Friday, June 17, 2011
Last Wednesday I left with my crew (5 total) to head to the Wallow Fire in Arizona. I have been a volunteer firefighter for the past three years and basically have little hands on experience. I was excited and a little apprehensive about going so far away and not being in the best shape. I tend to bag out of events that require me to exert myself and put myself out there for the world to see just how out of shape I really am.
The first day out we hiked a little bit around our area and found the homes that were in need of protection. I noticed that my breathing was a little labored and I chalked it up to the fact that I have a desk job and even though my best friend and I walk on our breaks I do nothing else remotely active. The second day I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to do my job effectively and may cause more harm than good. Our post was to sit on a small hill and watch for spot fires around the area. I thought that was a great idea for me to make sure I wasn't doing to much too fast.
The third, fourth and fifth days of our tour on the Wallow Fire consisted of long hikes up and down the mountain sides carrying hand tools and our wildland packs that weigh at least 45 pounds. I found myself struggling in the mornings as we started out but noticed that I wasn't the only one having some issues breathing. We took a small break for water and potty breaks and got into a conversation with a few other crew members from a neighboring community. Turns out that our breathing issues weren't just because we were not in the best shape, we were also at 7.500 ft elevation!!! WHEW!! Here I am thinking I am going to drop dead because I'm fat. Not a chance, hearing that gave me more energy than I knew I had. I realized that just because I wasn't a skinny little supermodel didn't mean that I wasn't in shape at all.
The walking we do at work really helped me keep up the pace I needed during this fire. My feet were killing me at the end of each day, but that was the only thing that hurt. My muscles were sore because they weren't being used like that at home, and the four - five hours of sleep a night sleeping on the ground didn't help. I found myself rejuvenated and excited that I was going to come back home, quit being a cheap skate and join the gym. I want to be back out there with my crew helping others keep their homes and families safe from the element of Fire.
This trip set my mind in motion to continue to make myself more healthy, continue on my path of education and the most important decision of all was to believe in myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.
A side note...the fabulous people of South Fork Ranch, Eager and Springerville, AZ were being allowed back into their communities the day before we left. There were homes lost, but to our knowledge no lives have been lost on this fire. The people of those communities were so gracious and thankful to all of us that helped save their towns and from my crew to them I want to say Thank You for your hospitality and You're Welcome.