Hitch Report 2: 26 Sept. — 7 Oct. Getting Our Hands Dirty.

Hitch Report 2 – 26 Sept. through 7 Oct. The hitch started off with the crew experiencing line digging for the first time since arriving in the Springerville Fire district. Line is dug around the planned burn area to keep the fire contained. The crew was able to work with the fuels (burning material, trees) assistant fire management officer all week. We finished line on two areas being prepped for a prescribed burn scheduled for the upcoming weeks, the first area being approximately 2000 acres and the second approximately 2400 acres with some great grass stretches. So look forward to some great fire pictures in the near future. On Wednesday the crew visited dispatch in Show Low, AZ. This is where all the radio magic happens. Dispatch receives all calls for the entire Apache-Sitgreaves forest! After a tour from their staff, the crew finished their Red Card (wildland fire fighting certification) paperwork as well as their AD (on-call fire fighters) paperwork. Now the crew is able to help the forest with any fires as well as join them on any trips. The crew finished out the week with some finishing touches on a fire line and a tool re-handling class. Re-handling is a necessary skill when working outdoors, especially since our handles are taking a beating when everyone is so much stronger after all the PT we do! That weekend some of the members climbed Mt. Baldy, the second highest peak in Arizona. The entire hike is 15 miles long, topping out at 11,420 feet. The hike began early in the morning with a crisp air. The crew ascended on the western trail made up of long switch backs. The peak was reached at noon just in time for lunch. After a quick lunch and some picture modeling, the members took the eastern trail for their descent. Offering a much better view, the trail went through tall pines, large rock formations and even a plane wreck. After a long hike the members ordered some pizza for a job well done. The next week was spent helping a couple of engine boss’ clear a dozer line put it on one of our prescribed burn areas. Dozer lines are used for fire lines when the terrain permits, and is much easier than using hand tools. This had the crew swamping for a couple of sawyers as well as removing debris. On Wednesday the crew passed the IS-700 class, Introduction to NIMS (national incident management system), a required class from FEMA. We also learned this week that an engine crew leaving for some fires in Texas had one spot open for an SCA member. After a very intense and nerve racking name drawing, James got the lucky spot. The week ended with a breakfast at the Helitack (helicopter fire suppression) house. Everyone brought ingredients for breakfast burritos and watched as the forest service used a giant skillet contraption to cook up some delicious and large burritos. The rest of the day had the crew working on resumes, applying for jobs, and helping the forest service strip old trucks for auction. Next week the crew will be conducting meadow restoration projects by thinning out junipers or starting prescribed burn operations.