Well, I’ve been sucked up into the fire machine. I can expect back to back 14-day assignments (2 days off in between) for the foreseeable future. I’m assigned to the Mad River Complex, but I’m also working on the Humboldt Lightning Complex and the Route Complex. My Forest is short on Hydrologists so I am in high demand and lots of people are happy to see me back.
The fire camp here is pretty impressive. Where two weeks ago there was nothing, now there is a small city of over 1200 people, complete with food, showers, laundry, fuel, and all the supplies needed to fight wildfires. We’re the second largest city in Trinity County!
As you probably know, camping in a sea of tents is not my thing, but because this is my forest, I know lots of stealthy hunter’s camps nearby where I can get some quiet and privacy. I sleep much better alone out in the woods and four months on the PCT has really changed my idea of what passes for an acceptable campsite. I’m camping in style now! I’ve got a chair, a pillow, and a full-size shovel to dig my cathole with. Such luxury!
The PCT has also changed my perception of camp food. Everyone is complaining about the food, but after living off bars, ramen and beef jerky, it seems pretty good to me! At first I was surprised how fast these firefighters eat their food, but I’ve since adopted their technique as well. You see, the portions are large and we eat outside (for me, usually at night around 9 or in the morning around 7), and as fast as I can eat I can’t finish it before it gets cold. I’m not a big fan of cold scrambled eggs or cold mashed potatoes, so I do the best I can to maximize the number of warm bites. I hear the menu is designed to provide around 4,000 calories a day, so since I’m not swinging a tool, I’m hoping to put some weight back on. I lost over ten percent of my body weight on the trail.
Don’t worry about me. My specialties are Supression Repair, road work, and Burned Area Emergency Response, so I tend to be on the colder, blacker parts of the fire and usually don’t even have to wear my line gear. Of course that means I’m still out there working after everyone else has gone home, so it’s going to be a long summer for me. But this will certainly be a summer to remember!