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Refresher Training 2011

At the beginning of each fire season, as jumpers come drifting in from their winter lives as surfers, fisherman, international travelers, slum lords, hog splitters (seriously, one of my buddies works at a meat packing plant, sawing pigs in half), and mostly ski bums, they have to be “refreshed”.  Refresher training consists of  two weeks of remembering how to do our job.  One week is dedicated to reviewing parachuting, and the other to reviewing firefighting.  With refresher training comes a mix of emotions.  Scanning the crowd on that first morning meeting of the week and you will see faces that express sadness that winter vacation is over, joy that friends are united again, excitement that a new fire season is about to begin,  and frustration knowing the next two weeks will be filled with critique and scrutiny of your parachuting performance.  Overall it’s just about knocking the dust off and getting your head back into the game.

Here are some photos from our parachuting refresher:

Red, White, and Blue chutes and Orange chute are DC-7’s made by Airborne Systems: http://www.airborne-sys.com/

Blue and Yellow chutes are CR-360’s made by Performance Design: http://www.performancedesigns.com/

Two DC-7 parachutes

The Legend coming in

CR-360 parachutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good landing

Ladies, his name is Evan Adsit

The Twin Otter kicking cargo

Cargo coming down on a "bucket" chute

Traditional cargo chute

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The Blog is Back

For those who have been faithfully following my blog (haha, inside joke- I know from the stats that nobody is following), I want to apologize for the year long- wait, two year long, sabbatical I’ve taken from writing.  It’s hard to say why I stopped… The best I can do to try to explain is that enough time had went by that I had a lot to catch up on and was feeling a little overwhelmed by the task of updating.  As time went on the project of “catching up” kept building and building.  Soon I convinced myself that it was such a daunting task that I would just neglect the whole dang thing.  Anyway, I’ve recently made some new goals in my life and have decided to put more effort into the things that I am passionate about- and writing is one of those things.  I didn’t even know where to start since I’m so out of date so I decided to pick up at the beginning of the 2011 fire season.  I may fill in 2010 at some point later but I’m having computer issues and don’t have access to most of my photos from last year anyway.  So, here we go.

 

 

Colorado River

Looking back on my posts this summer I noticed that I failed to post about one of the best days of the summer.  While in Grand Junction I had a mandatory day off (they make us take a day off every 21 days).  Wally, another jumper happened to have the day off as well.  We got a hold of ex Boise smokejumper Ryan Jordan who lives in GJ now and we all three went to hang out on the Colorado river in Ryan’s jet boat.  We grabbed a case of Tecate and some fishing rods and hit the water.  Despite knowing that I’d be hanging out all day on the water in 100 degree weather, I neglected to apply sunscreen so I ended up with a brutal sunburn but aside from that it was a great day off.

Out on the river

Out on the river

hiking around on the shore

hiking around on the shore

Found an old holding pen

Found an old holding pen

thirsty catfish

thirsty catfish

parked in a cove for some fishing and swimming

parked in a cove for some fishing and swimming

found some good cliffs to jump from

found some good cliffs to jump from

Ryan J getting some hangtime

Ryan J getting some hangtime

Bruin Point fire

Finally!  A fire call!  The call came in about 4pm on Thursday.  For a few days it had been pretty quiet around here and there wasn’t any lightning forecast for the day so it came as a surprise.   The fire was near Price, UT.  As it turned out it was a lightning strike from several days prior, it just had been smoldering around until some wind came up and started to fan the flames.  This fire was pretty straight forward… we jumped it, put line around it and mopped up until late that night.  The next day we mopped up some more with the help of a few helicopter drops, and had the thing cold by 4pm, 24hrs after we got the call, now that’s efficient firefighting.  That’s the reason that we can justify our program, our job.  Had they taken extra time to have crews of people walk up to the fire from the nearest road, the fire could have been too large to contain right away and may have burned down into the community below.  The most critical thing is getting to the fire as quickly as possible and attack it while it is as small as possible.  When the fire was out we got a helicopter ride to the Price airport and waited for our plane to come pick us up and fly us back to Spanish Fork.  Easy as that.

flying to the fire

Perfect fire!  Small but not too small, good jump spot and beautiful scenery!

Perfect fire! Small but not too small, good jump spot and beautiful scenery!

Once we hit the ground we were very busy.  We had to assemble our tools and hustle to cut saw line, dig fire line and try to contain the fire quickly because the wind was blowing and causing the fire to really take off.  After several hours we were able to get the flames knocked down and the fire contained but unfortunately in the chaos I didn’t get the opportunity to take any photos.  So, the ones I got were from the next day during the “mop-up” phase.  They aren’t as glorious as pics with fire in them but it gives you an idea of what it was like…

The fire slowed its progress once it hit the aspen

The fire slowed it's progress once it hit the aspen

It ended being about 2.5 acres

It ended being about 2.5 acres

Helicopter bucket drop- helps out a lot getting 50 gallons at a time

Helicopter bucket drop- helps out a lot getting 50 gallons at a time

Practice Jump 8/27

Still no fires around here during the last week but lightning is expected the first part of next week- lets just hope there isn’t a bunch of rain with it!  Anyway, we had another practice jump this morning.  We are keeping our skills fine tuned for our next fire jump.  This is critical since most of our injuries stem from landing in an area in which was not intended- for example into the trees, a rock slide, a cliff, onto the backing course of an Asian driving school, or any other potentially lethal areas that typically surround an intended “jump spot” out in the wilderness.  Parachute accuracy is an important skill for any smokejumper who intends to do the job for very long.  A jump spot may be a patch of grass or short brush as small as a volleyball court and surrounded in hazards that will nearly guarantee you a medical evacuation if hit.  A volleyball court may seem large while you’re standing in it, but from 3000 feet it looks like a putting green at the mini-golf course, and maneuvering down into it while negotiating gusty winds can be as challenging as lassoing a greased midget riding a coked up show pony.  That’s why we like to keep or skills sharp by getting a jump every week or two regardless of how slow the fire season is at the time.

Touchdown

Touchdown

Flinders boys got to see their ol man jump

Flinders' boys got to see their ol' man jump

Brollier executing yet another perfect jump

Brollier enjoying his morning

Different types of canopies: DC-3 in red made by Airborne Systems , white and blue and the CR-360 in blue and yellow made by Performance Designs, inc.

Fish ON!

Since I’m currently rotting away in Spanish Fork like an old mayonnaise sandwich in the Utah sun, and haven’t jumped a fire in half a fort night.  I don’t have much to post about.  I’ve decided to do some posting anyway- on some events that happened in the past.  That way I can keep throwing posts up on a regular basis.  Soooo… Fly fishing trip is the event for the day.

Chris and I made a last minute trip to his “super secret” fishing spot to which he brings NO ONE!  I was really excited and honored to be let in on his coveted fishing area but once we got there (about 5 hours from Boise), I found out that despite it’s extreme remoteness it was in fact one of my favorite places too since it was near where I grew up!  So we both had great past memories of the place, which made it that much more amazing.  Getting to the fish meant driving the last hour on a dirt road that made a Bolivian Jeep trail look like a freeway- then a four mile hike to top it off.  We showed up to camp in the dark and celebrated with a few pulls of whiskey then pitched our tents and hit the hay, looking to get up at first light.

The next two days were full of amazing weather and pretty good fishing.  We hooked several nice steelhead and got some good sunburns- Perfect weekend!

Cast away!

Cast away!

Chris showing his fightin skills

Chris showing his fightin' skills

Nice work Dude!

Nice work Dude!

Hooked up!

Hooked up!

Dont horse it!

Don't horse it!

Those little guys sure can put up a fight!

Those little guys sure can put up a fight!

Go tell your big brother to come bite my line next!

Go tell your big brother to come bite my line next!

Fish on!

Fish on!

Had to run a couple hundred yards trying to keep below him!

Had to run a couple hundred yards trying to keep below him!

Huffin and Puffin but so so happy!  Love It

Huffin' and Puffin' but happy! Love It

Swim free little buddy

Swim free little buddy

Nothing like just you and the river...

Nothing like just you and the river...

Why didn’t my professor just give us this and let us go home for the rest of the day?!

Politics Explained

FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all of the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and put them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs as the regulations say you need.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them and sells you the milk.

PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

CAMBODIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both of them and shoots you.

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.

PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

PURE ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to take the cows and kill you.

LIBERTARIAN/ANARCHO-CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.