Twin Peaks Lookout
Twin Peaks on the Challis National Forest is the highest active fire lookout in the northwest. Originally established in 1913 the present structure was built in 1964. Ruth Merrill, a Forest Service employee who has spent time at several lookouts was thrilled to be assigned to this scenic location.
"When they called and asked me if I'd take this lookout I wanted to do it because it is the highest manned lookout in Idaho and one of the highest in the nation. There is nothing that is stopping your view. There are no boundaries…you're on top… You got it all."
Merrill used to work on fire crews but quickly realized she'd rather spend her time on mountain tops. While this job's not for everyone, for Ruth it's a perfect fit.
"When I was in high school I had a creative writing teacher who was a lookout, I thought what a great opportunity to spend time like that and to live in the mountains, on top of a mountain. When I'm down in the valley and the storm is coming up or there's a fire I start getting all antsy because I can't see this 360 degree view of everything. And watching the clouds move in and the way the wind skates across the lakes…it takes time to get into the magic and the wonder of this place because your life is so fast-paced and filled with stimulus otherwise. And then you slow down, you get into the rhythm and you start noticing all the beauty."
"It's funny, when people come up here there are two types of people and the one person comes up and they go what do you do all day? And I know they wouldn't make it as a lookout and my answer of course is whatever I want to as long as I'm looking out. And the other type of person is oh, I want this job. How do you get this job? I die and that's the only way you're going to get on a lookout."