Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fire-fighting Females and Lovely Meadows


We just wanted to see the flowers on the hike to White Pine. Our daughter was home from California for a few days, but the hike ended up being a little more than we bargained for. I'd done the hike the week before and wasn't sure I had the energy to make it all the way. Dear daughter ended up running the last mile, so she could see the lake and get back to swim at a friend's pool. She wanted to pack all of Utah summer fun into short time she had. So she ran down to the lake, passing a group of middle-aged women from Shelley, Idaho. They were on their way back and when I got to them they said they'd wanted to give daughter a speeding ticket. On our way back we came across the women again when they were fighting a fire left by a careless camper. My husband and daughter joined them to see what they could do. I sent a group of young hikers up to join them and our daughter ran down the trail to report the fire that was now engulfing a tree and spreading. Shovels and professionals were needed, not just a group of Chaco wearing kids, Nalgene water bottles, and fearless females snapping pictures and stomping out flames.
So I ended up hiking down, figuring I could wait by Tony's Grove, stay cool, get a drink, and eat some more. Yeah, well they'd had enough help. So on my way down, daughter was on her way back up. She had reported the fire and and was now headed back to take more water to her dad. She mentioned that she had to break into the car with a stick because she'd forgotten the key. So I waited at the car for a couple of hours, fully expecting to see the firefighters show up. My head ached from the sun, not enough water or food. It was hours later than I had expected or prepared to be out. No one ever showed up to fight the fire, but finally the Relief Society ladies from Shelly, Idaho come down the mountain. They reported that they had seen my daughter on the trail, mentioned her running ability and asked if she is in competition. By now she had logged over ten miles--mostly running. Mick, they said was checking hot spots. I took photos of them for their scrap books and maybe to pass around in church. And Mick finally showed up--no daughter! He hadn't seen her. So he headed back up the trail. Eventually Mick and daughter showed up together. He'd come back a different way. So when daughter got to the fire spot and couldn't find him, she worried she'd find him dead in a pile of black ash, or slumped over from a heart attack.
Daughter missed her chance to swim that day, but she had an adventure and got plenty of exercise. I got a migraine but still enjoyed the beautiful meadows and weather. Some women from Shelley, Idaho went beyond the call of duty and possibly saved Tony Grove area from a major forest fire, but whomever started it--will never even know the disaster they caused, and some forest rangers should thank all of them for saving them the trouble. So to all of you who fought the fire on the White Pine trail without thanks from anyone--the group of kids, the couple who first saw it, the lovely Relief Society group, my beautiful daughter, and my tireless husband. Thanks. You did a good thing.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On a Wing and a Prayer

My good friends Larry and Barbara (also my brother-in-law and sister-in-law) told me they are sick to death of reading Pigs, Pigs, Pigs and wondered when I would update my blog. Hurray!!! Someone is actually reading my blog. Sorry to those of you who have stuck with me through my busy time of year. I've had a bunch of art festivals and family events. But now here's something interesting...I hope.

It happened this way. We’d just seen an entire pack of wolves in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. We’d seen wolves before, but never anything like this—seven all together. I was still on a high from the rare sight. It was starting to be dusky light and we hoped to get back to the cabin in Silver Gate Montana before our little grandchildren went to bed for the night, so I drove a pretty good clip, still pausing the car when we saw elk, deer, antelope, and huge bison, literally on the road at times.
I was going around 50 mph when Mick said, “Don’t hit it.”
“What?” Then I could see it too. A little gosling, or something tiny standing in the middle of the highway. I swerved around it. Then Mick decided he needed to help the little bird get across the busy highway. Besides now a car was approaching in the opposite direction. Would it hit the bird? I couldn’t find a good place to turn around on the narrow highway. Finally, I just turned around, miles past the bird.
When we got back to the spot, the other car we’d seen was stopped in the road. Had they hit the bird? We couldn’t see anything smashed and then they drove over into a turnout. We pulled alongside their car—now noting that it was a gray Subaru Forester almost exactly like ours, only a bit more packed with stuff and two young women, probably in their twenties in front. We’ve always felt a camaraderie with Subaru drivers. There are usually at least a few things you will have in common. It’s kind of like a giant club. We rolled our window down and so did they.
“Did you help the bird?” I asked.
“Yes.” The driver said in a timid voice. She had a look on her face like she was hiding a secret.
Then we heard—chirp, chirp, chirp. And she held the fuzzy yellow gosling up for us to see.
“What should we do with it?” She asked.
Mick was convinced we’d be able to find the other part of her family. So we began to look for a mother and father goose. We traipsed up and down the banks of the very swift and full Soda Butte River, but couldn’t find any sign of the parents. We didn’t dare put it in the water, because we knew without a mother it would be lost in the roar of rushing water.
We discussed what our options were. We could take it to the rangers, but one of the young women worked in Mammoth, and figured if they showed it to the rangers they would lecture her to let nature take its course and abandon the bird. Or worse slap a fine. There are rules a plenty to be broken in the Park. In Yellowstone it is not acceptable to interfere with nature, but in this case—the road caused the gosling to get lost. The road doesn’t fit into the wild scheme of survival of the fittest, at least in my view it shouldn’t. The young women kept calling it a duck, but it was a gosling. Anyway after jokes about bird-napping, they took the baby—determined to find some calmer waters ahead where they knew some other ducks or geese or whatever.
"I like your car," the driver said before pulling away.
I’m hoping on a wing and prayer that the little gosling somehow makes it.