Despite needing the money that firefighting brings, I embrace the slow season and the opportunities it brings. I hike an 11 mile loop in a place where I usually flounder through snow in June or October. I meet friends and hike to a chalet in the mountains of the national park, where we peer for bears through the brush and watch mountain goats come down from the cliffs. I kayak the local river and some lakes.
|Hiking with friends in the national park|
I'm amazed. This is really FUN. This is what normal people, with weekends off and time for camping trips, get to do ALL OF THE TIME.
It's sure to come to an end soon, as fire season is creeping slowly toward the mountains. One more weekend, maybe. Then I'll be on the road, wearing nomex instead of a cute sundress. This is good too: it's how I get the funds to take trips to places like Nepal and Antarctica. It is my job, after all. But after almost 30 years, firefighting is losing its grip on me, and the call of the mountains and of home is stronger.
I've missed many summers by being on the road, and I'll miss more, but the mountains are patient, and so are my friends. One day I'll be one of those "normal" people, looking at a smoke column up on the hills and wondering what's going on with the fire, who is there, what the plan is. I will feel some sadness, I expect. But then I'll turn and hike on, toward whatever the trail brings.
|Black Lake in Jewel Basin|