Happy Fourth of July! I just returned from the Methow Valley in Eastern Washington after some lovely adventures with my sweetie Darin and friends. Most memorable was yesterday evening, hiking up to the Goat Peak fire lookout to watch a storm and visit with Lightening Bill. The hike is about 2.5 miles and 1500 ft. elevation gain. A storm was predicted and two of our friends, Benj Drummond and Sara Steele are working to document forest fires in the American West for their project “Facing Climate Change.” With hopes for seeing lightning, they invited us to join them in scampering up to the peak.
It was a bit ominous heading up there with thunder rumbling. As we crested onto the ridge, the skies broke open with fat drops of rain, wind, and then hail. We ran for the lookout where Lightening Bill was waiting on the porch to welcome us and we made it safe and sound. Coming inside, Bill informed us that we had just performed the “mountain top hop.” (Read the poem on his website) Outside, the storm picked up and raged- lightning struck close enough to the lookout to shake the doors and windows and hail the size of m&ms pounded down. It was both exhilarating and a bit too close for comfort.
Lightning Bill has manned the Goat Peak lookout for many seasons now, and spends his summers there with his two dogs Thunderdog Shilo and Blaze. When Bill’s not watching for fires, he’s writing poetry and hosting the dozens of visitors who visit him each day. After I began to dry out, I unpacked my sketching supplies and quickly sketched Bill. He shared with me that he also paints- and was interested in more of my work. Upon seeing my business card, he asked if I might design him a new one… perhaps with a small sketch of the lookout. It should be a fun project- he’s also trusting me to use my judgement! I’m grateful I don’t need to send proofs up and down to the mountain and am happy to have an excuse to return. Update: see Lightning Bill’s business card design.
Today the weather was clear and before heading across the mountains to Seattle I had time to hike along the Lost River (on the Monument Trail) with Benj and Sara. We sat by the river and I had time to sketch- for quick work, I enjoy exploring forms with ink and adding definition with watercolor washes.
2 Responses to “Lightning Bill”
I am very sure we were in Bill’s lookout this day when you and your friends ran up in the thunderstorm. We had made it in just before the rain hit and I have photos of the dark clouds amassing. There was myself and my husband and 10 year old daughter and my 2 girlfriends. Hiked out after the hail quit, and boy had it cooled! We found a herd of steer had gotten frightened down to the road and we had to drive slowly behind them to get down the mountain. Awesome to see rushing brown runoff roiling the blue-green Methow River when we got back to our cabin at Lost River. One of my friends on the hike found this post on your blog when she was looking for your artwork and emailed me the link. She was at her cabin this past weekend at Lost River. What a beautiful memory it brought me. My daughter even wrote a story for a class about it a year later. Obviously it impressed her too! Very nice drawings and artwork. Good luck!
Thank you for the note, Kris! Yes, that was an impressive and memorable storm. I took a lot of lessons from that day and am grateful we all made it up and down the peak in one piece! Keep in touch, Maria