In late June I took two trips to the Loup Loup Summit area. I had a mission- to re-take historic panoramic photos from 1934, at Buck Mountain Look-out, for Washington State Department of Natural Resources- the DNR. On the first trip I took too many dead end roads, ran out of time and instead of getting up to Buck Mountain, stopped along the highway west of Loup Loup Summit, for the spectacular displays of lupine. The lupine had come up in the area burned two years earlier in Carlton Complex Fire. On my second trip, I still had trouble navigating, and ended up at a lovely little lake in section 20. I finally got on the right road, but nearly did not make it up to the look-out due to the massive boulders and slabs of exposed rock. I should have taken my gas-guzzling Tundra instead of my moderately gas-thirsty RAV-4.
Buck Mountain Look-out nearly burned up in the Beaver Lake Fire in 2015. The Beaver Lake fire was part of massive Okanogan-Complex Fire, the largest fire in Washington state history. Fortunately firefighters were able to save the historic structure. I would like to hear their stories. Buck Mountain Look-out started as a crow's nest in 1919. A pole tower was built in 1934, and the present structure was built in 1961. It is occasionally manned.
Stand replacement fire- where all of the trees are killed, is the norm in the kind of high elevation forest that is around Buck Mountain. Most of the trees are lodgepole pine, with some Engelmann spruce, and subalpine fir. The big difference in modern fire compared with earlier times is the sheer extent of high intensity fires. Visiting a year after the fire, green-up was starting on the south facing slopes (south aspects). I saw numerous snowshoe hares and mountain bluebirds, and also one deer and one grouse. I look forward to returning in a year or two to re-take some photos. This area on the Loup Loup State Forest, east of Twisp, and west of Okanogan is well worth visiting.