In the summer of 1991, I had the pleasure of being a part of the Yosemite Fire team based out of Wawona. What a great group of people I was able to grow with. As a team, we responded to several back country fires. My first experience was a “raging” fire, a whole 1-Chain, or like 60 square foot smolderer. Myself and another firefighter were flown by helicopter, by a Vietnam Veteran pilot and inserted somewhere above Chilnualna Falls. With a one skid landing, this combat pilot dropped us right into the fire fight, literally. Using back-pack pumps, polaskis, and McCleods, our team of two fought hard to contain the flames. After a long, four-hour fight, we contained the inferno and settled in to ensure our protective lines preserved the pristine back country. The peace and pride I felt at that moment recharged my soul. We enjoyed lunch and took in the spectacular view. As the flames died to smoke and smoke died to coals, our need to stay died with it. Clearly, we were successful and the fire could be declared out. About the time my adrenaline was wearing off, our peace was interrupted by the crackling of the radio on my partners hip.
“Are you all ready to come back, we need you at the station, there’s more strikes out there.” It was our Red Hat Lisa’s voice, “Can I send a bird to get you guys?”
“No.” my partner said, “It’s too windy.”
I looked blankly at him, wondering if the light breeze I felt, constituted “too windy.”
An hour later, as we wound through the beauty of Yosemite, hiking our way out, being bathed by the mists of Chilnualna Falls, I understood the reason for his response, and gifts from nature we were able to enjoy. That summer, I was blessed to enjoy some of the most beautiful sites known to man. That summer changed me forever, and have me an appreciation for the gifts nature has to offer.
Casa Grande, AZ