Some of us were chatting yesterday about people who live here but have never been to some of the spectacular sites that tourists from all over the world pay lots of money to come see. Sometimes we get days off in the summer, or can escape after work to the national park just a few miles away, but it's harder for some people.
K. came to us from a hotshot crew. During the summer, these firefighters must dispatch to fires within 2 hours of being called, even if they are on days off. They have to stay in cell service all the time, or risk missing the assignment, which is not looked upon favorably. Most of the trails and mountains around here are in areas outside of cell service.
He listened wistfully to our conversation. "You're a prisoner in paradise," he declared.
And it's kind of true. Flying over in the helicopter, or driving down the road en route to a fire, we see happy vacationers rafting, climbing, kayaking, and heading out on the trails. Although we usually get one or two days off after 14 days of work, sometimes we are just too tired to muster up the energy to do much of anything, and neglected house and yard chores can take precedence. Or, unluckily, it rains. We usually try, though, or else summer passes us by.
Most people compensate. They are backcountry skiers, or they travel during the winter. We snowshoe into the popular summer places and march up trails in the spring as far as we can go until stopped by snow or avalanche danger.
Usually the guys who spray noxious weeds stop by our base at the end of the day. When asked what they did that day, one of them will invariably say, "Doing the people's work."
In the end, although we might be prisoners in paradise, we know we are providing a needed service. And we get to sleep on a nameless ridge in the middle of the wilderness with a million stars overhead, putting out a small fire with a couple friends. We get to fly over places that nobody gets to see. That's what we will remember after the summer is over.
|My summer view of life|