An Old Place for New Adventure

Oregon's 5 Mile Lookout: 24 Hours to send you back in time.

There once was a time when forest fires were spotted and managed by someone sitting in a very high place for a very long time in the middle of said forest. They’re called fire lookouts. Or they were. Now they are just called amazing structures some place in woods that you can stay in if the reservation gods look down with favor on you and allow your 6 a.m. reservation request to go through. This was done amidst the hundreds of others trying to reserve a stay for one of the most unique experiences someone who loves the outdoors can ever have. 

The reservation gods favored us and we got to experience two nights perched 40 feet up in the trees in Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon!

Forty feet doesn’t sound that high until you have to use a single pulley system to hoist all your over-packed belongings up from the ground while gripping a fraying rope as tightly as you can for fear of it slipping and slicing off all your fingers with the most incredible rope burn you could imagine. That is probably not even possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be afraid of it.

After everything you packed is yanked up and over the balcony and piled into the 15 x 15 square foot room, it’s now time to build your sanctuary. The lookout we stayed at, Five Mile Lookout, came complete with an old bed, a sink with no running water, a gas burning stove and a wood burning fireplace. If you are looking for a luxury vacation with perks and pampering this is not the place for you. However if you are looking for a chance to experience the middle of nowhere from a treetop view, well then there is no better place to be.

From the pages logged in the guest book, most visitors use the lookout as their basecamp for their mountain biking adventures or hiking expeditions. That was our plan, but once having our little home in the trees set up, it seemed the most appropriate thing to do was to simply enjoy it. Cooking on a tiny kitchenette with only two working burners has never made food taste so good. Mixing experimental cocktails with whatever assortment of liquor and juice made it up from the car, made each flavor have a new association with the surrounding views. And of course the games! We played two consecutive rounds of Candyland, completely by the rules and enjoyed every minute of it.

What anyone else considered “killing time”, we considered as the perfect vacation. Be it the cocktails, the food, the company, or the fact that we had hiked deep into the beautiful Willamette National Forest, this place was our 24-hour version of perfection. When sitting above the trees with a 360-degree view of everything around us, we had come to the realization that for us, the middle of nowhere had become somewhere.

*Story by Portland-based blogger, marketer & adventurer David Banks @anewcivility

Published: August 31, 2016

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