CannonTour - The Armies of Summer (Wildland Firefighting) Pt 1/3

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    Mt. Rainier is an awesome place. We drove through thick fog to get there, as we approached the mountain, it just cleared. Hiked in the snow (despite park service warnings not to do so) and had an awesome time. What could be bad about embedding your kid in a snow bank?
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  2. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

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    It's not the snow that can be dangerous, it's the hidden streams of meltwater underneath the snowbank that can kill you, fall in one and your rattling down the drainpipe of death.
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  3. gremor

    gremor RS'er

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    Cannonshot, thanks for the time and effort you put into these reports.

    It's better than any NOVA special on PBS!


    Greg
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  4. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    We were rather careful. Seeing others coming down the trail in flip flops kind of calmed our fears a bit. We were properly attired and with the correct shoes.
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  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Well, I finished up with that Search and Rescue exercise with state government. How did I get hooked into that? They needed someone from the Trail Patrol program to work with some aircraft and ground units. Having been a Colonel and a fixed wing pilot, some folks figured I would fit the bill (and also having the necessary emergency management credentials). I have to admit I really enjoyed working with the Army aviation folks again. Cool professionals that reminded me of some things I forgot that I missed about the military.

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    Anyway, I worked a site that had multiple search and rescue scenarios. I had two iterations of two aircraft at a time. We also had two ground crews at the site as part of the search effort.

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    I would get an ARNG UH-60 and a State Patrol Cessna 172 at the same time. Altitude separation so no problem there. A big priority for me was to keep the aircraft meaningfully engaged so that no one was wasting any opportunities at our training site.

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    At one point, a Blackhawk blew down a tree that blocked a trail. They called me to report it. This inspired me to gin up a new scenario that was no doubt inspired by this wildland firefighting themed trip. I radioed the ground units (UTVs) to form a pack and ensure accountability of all, told them that their egress route was now blocked by an exercise forest fire, and told them that they would have to follow the helicopter out of the forest to a safe zone. I radioed the helicopter with the new scenario and mission which they gladly took on (something new and different no doubt). I asked the helicopter to guide the UTVs out while keeping them clear of fire. Since the helicopter was down low with limited vis and some terrain sight line issues, I radioed the airplane and asked them to go air-to-air with the helicopter and to help overcome their limited vis issues by flying higher as a lookout to help guide them clear of any threatening fires. Something new and unexpected for them as well. I used that as one of the scenarios on both iterations of two aircraft coming to the scene. People enjoyed it and probably benefitted from the training experience.

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    After my career in the military this kind of radio work and coordination was pretty routine but still pretty hectic at times. I had fun participating in the exercise. Now they want to put me on a call list to do this kind of work for real emergencies. I'm willing to go on the list, but I doubt I would ever actually get called. Who knows. :dunno

    Even so, I'm happy to participate with exercises like this. As you can tell by the topic of this report, I find all this stuff interesting. :D
  6. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan from Scottsdale Supporter

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    Interesting training! Thanks for sharing it. I was a cavalry scout pilot in RVN. As you know, we flew with gunship cover in Pink Teams or Cav Teams. Because the scout was on the deck, the lead gunship pilot ran the mission. He was at altitude and could guide the scout to keep us in the right area. I imagine your fixed wing pilot served the same purpose.
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  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 14 Continued

    Poking around Mt Rainier (park) a little more but no view of the mountain. :(

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    This is a really nice ride loop along the SW side of the mountain.
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    Long line to get into the park.
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  8. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 14 Continued

    Mount Adams Scenic Drive

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    This is a nice ride.
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    Mount Adams hasn't erupted in about 1,400 years but it is still considered to be potentially active. It is the second highest mountain in the Cascades. It is also one of the least developed.

    Some clouds in the way. We'll get a better look later on.
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    I saw a few bikes back this way which made me wonder of part of this was on another motorcycle path.
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    I guess Washington has some rainforest. Maybe not here though.
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    These folks are proud of their Smoky the Bear carving out front.
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    I had to look up beargrass as we don't have it in Wisconsin. Turns out it is related to forest fires. It helps with erosion control and helps to clean up the forest floor after a burn. Grizzlies sometimes use it in their dens, but I don't know why they call it beargrass. :dunno
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  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 14 Continued

    Mount St. Helens Part I

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    A nice ride to the overlook.
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    Damage starting to appear many miles from the peak.
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    Spirit Lake
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    Trees from the eruption event.
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    Mount St. Helens had a major eruption in 1980. 57 people were killed, 250 homes were destroyed, 47 bridges destroyed along with 185 miles of roads and 18 miles of railroad track. It was the deadliest and costliest volcanic event in US history. An avalanche triggered an earthquake that Richtered out at 5.1. The event blew about 1,300' of elevation off the mountain and left a mile wide crater.

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    There is another viewpoint a little higher up.
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    Uh, no thanks.
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  10. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    Lewis and Clark first called it beargrass because that's where they saw a lot of the bears.
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  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 14 Continued

    Mount St. Helens Part II

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    Mount Adams cleared for a bit.
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    Must have been quite a force to knock down these substantial trees miles away.
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  12. Ducatijim

    Ducatijim Hopeless Poseuer!

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    I really enjoyed riding and exploring that area when I was there this time last year. Mother Nature eh, whew!
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  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 14 Continued

    Down to the Columbia River and the end of the day.

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    Carson NFH
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    "Our adult returns this year have been somewhat slow. We have 618 adult Spring Chinook salmon back to the hatchery. We need roughly 1,500 adults to meet our production goals. Currently Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery has saved enough adults to cover our needs as well as their own. We continue to keep our ladder open for those slow returners...stop in and see our fish; they are looking good in our adult holding ponds. Our spawn dates this year will be August 14 & 21."

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    Lots of timber products in the region.
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  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 15 395 Miles

    Columbia River and into Oregon.
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    Exploring in the vicinity of the Bridge of the Gods
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    I covered the Columbia River on much of the Columbia River Scenic Byway.
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    Bonneville Fish Hatchery
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    Bonneville Dam
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    The Bonneville Dam was built for electric power and navigation.
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    At the time it was built in the 1930s, it had the largest impoundment of this type and could handle mega floods. At one time there was a big stink about making public power available. The private power companies didn't like it but Frankie Roosevelt came through with it.
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    I wonder how many generating stations this water has been through on its journey down the river.
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    Fish ladder.
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  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 14 Continued - Still poking around the Bridge of the Gods area.

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    The Bridge of the Gods first went in back in 1926 and was a little over 1,100' long. Because of the higher river levels from the new dam, the bridge had to be elevated and extended to 1,858' in 1940.
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    This picture is taken from the location of some pre-dam locks. Some are now underwater and one is still visible to the right. The locks were used to bypass some rapids.
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    The Pacific Crest Trail crosses this bridge. It is the lowest elevation on the trail. Ever since the movie Wild came out traffic has increased on this bridge so they raised the toll to $2.
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    This Google pic shows the open grates on the bridge deck.
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    I was checking out this location where they were replacing a rail bridge while still keeping the line in operation.
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    This was America's first municipally owned pot shop. It is no longer there. When I was looking for it I asked a woman that was walking her dog about it. Boy, did she give me an earful about how she went down to city hall and expressed her objections, etc, etc. :lol3
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    This building was used as the evil lab in the movie Short Circuit. If you take a tour here you can stand on a live working generator.
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    This slide that plugged the river only happened about 500 years ago. The end state was a set of roaring rapids (now underwater because of the dam).
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    The landslide today.
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  16. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    There were no steps there when I climbed that hill back in ‘92...:gerg

    The devastation a LONG way from the mountain is one of my enduring memories. And we walked a long way down a lava tube too - that was darker than dark!! :twitch

    S
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  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 15 Continued

    Heading east along the north shore of the Columbia Part I.

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    Scenic ride along the river.
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  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 15 Continued

    Still riding east along the north shore.

    White Salmon is named after a now extinct salmon that used to live around here. Back in 1852, a couple of settlers bought some land from the local tribe and started the place up. Once some local tribes lost out in the Yakima War, the area was thrown open to settlers in 1858. Somewhere along the line (1970s) the town decided to try to adopt a Bavarian theme but I guess it didn't take. I think they were trying to score like Leavenworth did. We visited Leavenworth earlier in this report.
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    Back in 1946 some folks started up this lumber outfit along the river at White Salmon. I think they are into plywood.
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    White Salmon is mostly up on the ridge.
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    I saw a lot of fruit boxes piled up in the region.
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    Old school wooden boxes.
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    This sign marks Googleville the place where some guy sells tools and juice on the weekend.
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    Locals call this "secret" (unmarked) Google facility along the river "Googleville". We'll visit that a little closer up in a bit.
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    Mount Hood
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    We'll check more on that in a bit as well.
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    Dropping down to check out some old railroad stuff along the river.
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    From back when this was someplace . . .
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  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 15 Continued

    Wrapping up the north shore.

    Stonehenge is a memorial to WWI war dead.
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    Heading over to the south side of the Columbia River.
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  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 15 Continued

    Heading west on the south shore of the Columbia - The Dalles.

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    The Corps slipped this dam in back in the 1950s
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    The water soon covered Celilo Falls which was a tribal fishing area.
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    The water behind the dam covered over the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America. They did move out some petroglyphs before they went under.
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    The government provided some alternate fishing sites for the tribes.
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    Railroad tie manufacturer.
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    Cross-ties, switch-ties, and bridge timbers. Gotta be some chemicals here.
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    The Dalles was a Native American trading center for about 10,000 years. A lot of wagon trains with settlers ended here because the cliffs along the river stopped them from going further west. The government built a mint here to use gold from the region. That didn't work out. The place is a brewery now. In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chief (the narrator) is from The Dalles. The film Penalty Phase was filmed in and around The Dalles.

    In 1984, The Dalles was the scene of the first and single largest bioterrorism attack in US history. Some movement tried to gain control of the local government. They placed salmonella in 10 restaurants causing 751 people to become ill.

    Bobbie The Wonder Dog came through here in 1924. He was lost on a family trip in Indiana and took it upon himself to journey 3,000 miles to find his way home. He was mangy, scrawny, had his nails worn to nubs, but he made it. This included swimming rivers and crossing the Continental Divide in winter.

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    There used to be a mission around here and people would preach to the Indians from Pulpit Rock.
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    They preserved it.
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    Google put their first data center here in The Dalles. It employs about 200+ people. It cost a couple of billion to get this thing up and running.
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    No signs identify the facility. Poorly kept secret I guess.
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    All those electronics must generate a lot of heat.
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    Take a peek inside.

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    Lots of electric power available here . . . and needed.
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