Four Sisters in a Lookout
And Two Big Dogs
Story and Photos by Annie Zasadny
Heavy rain hits my coat and backpack and it feels way too cold to be a weekend in mid-August in Idaho. For more than an hour we’ve been trudging up a mountain called Shorty Peak deep in the woods southwest of Porthill, the path ahead of us concealed in fog.
The earth sinks a bit each time I take another step, but the rain amplifies every forest scent around me. It smells nostalgic, like the morning after a camping trip, like warm bonfire smoke stuck in your clothes against the crisp pine air. The two dogs in front of us seem way more motivated to continue than my three sisters and I.
“Remember,” I think, “we’ve all been looking forward to this trip for months. To rent a cozy fire lookout for a weekend will be a blast” [see “Back to Shorty Peak,” IDAHO magazine, May 2016]. I continue to try to pep myself up in this way for the rest of the climb.
After another hour I turn the corner and, with a sigh of relief, proclaim jubilantly, “Guys, we’re hee-ere!” We run to Shorty Peak Lookout and remember our initial excitement over this trek. We’re in the Kaniksu National Forest, which, along with the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe National Forests, falls under the Forest Service’s administrative title of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.