Now, the adventurous pair and their teenage son, Bentley, are still moving up in the world—geographically speaking—thanks to their timber frame lookout tower. Perched on a mountain overlooking a tree-studded valley, the 35-foot-high, single-room tower completed last summer offers breathtaking vistas of glassy waters, twinkling lights and, of course, miles of blue sky. “Up in the tower, it’s nothing but view,” says Bick, who began dreaming of the tower and its location long before the first timber was raised.
The Bick family's spectacular timber frame fire tower.
Sky-High DesignTo turn their ideas into a smart design, the couple worked with architect Scott Elden of Montana Creative and Mike Koness, owner of Centennial Timber Frames. “We chose people who would bring something to the party,” explains Bick. Mike says the project was so unusual that he jumped on board without hesitation.
“It turned out to be a pretty sweet little fort,” he says with a laugh. Knowing the tower would need to endure the strain of high winds and large gatherings, Mike and his crew reinforced the 30-inch Douglas fir timbers with steel brackets and X-cross beams and secured them to the rock foundation 20 feet below the surface. To help the structure blend into its natural setting, Bick and Bonnie stained the new timbers gray and covered the deck and walls with reclaimed barn wood. It worked better than they expected. “We had a hiker come by who was adamant that the tower couldn’t be new,” says Bick. “To me, that was the ultimate compliment.”
To cut down on the deck’s maintenance, the Smiths covered it with 100-year-old reclaimed barn wood. The couple also stained the timbers gray. Extra-long overhangs atop the catwalk ensure that family and guests can enjoy the deck, rain or shine.
Sharing the View
Often, the sharing comes in the form of the Smith’s frequent dinner parties. While the 200-square-foot room seats about a dozen guests, it’s the 6-foot-wide wrap-around catwalk and second-story deck that set the stage for entertaining. When not hosting family and friends, the couple says they love to curl up with a book, watch for wildlife (they often spot mountain lions, eagles and even the occasional bear) or just relax with a glass of wine during sunset. “It really is like watching over paradise,” says Bonnie.