Hitch 5: Engineering; Fires, Breakdowns, and Rosemary

Hitch leader: Steph Kopfman
Member: Tisha

Monday started out with a panic button pressed. After waking up an hour after sleeping though my 4 am alarm I raced out the door into the pitch dark and headed toward the kitchen. When I reached the kitchen Lisa and Jackie were sitting calmly eating breakfast at the table and watching me freaking out. Lisa made me toast while I was trying to make my brain function. Luckily I had packed most of the gear the day before and only had a few things to throw in a cooler and our personal gear to put in the vehicle. I asked them if they had seen Tisha and the said, “no”. I spent the next ten minutes chucking the rest of the gear into the truck and tying it down. After that was done I headed back to the kitchen in hopes of seeing Tisha there ready to go. No such luck. So I ran over to her house and all the lights were off. Not a good sign. I tip toed though their house trying not to wake everyone up. Not knowing what room she was in I just picked the first one and in my loudest whisper called her name in the dark. I heard a groan of a yeah and asked if she was awake and she said yes. Considering all the lights were off I was pretty sure she wasn’t. I told her that we had ten minutes till we had to leave and instantly her own panic kicked in. An impressive fifteen minutes later she was in the truck, vehicle checks were done, toast sitting on the center console and a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper in my lap. We were on our way. We arrived in Salmon on time and met with Pete, Jim and Gary our contacts. Tisha was sent with Jim to pick up the grader and Gary and I went to pick up the water truck. Unfortunately the water truck was by Opal Lake and required me to drive the hour and half back by Moyer. On our way there Jim calls and tells us we need fire clothing because will be working in a fire area. After picking up the truck we drove down Spring Creek. I got in my fire clothes a beautiful hunter green pant paired with a stunning mustard yellow long sleeve button up shirt. We spent the next two days trimming trees and watching Jim fix a wash out in front of a bridge. We also ran into J.P.( Fire Crew 7) whom we worked with in the fuels hitch. I promise we’re not stalking Fire Crew 7. At the end of the first day we came back to the truck (old Bess) and she had a flat. Jim and Gary were awesome and stayed and helped fix it. After a two hour drive back to North Fork we were too tired to fix dinner and so we ate at the restaurant there and watched the Olympics. Wednesday we drove down to Blackfoot and picked up a brand new truck and drove back. It was a long drive. Thursday Gary and us went to a campground to work and we trimmed trees and put in not so up to code handicap path. Considering we only had a shovel and a rake we did a pretty good job. We talked to several of the folks staying there and it was a lot of fun.
We started the second half of the hitch a day early by adding another member, Sarah, and volunteering to give fire information out at North Fork Ranger Station between 8-12pm. Not surprising that no one came in that late so we had Smoky the Bear kids’ activity book competitions. When were leaving old Bess made a crunching grinding noise as we were leaving the parking lot. When we got onto the highway and got up to 50 mph. it started sounding like it was on rumble strips. At midnight there isn’t much we could do so we drove slowly to the campground and just went to bed. The next morning we drove slowly to Salmon arriving 20 minutes late after dropping of Sarah for her hitch. We took it to the shop and dropped it off. Over the next few days we changed vehicles 4 times and found out Old Bess had a cracked transfer case. We were assigned a particularly bushy road that needed a lot of work by Gibbonsville that week. After work one day we were craving Mexican food and heard of a very good place there in town. When we got there the lady that runs the place told us they were not open until later that week but told us to come in and she would fix us enchiladas. She was a very very nice lady named Rosemary and she had fantastic food. She made us homemade chips and salsa and a huge plate of chicken enchiladas and offered if we came back the next day to let us take showers in one of the rental cabins she owns. We spent the rest of the week working on the road and have the pole saw breakdown on us. We also got the opportunity to tour the fire camp which we enjoyed. Needless to say in was an interesting hitch with some rough patches but filled with great people.