We are several weeks into the program so far; we have all been through most of the trainings and certifications now. We are all certified on chainsaws and have been working hard on the thinning unit honing in our skills with the saw. Last week we went to Fire School, which was a great learning experience. We were given courses on introduction to fire and listened to stories from experienced personnel who have been in the heat of it, no pun intended. So far, my favorite part of the program is working a chainsaw. I enjoy the challenge of coming into a section of limb locked trees or trees leaning into the road and working out how to bring the tree down exactly where I want and picking apart how to make that happen.
Living here has been such a great escape from back in the city. I wake up to amazing sunrises then we go physically train (PT) and will scare up elk as they run across the dirt road when we pass on by. After a nice hard run or circuit course, we pack up the trucks and head out to the unit to start cutting. Our crew boss Matt tells us that being able to get a good hard PT and to cut all day will help prepare us for the long grueling days on fire. The crew has all been working together great. We haven’t had any real issues and are helping each other better ourselves in many ways, whether its building our strength and endurance with our PT or helping with problem trees if someone is unsure of how to go about bringing it down.
During my days off, I have been exploring the area, finding areas of the forest where I don’t see another vehicle the whole day. It is truly a wilderness out here. I have combed along riverbanks, hiked up to the tops of canyons, and wandered along game trails for miles. I have found antler sheds, turkey feathers, and even found a couple pounds of Morel mushrooms while wandering. I also have had a few trail cameras out there to see what kind of wildlife is in the area and I haven’t been disappointed. Below is one of the first videos I got on camera.
I fully recommend anyone looking for a way into the forest service or into wildfire to join in this program. I can tell you now, I already am planning to do this for a very long time.