Lookout Mountain (Priest Lake)

Priest Lake lookout and cabin.For a quarter of a century Pam Aunan has been watching for fires from Lookout Mountain above Priest Lake. The forest below her is part of a wide swath owned by Idaho's Department of Lands. Pam is the last lookout working for the state of Idaho. The current tower she uses as her base was put up in 1977; it's the third structure at this location. Right next to it is the refurbished original lookout cabin that was built over eighty years ago. This scenic vantage point has a long history of use.

"As far as I know this has been an observation point over a hundred years. When they built the first cabin, that cabin out there, that was in 1929 and from that time it was a lookout point then. That cabin has been refurbished quite a number of times, mostly by the Lookout Association but the people are the Kresek family from Spokane."

Pam Aunan looks for fire in the distance.

"It's just an awesome place. It's a beautiful mountain top, the lake is beautiful, everything is beautiful. This is the great outdoors and I can't help it. I have to have it. It's really important to me. Even the occasional really strong lightning storm which might scare me and maybe kill me is not enough to drive me away from it. It's just something I have to do. It just feels good up here for me. It's my spot. I'm not doing this job because it is the money. I'm doing this job because I love this location and for me being up here is important. And frankly, I think it would be great for everybody to have time to spend on a mountain top. They'd all be richer for it."
— Pam Aunan, long-time Department of Lands lookout