Monday, July 28, 2014

A normal person summer

Days off.  Shorts and flip flops.  Hiking on trails instead of on snow.  Seeing friends I don't normally glimpse between June and September.  What is this?! Is this what normal people who don't fight fire get to do?

I don't remember a summer like this since, oh, maybe 1987.

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


  1. Glad you've been able to enjoy the summer like a "normal" person. Surprised you didn't get called to fight the fires here in Oregon and Washington. We've sure had an early fire season this year.

  2. It's been busy over your way, but it's been a slow season overall, and lots of resources available.

  3. Beautiful.....glad you are having a "normal summer" and obviously are enjoying it and taking full advantage of the time. After almost 30 years, perhaps it's time to have at least one!

  4. You live an amazing life, either way. I am in awe.

    1. Thanks! Sometimes it just seems pretty normal!

  5. So beautiful. Thirty years in firefighting? That is very impressive! I'm glad you got to enjoy some of your summer before you're needed once again:-) Cheers!


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