Monday, September 19, 2011

One Hour Callback

This dreaded phrase means only one thing. It is raining (or perhaps snowing) so much that there is little chance the helicopter will be needed for anything. It is marginally better than the two hour, or the (luckily) seldom seen four hour callback. Still, it means the pilot and fuel truck driver will bolt to a more interesting locale, and we will be deprived of their stories for the day.

Half the crew is sick. If they insist on dragging themselves into work, I demand they quarantine themselves where they hopefully will not infect others. The only crewmember who is allergic to bees gets stung by one while in a fit of zealous cleaning. I actually hope to see a bear during my morning run to break up the routine. Back at the base, I complete the helicopter payment paperwork for the day before noon, and, throwing caution to the wind, submit it.

One hour callback demands a slower pace. There will be no racing to the helicopter to see if everyone can be seated, buckled in, with communications established, before the pilot climbs aboard, a procedure that kept us mildly amused throughout the summer. Instead, if the call comes, we will have an hour to eat an extra granola bar, put a warm hat in our packs, and scan the map for likely landing spots.

One hour callback is the counterbalance to the 16 hour days of summer, the mornings we don't have time for a phone call before the helicopter lifts off, the day we went to a neighboring forest for one day and ending up staying for ten. It means the chance to stop and watch the clouds moving in from the park, to see the huckleberry bushes up on the ridge turning color.

More rain is coming. I open the window to let it in.

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