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Posts Tagged ‘firefighting’

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

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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.

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We did a practice jump yesterday up Spanish Fork canyon.  Beautiful day, beautiful jump…. it was a good reminder of why I do this job!

The load

The load

enjoying the view

enjoying the view

coming in on final approach

coming in on final approach

stacking them right in

stacking them right in

WOMBAT!

WOMBAT!

Dax

Dax

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It’s been way too long since I’ve gotten on here and updated… sorry Andy and Emily- since I’m pretty sure you two are the only people who even look at my blog.  But on that note, if ANYONE happens to stop by, whether I know you or not, PLEASE PLEASE just drop a line- a word even!  Just let me know that there are people who read this occasionally.  It is a lot of motivation to keep updating this just knowing that there is even one more person who looks at it!!  Pretty Please…..

Ok, so.  I have been having anxiety thinking about all the stuff I need to catch up on and I know that by the time I get to the present events, they will be in the past and I’ll really have a hard time catching up.  I decided to just do a quick re-cap of stuff just to get up to speed.  Sorry for not elaborating on any one event but that’s just going to have to do.  So here it is ESPN highlight style:

ALASKA- LAST 3 WEEKS:

Fought a couple more fires, had some good times, got to see some AMAZING country!

en route to fire

en route to fire

Flying low to kick out some cargo out to the guys on the ground who just jumped

Flying low to kick out some cargo out to the guys on the ground who just jumped

Home away from home

Home away from home

Warm Day!

Warm Day!

Cold Day.... and REALLY windy

Cold Day.... and REALLY windy

Thatd be in the AM...

That'd be in the AM... about ready to tent up for the night.

Middle of the night, dirty, cold, tired, and absolutely loving it!

Middle of the night, dirty, cold, tired, and absolutely loving it!

The game its self is easy... put lots of money in the middle of a circle of people, flip a quarter.  If its tails youre out, if its heads your still in.  Last one in takes cash.  Thats about $6,400.00

The game its self is easy... put lots of money in the middle of a circle of people, flip a quarter. If it's tails you're out, if it's heads your still in. Last one in takes cash. That one ended up being about $6,400.00

The end of Mustache May (which, I must admit, bled over into June a bit..)  Right before shaving it :(

The end of Mustache May (which, I must admit, bled over into June a bit..) Right before shaving it 😦

WEEKEND OFF IN BOISE:

Sometime in late June I had a weekend off…  Saturday I rode my motorcycle to Wieser, ID. for the National Fiddle Championships and Music Fest!  I didn’t actually see any of the actual competition part of the festival but I did spend my day watching live music on the stage outside of the comp area.  Most of the fiddle competitors had their bands in tow and played for everyone’s enjoyment.  The weather was amazing- it was a great day.  Highlighting the day was a band called “Milk Drive”.  They were amazing… I recommend them to anyone who is into bluegrass.  The four of them are all in their twenties and exploding with talent.  Somewhat “Nickel Creek”ish with a little more edge.  Fantastic.

Sunday I was invited by my good buddy Chris to go rafting on the North Fork of the Payette.  Chris, being a bartender, fly fishing guide, and all around fun lover was guaranteeing an amazing time- I was in from the words “hey do you want to…”  Well, it proved to be a great time of course.  All around a great weekend- just the kind you want when you only get one once a month.

Milk Drive

Milk Drive

Gearing up for a day on the Payette

Gearing up for a day on the Payette

Part of the crew, about to shove off

Part of the crew, about to shove off

On the water, woohoo

On the water, woohoo

Chris, our skipper and party official

Chris, our skipper and party official

celebrating the triumph over another rapid

celebrating the triumph over another rapid

Just enjoying the summer the way it should be enjoyed!

Just enjoying the summer the way it should be enjoyed!

GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO:

My first trip into the Great Basin was spent mostly in GJ, although I was in Utah and Nevada as well for short stints.  Overall great- great fires, great country, great times.  I was previously not much of a desert fan but I haven’t spent much time there either, or in the right areas.  Colorado and Utah especially have gorgeous areas- most of them are National Parks and I hope to tour some of them on my motorcycle late this fall if everything pans out.  Anyway, despite 100 degree plus temps, lack of trees, and the fact that every plant, animal, and insect is trying to poke, bite and sting you, the desert is quite nice.  Quite nice during sunrise and sunset anyway.

Flying over Salt Lake

Flying over Salt Lake

Our aerial battalion

Our aerial battalion

Bad ass air tanker- Book Cliffs in the background

Bad ass air tanker- Book Cliffs in the background

snakes on a plane

snakes on a plane

Red rock country

scenes from a loft

Red rock country

Red rock country

Ready, in the door, waiting for the slap on the shoulder

Ready, in the door, waiting for the slap on the shoulder

View from my first fire in Colorado

View from my first fire in Colorado

Whooped her again

Whooped her again

The desert at its best

The desert at it's best

Right before starting a 120 pound packout... that was the last time I smiled that day

Right before starting a 120 pound packout... that was the last time I smiled that day

BRAUN BROTHER RUNION:

For the second year in a row I took time off of work in the middle of what is typically the busiest time of the season.  The reason?  Only the best frickin’ three day concert in the frickin’ world, that’s why!  Challis Idaho:

Amazing scenery

Amazing scenery

So, as you can see, Challis is a great destination on its own- no imagine the chance to spend three days watching your all-time favorite bands along with only a few hundred other “friends”.  Well my friends, that is the Braun Brother Reunion show.

As luck would have it four of the bands- Ray Wylie Hubbard, Micky and the Motorcars, Randy Rogers, and Cross Canadian Ragweed were playing in Boise on Wednesday night, so I of course saw them all.  The next day we drove the 4 and a half hours to Challis and got there just in time to see Stoney LaRue do a jaw-dropping solo acoustic set of songs requested by the crowd of maybe oh, 80 people.  Unbelievable comes to mind.  In the middle of his set we were visited by yet another (same as last year) five minute hailstorm that pelted everyone with grape-sized hail.  It was amazing- like the heavens opened up with Stoney’s angelic tunes…. Ok, so maybe not, but it was effin’ rad anyway.

It was like having one of your very favorite musicians come over and play in your living room.

It was like having one of your very favorite musician's come over and play in your living room.

Next was Ray Wylie Hubbard.  This guy is a true Godfather of the Texas brand county rock that is, in my opinion, the best music on earth.  On stage with him was his 15 year old son playing lead guitar.  This kid was a prodigy.  Some of the best guitar I’ve heard came from a kid who was probably learning geometry in school… unbelievable.

Ray Wylie and his boy

Ray Wylie and his boy

Well, I could go on forever, in great detail about the amazing weekend and all that happened but I’m keeping it short remember… Let’s just say it was 72 hours of beer, thrift store shopping sprees, kick ass music, great friends, and more beer.  Use your imagination…

One of the coolest tats Ive ever seen!

One of the coolest tats I've ever seen!

The best find of the weekend!  Behind the whiskey is says FLY WILD and on the back is a flying V of ducks.

The best find of the weekend! Behind the whiskey is says "FLY WILD" and on the back is a flying "V" of ducks.

Breakfast cocktails and a rousing game of horshoes to start the day off...

Breakfast cocktails and a rousing game of horseshoes to start the day off...

getting wild in three, two,......

getting wild in three, two,......

Livin it up

Livin' it up

Smock gettin into it!

Smock gettin' into it!

Taking a little beer break in between sets

Taking a little beer break in between sets

Meet Cody, he and his girlfriend are the coolest.  We hung out all weekend and luckily he lives part time in the Boise area so we can party again.  GREAT PEOPLE!!!

Meet Cody, he and his girlfriend are the coolest. We hung out all weekend and luckily he lives part time in the Boise area so we can party again. GREAT PEOPLE!!!

Reckless Kelly going off!

Reckless Kelly going off!

Cody Canada from Cross Canadian Ragweed and Smock partying together... practically.

Cody Canada from Cross Canadian Ragweed and Smock partying together... practically.

Well, I’m sad it’s over but I WILL be back next year, you can bet you ass on that.

Well, that about wraps it all up… that’s been my life for the last 2 months.  Hopefully it wasn’t too abridged… who am kidding, any more detail and you would have X’d out of here long ago, haha.

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So, we had a day off yesterday (Sunday) and went to Chena hot springs.  It took nearly an hour to get there but was well worth it.  Soaking in the hot water, relaxing and enjoying the scenery was a nice contrast to the rigorous long days of training filled with stress, anxiety and fear (fear of being “washed” from the training program mostly… the actual jumping is mostly just adrenalin filled fun with a touch of fear mixed in for good measure).  The spots have been getting tighter and we have begun jumping two people per “stick”, which means someone else leaves the plane with you at virtually the same time so you have to contend with them in the same airspace as you.  It makes things much more complicated once you not only have to worry about the ground coming at you and having to find a good landing place in the midst of all the trees but you also have to make sure that you don’t have a mid-air collision with your buddy.  The height in which a mid-air occurs usually determines whether it is career ending or life ending… usually one or the other.  Other than that the only thing excited going on around the jump base is that it is “Mustache May!”

Oh yeah, trucker stash baby!

Oh yeah, trucker stash baby!

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