FORT COLLINS COLORADOAN - A fire lookout tower stretching above the Roosevelt National Forest is no longer used to spot fires.
The tower, formerly a place of vigilant scouting, has been a site for quiet contemplation for nearly three decades. High above the Colorado wilderness, the tower provides visitors with a tangible connection to the past and volunteers with a refuge from the world below.
For one such volunteer, Jerry Partin, the job provided an unexpected place to process the sudden loss of his son. Partin’s only son, Kimani, died by suicide just two weeks before Partin's volunteer training class in 2013. Volunteering in the tower has helped him work through his grief.
“I’ve fought a lot of demons up here,” he said.
He was initially drawn to volunteer at the tower by Jack Kerouac’s "The Dharma Bums," a book Partin cracked open when he was 11 years old. Upon reading it, he resolved that someday he would work in a fire tower. He said his current gig isn’t exactly what he envisioned 50 years ago because he spends more time greeting visitors than he does spotting fires, but it’s close enough.
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