Friday, August 20, 2004

Squaw Flat Fire

I was enjoying a peaceful afternoon at BF's house watching the Olympics (the real sports) and doing some other girlfriend work. The phone was ringing non-stop and I don't ever answer it unless the answer machine screams my name. The answer machine finally called my name at about 1200pm. The voice on the other end was Boss Lady. There would only be one reason may be two reasons why she was calling. One-someone was sick and could I cover or two-a fire call out. It would be the latter.

I really didn't want to go, but when she said the words that BF was going, I thought it might be fun. Boy, was I mistaken. Anyway, we gathered gear, food, and headed down the road in the Big Dodge. We stopped at the rock art panel to use the restroom and I noticed steam coming from under the hood. This can't be good. The temp gauge read normal so we drove on. Drove on for about a mile when the Check Gauges and temp shot into the red. We pulled over, threw up the hood, and saw the anti-freeze everywhere. We did have someone stop and ask if we needed help, but we said we were fine and had a radio to call if we needed to. We decided to move on, but it kept jumping into the red so finally we pulled over and gave up. We called the Green Hornet and asked for a pickup. Gear was loaded into another employee's vehicle who passed us and then we were picked up by Green Hornet. The Dodge would be towed back to town. In the last month, our protection staff has had nothing but vehicle trouble.

We arrived at the station and were debriefed about the fire. Like any good government employee we wanted to get out to the fire and size it up. Mainly the reason was because if we got out there and touched foot in the fire then we would be getting hazard pay. I was already sitting on OT because it was my day off. 11.5 hours of OT isn't bad. We hiked out to the fire. I was told it was 1/2 mile hike. And then we hiked the 3 miles out there. I can't complain about the hike too much as it was a beautiful hike.

Except when the rain started coming down. Remember when I said I was a little weird about water issues. Well lets just say I couldn't be a high ranking official in the military with secret stuff because all the captors would have to do is water torture me. I can't stand rain dropping on me. However, I just dealt with it. Nothing else I could do.

We arrived above the fire and in order to get down into the canyon was going to take some maneuvering. I was with 3 rock climbing boys. I was going to be in trouble is what I said. But it wasn't really that hard of a drop. We played in the fire for a while. Not disturbing too much because there were some ground rules. The archeologist haven't been in the canyon and the soil of course is fragile. We made sure there was no possibility of the fire to head down the canyon and destroy more. And then Opie found another way out and we hiked through the dark to the top of the canyon. We stopped and ate the most wonderful MRE. Yes, that is a joke. And then hiked around in the darkness with headlamps for a while before finding our blue flagging telling us how to get down. We finally made it to the vehicle and to the station for a unpeaceful sleep on the floor. My feet were killing me.

Thursday marked a new day. We received a wake up call at 615ish AM, however; we were already awake. Green Hornet was making breakfast for us, well kind of. Now usually on a big fire, you would eat in a mess tent. On a small fire, you would have another MRE. But when you are on a fire near someone's home sometimes things work out. We arrived and Green Hornet had blueberry muffins, pancakes, eggs, and sausage. BF and Opie had to make it though. I got out easy by pouring the juice. It was a great meal. And by 7ish, we would be hiking out to the fire again. My feet immediately starting hurting and I had awoke nauseous so that was only getting worse.

Not a lot had happened overnight. Some areas in the black were still burning, but were of no concern unless the wind picked up. We were checking for hot spots and dealing with them. The rain the night before had given us a good water source for the bladder and so we worked the water over the hot spots. We moved things around to make sure they couldn't catch other green on fire. And we monitored. The nauseousness was getting worse. I was drinking a little water but of course not enough. My feet were killing me. We took a break and I went in and out of sleep while they ate. We finally agreed it was time to pack it up for the day and start the hike back. We still had to get back to town even though our vehicle was already there. Green Hornet agreed to drive us, after all he would be getting OT as well.

So we started hiking back. I was in major pain by this point and kept falling further and further behind. BF was being a kind soul and waiting patiently as I caught up. He had stopped to wait at this junction for me and when I arrived it kind of went like this:

BF: Here drink some water.
Me: No, I am fine. Lets go.
BF: Drink some water it will make you feel better.
Me: No, I don't want any.
BF: Drink some fucking water and quit arguing with me.

Oh yea, I drank the water and did it make me feel better? Nope I became more nauseous and started slowing down more and more. We didn't really talk the rest of the way back and he put some distance in between us. I was of course carrying something that would hurt if smacked against something.

Leader and Opie were already at the vehicle waiting patiently. BF had dropped down off the slickrock and hit the trail. I dropped down the slickrock and started on the dirt. Hell broke loose. The wasp was flying by my head. Of course I think it was more like 5 wasps. I kind of just swung my hand and kept walking. They kept swarming. Then I was bit on my upper back. FUCK. I dropped the tool and put my hand back there. But they kept coming so I grabbed the tool and started moving again. And then I was stung bad on the lower back. I think the words were something of the nature FUCKING SON OF A BITCH. I dropped the tool and saw the sucker on my leg. I hit it with my hand.

BF had turned around at this time realizing I was in shear pain. By the time he saw me, I was stripping off my pack, radio harness, and shirt. And I will not deny that I was crying at this time. That stung was racing up my back and putting me in spasms. I dropped down to my knees. Or did I? Every thing was moving so painfully and my mind was blurry. I grabbed my stuff and started toward the vehicle. I kept having to stop because of the pain shooting through my back. I had unsnapped my pants and loosened the belt because the constriction was making it worse. I climbed in the back of the truck and laid down. BF told Leader and Opie what had happened. Leader asked if I was breathing ok. Always a question when someone is stung. I said yes and we drove to the station for first aid. I was laying in the bottom of the truck bed and it was the weirdest feeling trying to figure out where we were on the road. We arrived and Green Hornet was already there waiting to drive us back.

Remember that conversation with BF about the water? It would be another stab at me when Green Hornet took my blood pressure and then asked if I had been drinking enough fluids. My normal pressure is about 90/70 and I know that it was not there. I also know that my pulse doesn't race at 90 either, but that is where it was. Green Hornet (and probably BF more revengely) was thinking of giving me an IV. But luckily it wasn't necessary. We drove back to town, 65 miles away. I was in pain all night with the poison racing up my back.

Of course, I blame the whole thing on Leader, Opie, and BF because they passed that area first and disturbed the wasps. Today, the bites itch like crazy and I can just imagine that the duty gear belt is going to make it feel so damn good.

I don't suppose I have a moral to the story. I guess that I should drink more water, but we all know that I don't do that. Have a good one.

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