Bumping Lake Dispatch

August 10th began with a drive to Naches Ranger Station; Crew 75 was on it’s way to beautiful Bumping Lake to help with a ‘fire use (or ‘managed for multiple objectives’) fire.’ When we arrived we realized that we would spend the majority of our time on the dispatch doing thinning/project work along the lake. Each day we hiked out a road to begin our work. The first two days we helped with a bit of public traffic control, and I had the chance to learn how to do traffic control using a radio (it took a minute to get used to it). The sawyers worked their way along the road falling the prescribed amount of trees (the prescription for the site was something like: take all live trees 5 inches or smaller, take all dead trees 7 inches or smaller, and leave the rest). The rest of the crew, the ‘chainers,’ worked to chain the branches and debris to the road into piles to be chipped. We spent a few days chaining to the road, then under different fire management ideas, we chained the branches back into the woods (farther out from where it had been cut). The incident commanders were deciding the best way to arrange the fuels in case the fire made it’s way out of the wilderness and down to the lake. I suppose I should mention the fire, the reason we were there. It was a wilderness fire, Incident 246, Boulder Creek Fire, which was being managed for multiple objectives. This meant that there was no need to go into the wilderness deemed area to suppress a fire that was started naturally by lightening. We were there to help manage the area on general forest service land where people had cabins along the lake that would be easily swept over if the fire came over and down the ridge to the lake. The objective of our work was to create a fuel break between the structures and the fire, so that the fire would slow and creep down the hill when it reached the area we thinned. This job is all about caring for the land and serving the people. We spent a few days working on the thinning and chaining, then later in the week we worked with the wood chipper for the day. The last days of our dispatch were pretty relaxed, we helped with more fuels distribution, checked the pump hose lay (which was gravity fed from a sock in a creek up the hill; very cool), and by August 17th we were on our way back to Leavenworth. It was quite a luxurious dispatch, we made overtime and hazard pay each day, were fed amazing meals two times a day (with a semi-less incredible sack lunch in the middle), and camped out at the Naches Ranger District Work Center (showers and real bathrooms available). I was quite proud of my fire fighter self for making it through the entire week without showering though, hopefully I wasn’t too terribly smelly. Overall it was a great experience to get a taste of what a dispatch is, to spend more time with my crew before I head home in a few weeks, and to get out in the woods and away from cell phones and the internet for a week.

Beautiful place to spend a week…

Watching the sawyers during my shift of road guard…

View at the beach while we were pulling out the pumps…

Chipping our wood piles…

Lovely salt stains, working hard…

These beetles are EVERYWHERE, they fly around from tree to tree, and when they land on your hard hat it feels like a rock hit you…

The last view of beautiful Bumping Lake…

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One Response to Bumping Lake Dispatch

  1. Don Graves says:

    Hi Tracy:
    I’m so interested in your blog site. I check it every couple of days and it’s always a let down when there is nothing new. But just re-reading the earlier ones is fun.

    You, best of all the family, can probably understand my enthusiasm, when as a a high school sophamore (and for four more summers) I got a job with the Alaska Road Commission working on the construction of the road across the Kenai Peninsula. They PAID me to go live in a camp, eat hardy meals, work with guys who had been everywhere and done everything legal (and some not so legal), and had fought wars all over the globe, down on the most beautiful part of Alaska, “the Kenai”. The fact that I had to work eight hours a day was a bonus because, as time went on, I became a truck driver, a “cat-skinner”, a fire-fighter. a “powder monkey” (blowing out ditches through swampy areas and cracking some of the huge “erratics” left over from when all that area was under a mile of ice), a mechanic and much more. Just the memories I have now are worth all the effort (and sometimes the misery) I had then.

    I can really identify with your joy and enthusiasm for the job and the opportunity you have created for yourself.



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