Ascent of Lone Mountain on 2012-06-02

Climber: Craig Willis

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, June 2, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Lone Mountain
    Elevation:1178 ft / 359 m

Ascent Trip Report

My wife and I drove in from Highway 101, then south along BIA-15 until turning right onto what we believed to be Lone Mountain Road (SE of the peak). BIA-15 is a very good road, but my wife (who is not used to driving logging roads, forest roads, BIA roads, etc.) was uncomfortable having her car go very far on Lone Mountain Road. This forced me to head up the road on foot (while she waited in the car).

Using a satellite image as a reference, I followed what appeared to be the road leading up the mountain. It was a road in good condition. I followed the road as it continued up, winding around the southern slopes. This road eventually ended, forcing a final uphill ascent to the summit through steep brushy terrain and/or logging debris (pick your poison).

My reason for visiting this peak was to see the metal fire lookout tower located on its summit. Unfortunately, I had a strong hunch prior to arriving that the tower was no longer present, as it could no longer be seen from locations away from the peak and the road-end had multiple pieces of metal and wooden debris (from a tower).

I am saddened to report that the Lone Mountain Lookout Tower, located west of Lake Quinault on the Quinault Indian Reservation in Washington, is officially gone. But not just gone... destroyed. I believe it to be deliberately, too.

There was a cut-out slope leading approximately 150' down (just an estimate... I will check my GPS later) from the summit area to the top of Lone Mountain Road directly below the summit. The cut-out slope was not just filled with logging debris, but also many sections of the metal lookout tower. Each metal debris was contorted and twisted as if it were tin-foil. Broken wooden planks were found at the bottom of the cut-out swath of land... probably either from the floor or roof of the original tower cabin.

I suppose it is possible that the lookout tower collapsed during one of western Washington's nasty Winter storms, but the fact that the tower was in so many pieces on the slope and on the road made me believe that the Quinault Indian Reservation intentionally tore it apart and cut-out the forested slope to allow that process to happen. They then left many of the smaller scrap pieces of the tower behind. I do not know when the lookout tower was completely torn-up and dismantled, but it is sad all the same. The road leading up most of the mountain was in fairly decent shape, so it may have been a fairly recent occurrence (i.e. within the past 5-10 years).

One less lookout tower for the world to enjoy.

Coincidentally, today I found the following local newspaper article, posted on May 10, 2012. It is one of those "this day in history" types of articles:

"75 years ago, May 10, 1937

Carrying 10 tons of sand, gravel, concrete and steel up a mountain peak by pack horses for construction of a steel lookout tower is the feat accomplished by R.E. Voorhies. The job took 12 days of patience and hard work.

Pack horses were the only possible means of carrying the material up the steep trail to Lone mountain where soon will rise an 80 foot tower. When completed the station will command a clear vision over the entire Quinault area. Lone Mountain is about five miles west of the lower end of Lake Quinault and about a mile south of the Olympic highway."

POST-HIKE UPDATE: I found out from a Quinault worker that the lookout tower was torn down and sold for scrap metal. According to the worker, the tribe barely broke even on the venture.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:728 ft / 221 m
    Total Elevation Loss:728 ft / 221 m
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Breezy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:728 ft / 221 m
    Route:Lone Mountain Road & Bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:450 ft / 137 m
    Time:0 Days 0 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:728 ft / 221 m
    Route:Bushwhack & Lone Mountain Road
    End Trailhead:450 ft / 137 m
    Time:0 Days 0 Hours 30 Minutes

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