easy: the butane stove was set to the task of rendering powdery snow into water; food was eaten and warm clothing layered on to ward off the gathering chill; feathery bags for both the hound and I were pulled and allowed to regain their bulk.
Warm sleep was anticipated.
The sky did not clear until sometime between 3 and 6:30a; I got up a few times in the night hoping for star photos but found only mollifying fog. The low was 18 degrees; spilled water quickly froze. With frozen windows, the LO looked more like an ice cube on stilts.
I delighted in seeing Pine Grosbeaks in the surrounding firs; their cheery chatter brightening an otherwise bird-less landscape.
Sunrise was 8 o-clock sharp. I shoveled the stairs with the hope that the sun would thaw the ice layer, but it was still a bit slippery when carrying the shutters up from their storage at the base of the tower.
The inside warmed to 50 degrees melting and drying the interior.
Melting snow on the flat roof revealed a couple of leaks in the ceiling; I marked the spots with a Sharpie for future repairs; Dan (the caretaker) and the Forest Service have been struggling with elusive leaks for years now. I did little work on the structure other than cleaning and hauling out some used wax and garbage.
Dan’s summer paint work looked great.
The second night turned blustery with cirrus buggering the stars. I still managed a couple more time-lapse sequences of dawn and sunrise.
The tower shook and shimmied; water in the pot sloshed at the sides with some of the largest gusts.
Bodhran retreated from the catwalk; his fur creased in the wrong direction by the wind.
My final act was to carefully place and secure the 26 ¾-inch plywood panels over the windows, glad to see the LO through another winter.
-------------- "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
Thanks everyone for the generous commentary, especially the feedback about the video; that is where most of the work goes.
I am still getting the hang of time-lapse sequences and exposures. Perhaps of interest: you can see my headlamp and the door of the LO open in the dawn tower time-lapse. I had gotten up 90 minutes before first light intending to get a good long sequence, but an ill timed trip to the privy and technical issues with a cold camera shortened the series. Anyway, I learned a lot on this trip.
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