Here's my crew, Wentachee River Initial Attack on the Icicle fire in July. We're one of two twenty person handcrews out of Leavenworth. I'm the third one up on the left side.
Hello... as most of you know, I spent my summer working on a fire crew for the Forest Service out of Leavenworth, in north central Washington. I had an infreakincredible time. I figured I would share some of my pictures and stories with all of you.
The season started out pretty well. We got several lightning fires early on, a couple roadside grass fires, it was really looking to be a good season. In mid-July, a lightning fire started outside of Leavenworth. Our crew got assigned to it. I got to spend the first several days dropping snags, then we spent a couple of days burning out areas between our line and the actual fire edge. That's all kinds of fun.
Staged waiting to burnout. Left to right: Me, Anne Hessburg, Matt Troskey, Colyn Hamon, Jesse Stone.
Sub-Alpine Fir torching out
Self-portrait. I lit that behind me. My saw partner was close by, he described me as "screaming like a banshee".
A couple weeks later, half of my crew went up on a lightning fire up past Lake Wenatchee that a few rappellers had been dropped on. We got helicoptered in and spiked out for 4 days. We got rained on for about a day and a half, then had to wait for a ginormous white pine to finish burning out at the base and fall over. It had all of the ingredients to be a terrible experience, but it was absolutely wonderful.
My friend Anne on the helicopter. Look really closely in her sunglasses, and you can see me taking the picture.
Here we are unloading from the helicopter. We then had to cut a pathway up to the fire through super thick vine maple, and being one of the two sawyers I got my ass kicked. We finally made it to the fire after dark. On a side note, 2 days after we flew out from the fire, that helicopter crashed and the pilot died.
This is the view looking down the White River from the fire.
Here's a sunset, looking up the White River.
We had a couple more fires, then got a call to help the state Department of Natural Resources with a fire they had near the Mission Ridge ski area. We managed to get into the fire around 6:00 in the evening, after a full day's work. We ate dinner, I pounded a Red Bull, and went to work improving the control line started around the fire. Since my saw partner was already exhausted, I got to run the saw. We continued working until the fire started spotting and torching across the line, snags started falling, and with it being dark, we were unable to see them falling until it would be too late. So, around 11:00, we pulled back, hunkered, ate, and started bedding down. Luck would have it that I had taken my space blanket out of my line pack a day earlier when I slept in somebody's back yard, (a kinda funny story involving sprinklers coming on at 2:30 in the morning and me running to my car naked) so the only time I needed it all year, I didn't have it. Luckily, my friend Anne shared hers with me, and I didn't freeze.
This is me and my saw partner bucking a snag that fell across the line. You have to look pretty closely, but the bluish C shape in the upper left hand corner is my headlamp. I bucked the log all the way up to where I had flames under my saw. I thought my face was going to melt off. The heat from the base of the snag caused a couple of trees to torch out while I was in there, and I got an ember shower for a couple minutes. It is moments like these that I fight fire for.
A couple days later, we had another fire that we were out on almost all night again, and that turned out to be my last fire for the year. All in all, it was an incredible season. I absolutely loved the people on my crew, we had good assignments, and I got to run a chainsaw almost every day. The friends I made and the skills and knowledge I gained are irreplaceable. What does next year hold? No idea. I'm trying to get onto a hotshot crew, but I would be content to return to Leavenworth. Time will tell...
Me and my fire saw, Daniqua, on a slash pile burn that burned way too well, so we had to work to control it.