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

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

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 5 Continued

    Heading Up to Green River

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    Manila isn't much with only about five streets and 300 people.
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    Heading toward Green River.
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    That sign should make it a lot easier to find the dog.
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    I stopped to see the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport. In 1994 the Green River City Council changed the name of this airport to what it is now. They wanted it available for inhabitants of Jupiter that might want to take sanctuary in Green River in the event their planet is threatened with comet or meteor strikes. Back in 94 a comet busted up and hit Jupiter so with all the publicity forward thinking Green River took action. There are no aircraft or spacecraft based here. There is a 5,800 foot gravel runway that does not have a clear line of sight from either end and a windsock. Pretty good security though.
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    Heading into Green River from the spaceport.
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    Green River is where John Wesley Powell began his exploratory expeditions on the Green and Colorado Rivers and the Grand Canyon back in the late 1800s. Not sure if there was a portage around the Flaming Gorge Dam back then.

    The place was original supposed to be a division point for the railroad, but when the railroad got here they found a large town had already evolved. Since this drove up costs, they put that in someplace else. Laying track from Rawlins was tough because of the lack of water for steam, animals, and men. They had to haul it in as they went. The water at Green River was important. As luck would have it, the division point the Union Pacific developed 12 miles away dried up water-wise so they ended up having to move it to Green River - essentially saving the town's existence.

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    There are five soda ash mines in the area that employ about 2,000 people.

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    Sportscaster Curt Gowdy was from here.

    These days many of the big railroad yards have no crossings in town. You either go over or under by bridge or tunnel or take a pedestrian walkway like this one.
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    I don't know what this was, but it looked like it was something back in the day.
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    Under we go.
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    Railroad shop.
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    #61
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  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 5 Continued

    Wild Horses and Rock Springs

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    There is a scenic drive with interpretive signs that allows you to view wild horses and check out some other things in the area. Great views from the rim. The first few miles have gravel and dust control. As you go further uphill those conditions go downhill.
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    The views are great.
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    A few things about these free-roaming "wild" horses and burros. They are really feral horses that are descendants from animals that 16th century Spanish explorers brought over and other horses that came from Army units and immigrants. Some call them "mustangs" which is Americanized slang for a Spanish word that means "stray".
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    A problem is that these animals don't have any significant predators that can keep their population in balance. These herds can double in size every 3-4 years. They are not endangered and there is no problem with underpopulation.
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    In the early 1800s there were probably about 2 million wild horses in the west. This was a problem when in competition with sheep and cattle. In the 1940s professionals were rounding up horses to sell to slaughterhouses. The brutal process attracted attention which led to some federal legislation to protect the animals.

    Awesome views up here. Nice to watch the world go by.
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    Pilot Butte is on top here. I think there is an old mine over there.
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    I was seeing a lot of horse manure around. It seemed too carefully placed to be random. Sure enough, I read that the males will crap right in the middle of the road to mark their territory. They like that it is very visible to other horses. Sometimes they will revisit their previous piles to refresh them causing some to grow as much as three feet high.
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    Pesky storm working in the direction I eventually need to go . . . again.
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    This is a map of the horse tour route.
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    Reliance Tipple. Not much left of Reliance.
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    A view of the mesa I was riding on the horse tour.
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    #62
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 5 Continued

    Internment Camp for Horses and Burros, Rock Springs

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    When there get to be too many horses it is helicopter time.
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    Excess animals in this area are brought here. They can be adopted under certain conditions. None are sent to the slaughterhouse.
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    A typical free ranging horse stands about 52-60 inches tall and weights between 700 and 1,000 pounds. Burros run 44 inches and 500 pounds on average.
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    Even though these horses were in prison, there were three ponies that were having a ball playing with each other.
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    They would frolic, kick in the air, and chase each other around. Two of them seemed to show affection to each other. Pretty heartwarming to watch.
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    Used to be the Wonder Bread store in Rock Springs.
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    Rock Springs is the home of 56 nationalities due to the immigrants that came here to work the mines and railroad. Butch Cassidy worked at some butcher shops here. Some will try to tell you that is how he came to be called "Butch".

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    In 1885 there was a massacre of Chinese workers here. The UP paid them less than white workers so the whites resented the UP and the Chinese for holding them back. Twenty-eight Chinese dead (some mutilated, burned, or only bone fragments found). The UP had to send trains to evacuate some Chinese only for the Chinese to find hate in other places along the line. Although there were some arrests, no one could seem to come up with the evidence required.

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    Horses and burros used in mines had tough going.
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    Eventually they were replaced.
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    Nice old fire station.
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    #63
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  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Beer ad scoring off smoke jumpers.

    #64
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 5 Continued

    To Pinedale and end of day.

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    Still have this looming along my intended route.
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    Farson Mercantile is supposed to be a great ice cream stop. Note the wind driving the flag.
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    I rode on the original trail when I was out here doing the Pony Express. Interesting to do so.
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    I was hoping to make Pindedale before it hit.
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    Mountain men, rendezvous, and that kind of stuff are part of Pinedale's history. They have a Museum of the Mountain Man there.
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    Interesting rig.
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    End of day 5. Nice riding again today and lots of interesting things to explore.
    #65
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  6. swimmer

    swimmer armchair asshole

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    Just checked the price on one of those rigs. Wow.

    Thanks for the excellent RR.
    #66
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  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Little Venus Fire Entrapment

    I had the site of the Little Venus Fire burnover on my planned route. Since the actual site would have involved a significant hike into the backcountry I decided that about the only thing I would see there is the trailhead where the pack animals staged and the firefighters hiked out to after the burnover.

    The burnover spot is the red pin that is low center on the map.
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    The following video is a must see if you are at all curious about these shelters and what it was like for these people to be entrapped and burned over. One fellow took photos for the record in the event they didn't make it and they are quite interesting. Some of their tools and equipment on the ground outside their shelters were melted or the handles burned away. It speaks to the effectiveness of these shelters (which are not designed to protect against direct flames) when the characteristics of the deployment site and the circumstances of the fire line up right. It also shows how quickly a situation can change and get out of control. Might make some people think the next time they ride up to one of those road closed signs when a wildfire is going on. :D

    The first known use of a fire shelter was in 1804. A boy survived a prairie fire when his mother covered him with a fresh bison hide. As mentioned, modern fire shelters can't withstand direct contact with flames. They are designed to reflect radiant heat, protect against convective heat, and trap breathable air. Many fire deaths are from breathing hot gases. The idea with the shelters is that firefigthers might survive in areas that aren't burning but are surrounded by intense fire.

    Fire shelters are made with layers of aluminum foil, fiberglass, and woven silica. They are about 86" X 15.5" X 31". I think there is a newer version than these.
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    #67
  8. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    Very sobering video. The pictures the guy took were unreal. Thanks for posting that. Really shows people what they go through.
    #68
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  9. rjnutt

    rjnutt Desert tortoise

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    Really enjoying your report. Thanks!
    #69
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  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 479 miles

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    On to Jackson and a Helitack Base.
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    They have a lot of projects trying to minimize collisions with deer and antelope.
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    I can see why he picked a spot where there were trees to use but it didn't work out in the end.
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    Another one of those barrier/ramp dealies to get deer and antelope in the right of way to jump out of the right of way.
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    Another deer/antelope crossing.
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    Toward Jackson.
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    Along the way I drove past the Monument RIdge lookout but didn't ride up to check it out. You can rent it as lodging.

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    Clear day but clouds stuck to the Tetons.
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    I saw a number of deer along the roads this morning.
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    The terrain along here chokes the passage down to a narrow path. Early explorers and travelers passed through here.
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    Elk Crossing Next 5 Miles
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    Tough life for the early explorers that tried to make it out here.
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    #70
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  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Continued On to Jackson

    This failing bridge will be replaced in 2023 at a cost of over half a million bucks. Another bridge was a swinging bridge that a fix-it man built for $1,250. It was built from second hand steel and old cables. The fix-it man rigged a home made drag line to dig foundations. His 13 year old son helped him along with a couple of jobless guys he hired for 40 cents an hour. Forest Rangers showed up to tell him he needed a permit - too late. A county engineer showed up asking to see the blueprints. There weren't any. All the builder had was a picture postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge. It took two months, but the 3 ton bridge turned out to be sturdy and steady. Try pulling that off today.
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    Jackson is a nice resort town. Kind of expensive here. I asked a firefighter how they found affordable housing in the area.
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    Live music six days a week. They claim "Countless celebrities, presidents, royalty, cowhands, as well as people from all walks of life, have enjoyed great western fun within the walls of the iconic Million Dollar Cowboy Bar".
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    Sculptures for sale.
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    Each corner of the town square park has a portal like this. Antlers need to be replaced every 30-40 years.
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    There is a fire cache at the USFS station in town. Firefighting equipment is stored and ready to equip personnel that might be brought here to fight fires.
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    There is an engine stationed here as well. I saw it going out as I was pulling in so I didn't get to check it out. I did talk to a woman firefighter here that told me that they had a composite Type II crew that they could form when needed using people that have other jobs with the USFS but are also trained to fight fire (biologists, office people, etc).
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    Still impressive . . . even with the clouds.
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    #71
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  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Helitack Base

    This is an interagency helitack base.
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    Like many bases, they have a collection of crew pictures from over the years.
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    Earlier I explained that helitack involved quickly getting firefighters to remote locations to pounce on fires before they grow. They can also make water drops and do some other things like light fires from the air. This helitack crew also has a short haul capability.
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    I rode the rescue hoist a few times when I was in the military. These folks don't use a hoist. They suspend people from beneath a helicopter on lines that can vary in length. One line is 250' long which might be used to work a narrow canyon or tall trees where the aircraft can't get in. With two people hanging from a 250' line I hope that pilot has excellent depth perception. :D
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    Crew locker room. The black bag is for a firefighter's personal and life support gear when on a deployment for a while.
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    Helitack crews have trucks that can chase the helicopter to bring assets closer to the fire. This makes the sorties much shorter than coming back to the airport to rig things that can be on the truck.
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    The big bag hangs with the two firefighters under the aircraft when they go on a rescue. By the way, this firefighter has been at it for 14 years.
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    The bag has things they need to deal with a patient.
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    This device allows you to package the patient and then pump air out so that the patient gets firm and even support with no hot spots.
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    Someone that is not in too bad of shape can be rigged into this seat and lifted out.
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    Another way to travel.
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    Some medical equipment in the big bag includes an AED, oxygen, and an aid bag.
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    The truck is loaded with crew gear and their life support bags so they are ready to deploy immediately.
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    More stuff on the truck.
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    #72
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  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Helitack Base Continued

    This station has two aircraft. One was deployed fighting a fire. Assets get moved around where they are needed. This aircraft is owned by a private company and is contracted for the fire season. The contractor furnishes the pilot, mechanic, and aircraft support items.
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    I wondered about weight and balance with this cargo bin on the side. All items and personnel are carefully weighed and calculations are made with each configuration to ensure the aircraft is loaded within limits. Each day they also make density altitude calculations.
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    I was at one helitack base where the roster board showed each firefighters individual weight and their weights when rigged for action. This can be important when figuring out combinations of people and gear for a particular load.
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    A water bucket gets rigged beneath the helicopter.
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    You might also notice two tie down points for the lines that will haul people on a line beneath the helicopter. Two connections for safety. The tie downs have electric and manual quick releases.
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    An alert crew is set and the helicopter is loaded and ready to go on short notice.
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    There is a single pilot, an observer, and two firefighters on board.
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    While we were chatting this Robinson flew by.
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    There is some cargo storage on the aircraft and as I mentioned weight and balance need to be carefully accounted for. I think some iPad pilot programs will show changes to weight an balance as fuel is burned along the way.
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    She showed me how to rig the lines beneath the helicopter. I asked her what would happen if the pilot lost power while they were hanging beneath the helicopter. It was obvious to me that some people involved probably weren't going to survive.
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    Some knucklehead might ask "What is with these wimmen fighting fires?" We went through the same evolution in the military - should women be on the guns hefting 100 lb projectiles around? As always, we should be dealing with the individual's capabilities and not try to sort things by gender or something else.

    These firefighters are well conditioned and well trained to get the job done.
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    Sometimes helitack crews get a comfortable ride to the fire via helicopter, but they might also have to hike out over tough terrain carrying 90 pounds of gear with them. Physical training methods (group/individual) varied among the bases I visited. This crew opted for group PT with a 3-5 mile run each day along with other conditioning exercises. Strength and endurance are required to operate for extended periods fighting fires.
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    Some of their physical training stuff.
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    Equipment shed. They have some blivets here that are collapsible water containers that can be delivered to help work a fire.
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    I was at one base where a guy had been a sawyer on a hotshot crew. He spoke with a high regard for the crew chainsaws. It reminded me of a machinegunner that carefully and thoroughly kept his weapon maintained and ready. I guess the saw would be similar to a squad automatic weapon (SAW) as compared to the hand tools others carry.
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    Inside a mobile command post trailer.
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    Heli-torch. The crew mixes napalm and rigs this tank and pump beneath a helicopter. The pilot then pumps burning fuel from the air to start back burns and the like. I wondered about pilot qualifications to operate in these various roles (heli-torch, water drops, short-haul). I talked to a pilot that told me that these are sign-offs that are good for a certain period. A government pilot evaluates them on their skill. The crew also has a launcher that shoots something that looks like ping-pong balls to start fires. This can be done from the air, the ground, and now even from a drone. The balls have a chemical inside. When the launcher shoots the ball it injects another chemical that will cause combustion in about 30 seconds. This works well for remote areas or to fill in burns in spots that can't be reached.
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    The crews have thorough knowledge of all of these systems so they can do the job no matter who is on site. Crews also have a regular schedule of inspection and maintenance of their equipment to ensure readiness at all times.
    #73
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  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    #74
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  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Continued

    On to Cody

    If I didn't mention it already, some of this involves the Centennial Scenic Byway.

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    Clouds still stuck to the Tetons.
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    About an 800' climb up signal mountain for some views.
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    Worth it.
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    They figured out that a 5.5 earthquake would take this dam out so they had to make some major alterations.
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    I hope they use the crosswalks.
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    National Park Service EMS.
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    When Yellowstone last burned in a major way, it burned in kind of a patchwork pattern instead of a complete burn. Burning in this fashion produces some benefits to wildlife.
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    You go in nd out of burned and unburned sections.
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    I went through Yellowstone twice this trip . . . and it was a pain in the neck both times.
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    Extremely long lines. Not good on a motorcycle. It took a long time to get this close to the entry point. I don't know how they expect people to enjoy these parks with all these people enjoying them. :evil
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    Road construction slowed things down as well.
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    #75
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  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Continued

    On to Cody

    Blackwater Fire Fatalities

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    A lightning strike in 1937 started the Blackwater Fire. Fifteen firefighters were killed when the winds picked up and changed direction. Nine died right away and six others died later from burns or respiratory complications. Thirty-eight more were injured. The fire killed more professional wildland US firefighters than any other in the 103 years between the Great Fire of 1910 and the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013.
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    At the time, good weather forecasting and radio communication were pretty scarce. One thing that came out of this tragedy was a relook at the ways the forest service went after fires. This led to the development of the smoke jumper program in 1939. No tankers or heli-drops here. These guys had a couple of water pumps and some backpack water tanks. No shelters, no Nomex clothes . . . they had pack horses and hand tools.
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    When a group of about 40 firefighters became entrapped, they sought refuge on a small rocky outcrop. It was difficult to keep people from panicking as they tried to dodge the worst of the fire without protective equipment. Five men tried to run through the flaming front to get to safety on the other side. Only one of them survived.
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    There is a trail here that takes you to points of interest related to the fire, entrapment, and rescue operations.
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    There is also a staff ride packet for this site.
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    Not the best video but is shows some pictures from back in the day.
    #76
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  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Continued

    On to Cody

    Smith Mansion
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    "After a massive fire on Rattlesnake Mountain, much of the timber in the area was left up for grabs for anyone able to lug it away. Smith had a truck and two strong arms, so he started loading up — and he never stopped. At first, he just wanted to build a comfortable, livable home for himself and his family out of cheap-as-free wood. But once that was done, the project just seemed to grow. And grow. And grow. Soon, the twisting, towering building was home to a magical dining hall with an enormous stump for a table and several smaller stumps for dining chairs. Its upper stories sprouted viewing platforms; its lower levels developed living spaces with evocative names like "the hot room" and "the cold room." In the winter, the family would hang out by the wood-burning stove of the former; in the summer, they'd relax in the cooler temperatures of the latter room, which was built into the hillside."

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    Tour the dam if you like. Can't see it from downstream vantage points. There is a 2.8 mile long tunnel to move water tied in with this thing. Two tunnel workers died from hydrogen sulfide gas form natural geothermic activity in the area.
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    I could smell the river . . . and it smelled bad.
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    There is a monument here to Liver Eating Johnson. You can read that story yourself. Bob Redford's Jeremiah Johnson is based on this guy. [​IMG]

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    This place has old guns that were found along the trails.
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    Fred Remington, Annie Oakley, and Calamity Jane stayed at Bill's place.
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    I think this place sells long guns in addition to pistols.
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    #77
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  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Day 6 Continued

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    Heart Mountain Relocation Center
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    This is one of ten concentration camps for the internment of Japanese Americans evicted from the West Coast Exclusion Zone during WWII. They constructed 650 military style barracks here. The place had a peak population of almost 11,000.
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    Interpretive center.
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    It amazes me how quickly these camps and military bases were put together with all the required infrastructure - sometimes in the middle of nowhere.

    Part of the old hospital.
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    Some were allowed to join the military.
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    Joe Hayashi was one of those. He earned the Medal of Honor.

    "Private Joe Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 20 and 22 April 1945, near Tendola, Italy. On 20 April 1945, ordered to attack a strongly defended hill that commanded all approaches to the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi skillfully led his men to a point within 75 yards of enemy positions before they were detected and fired upon. After dragging his wounded comrades to safety, he returned alone and exposed himself to small arms fire in order to direct and adjust mortar fire against hostile emplacements. Boldly attacking the hill with the remaining men of his squad, he attained his objective and discovered that the mortars had neutralized three machine guns, killed 27 men, and wounded many others. On 22 April 1945, attacking the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi maneuvered his squad up a steep, terraced hill to within 100 yards of the enemy. Crawling under intense fire to a hostile machine gun position, he threw a grenade, killing one enemy soldier and forcing the other members of the gun crew to surrender. Seeing four enemy machine guns delivering deadly fire upon other elements of his platoon, he threw another grenade, destroying a machine gun nest. He then crawled to the right flank of another machine gun position where he killed four enemy soldiers and forced the others to flee. Attempting to pursue the enemy, he was mortally wounded by a burst of machine pistol fire. The dauntless courage and exemplary leadership of Private Hayashi enabled his company to attain its objective. Private Hayashi's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army."

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    Likewise, James Okubo was from here and he also earned the Medal of Honor.

    "Technician Fifth Grade James K. Okubo distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 28 and 29 October and 4 November 1944, in the Foret Domaniale de Champ, near Biffontaine, eastern France. On 28 October, under strong enemy fire coming from behind mine fields and roadblocks, Technician Fifth Grade Okubo, a medic, crawled 150 yards to within 40 yards of the enemy lines. Two grenades were thrown at him while he left his last covered position to carry back wounded comrades. Under constant barrages of enemy small arms and machine gun fire, he treated 17 men on 28 October and 8 more men on 29 October. On 4 November, Technician Fifth Grade Okubo ran 75 yards under grazing machine gun fire and, while exposed to hostile fire directed at him, evacuated and treated a seriously wounded crewman from a burning tank, who otherwise would have died. Technician Fifth Grade James K. Okubo's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army."

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    Norman Mineta was locked up here as well. He later became Secretary of Transportation under George W. Bush and Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton.

    The place had the usual services.
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    They grew a lot of food.
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    Non-Japanese ran the place but Japanese participated in government. This is a meeting of local block leaders.
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    The high school. Dances, athletic programs, and the like.
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    The place was guarded by MPs but Japanese internees were part of the police and fire departments.
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    Eventually the Supreme Court ended this stuff. Relocating people from the camp was ugly. Some had no place to return to. Wyoming passed an alien land law that shut these people out as well.
    #78
    Shaggie, swimmer, chudzikb and 3 others like this.
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    33,505
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Day 6 Continued

    Coal towns.

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    Bear creek also hosts pig races and the state's largest gathering of falconers. Hard to believe they once had concrete sidewalks and a water system . . . but no churches.
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    I was surprised at how much remained.
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    Out of 77 in the mine, only three got out and survived. 30 men were killed instantly by the explosion and the rest either suffocated or died of injuries. The explosion was deep underground and was not heard at the mouth of the mine. It did knock a 20T locomotive off its tracks 1/4 mile from the detonation. The explosion was thought to be because of methane gas building up in the mine. Miners were allowed to smoke down there.
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    Looking down the valley at those old coal towns.
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    Coal and gold. An expert on closed captioning is from here . . . as you may have read in the subtitles.
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    In 1896 Red lodge had 20 saloons and riotous living.
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    When the depression forced some mines to close, people here started making liquor that was sold as far away as Chicago and San Francisco.
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    #79
    Shaggie, bomose, chudzikb and 5 others like this.
  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    33,505
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Day 6 Continued

    Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

    Beartooth
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    This road opened in 1936. Because of snow, it is usually only open from mid-May to mid-October.
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    Chuck Kuralt called it the most beautiful drive in America.
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    Phil Sheridan and 120 of his troops crossed this pass back in 1872. The road pretty much follows Phil's route.
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    In 2005 a bunch of mudslides and rock slides closed the road for a year or so. They had to remove a lot of rock and do some beefing up of the roadway in some places.
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    Nice views . . . but still not at the top.
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    #80
    editor, kleinergti1, Shaggie and 6 others like this.