Believe nothing without doing research
When I was a firefighter working for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, I worked for a man beyond compare. Firstly, he didn’t believe in trails.
Following my seasoned supervisor up a drainage and straight up and up and up Crosier Mountain’s flank, pride was the only thing that kept me no more than 10 yards behind him, his assistant and a smoke jumper. I couldn’t believe these guys could hike like goats and know where the heck they were with no trail.
While resting on a bench and contemplating the next ascent I saw what looked like a pickup truck driving along a road. I said, “Hey, Gleason, I thought you said there were no roads up here!”
In the Forest Service the first rule is to believe nothing without doing some research. Working in a place where a rookie could be convinced that his truck was low on blinker fluid is a good example of why I thought most utterances facetious.
At second glance I realized the pickup truck was an elk. So then I was not only caught whining, but I had opened myself up to ridicule. The second rule of things not to do when working in the woods.
Redoubled is not a real word, but it is close to describing how I tackled the rest of the climb. I am positive I had three near heart failures before we reached our lunch rock and stayed relatively quiet the rest of the day.
As we sat high above the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies we could see Denver in the smoggy distance.
“Someone’s trying to park down there,” our assistant fire management officer said.
Talk turned to fire stories. The smoke jumper, who had fought fires for 10 years, concluded that his job was the best on the planet. Ever since, I use that phrase to gauge how I feel about what I do for a living.
While discussing story ideas with our editor last week I told him I had tracked down a source at a local public house because he hadn’t returned my phone calls. As I went into great detail regarding the “off the record” part of the conversation and into further historical detail on a story I’ve tracked for several years I began to slobber a little and my eyes glazed.
“You really like your job, don’t you?” he asked.
Best job on the planet.