- April 26, 2016
- Posted by Becca Waldo
March came in like a lamb and is heading out like a lion. Daily snow showers and cold in the past weeks came on the heels of balmy weather. Late February and the early parts of this month teased us with sunny days, warm temperatures, and rapid snow melt. The mid-winter thaw got us GY FCLs chomping for the bit for some fresh air and exercise. As Ishmael might say: we were looking to drive off the spleen and regulate the circulation. Our staff sensed our spring fever, our yearning to be at sea. Though there was still much work and training to be done in and around the office, they devised a plan to get us going. What a treat. Perhaps they too were ready to take to the ship. And with that I will end the extended metaphor.
Our first day back in town after WAFA training, something new was on the schedule: a Rec day! My initial interpretation upon seeing this on the calendar was that it would be a day spent in the parking lot around our office playing games: four square, knockout, three-legged races, parachute games… I anticipated a day of middle school gym class activities.
When I found out we would actually spend that day hiking, I felt both elated and like a simpleton. Of course we were recreating by hiking- this is a Conservation Corps, after all! Do we even have a parachute at the office? We piled into rigs and took off for a trail head. We walked, we talked, and we worked on some more of our LDP curriculum. We practiced institutional hiking, moving at a “good clip” (as our FC Zach would say) while making sure the group stayed together. We worked up a sweat and breathed deep the fresh air, achieving John Denver’s much sought after “Rocky Mountain High.”
That first week we scaled Hogback Ridge, a narrow elevated slice of land in the midst of the Paradise Valley. The following week took us into Gallatin Gateway and up to Storm Castle, where breathtaking vistas of snow-capped peaks greeted us. A week later we wound our way around State Park lands, amid the rolling above-ground hills of the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Our last Rec Day before saw training, we FCLs were set loose, hiking along the banks of the Madison River in the wilderness of Bear Trap Canyon without any staff supervision.
On that hike in Bear Trap Canyon we joked about how it was our first real test of independence as FCLs. Caity and Joe, our leaders of the week, did an excellent job of organizing logistics and keeping us together. We had a safety memo at a stream crossing, did a lesson about community activism, checked out some beautiful vistas during the hike, and made it back to the rigs with ample time.
Upon reaching the parking lot we thought we had some time to kill. We stretched and joked around until Teague, with his laser-beam eyes, noticed that one of the rigs had a flat tire! “But, HOW?!” we all wondered, some silently, some aloud. “Did someone slash the tire maliciously?” No, no compromises in tire integrity to be found. “Could it have been the washboard-gravely ride in that somehow reduced the tire pressure to <5 PSI?” Likely, but we hoped for more conspiracy in the theory. “Did someone from the office drive all the way out here, let some air out of the tire, then drive off into the sunset, just to test our ability to problem solve, trouble shoot, and work together as a team?!” This, the least likely of scenarios, was by far the most appealing answer to an otherwise pointless question.
It was settled. This was a test from the office. All that remained was to use our divine powers of NASCAR-level mechanic-ry to get the spare on and be ready to go. Guided by our fearless friend and co-leader Dave (who basically grew up in an auto garage) and driven by the initiative of the masses, we banded together and got a properly inflated tire on the rig for the rugged drive out.
At first we planned to keep this incident secret. We all convinced ourselves so well that the unlikely cause to the flat- our FC Heidi driving 3 hours round trip to let some air out- was definitely what happened. Our devious minds as FCLs assumed that the devious minds of the office already knew, and we didn’t want them to call our bluff. We walked into the office with nothing to report- a great day was had by all on the banks of the Madison. No strife, no complications. We kept this farce going for at least 5 minutes, until someone blew our cover. We confessed about the flat, and bragged with some humility about our cohesiveness in changing it. Heidi was game to play along with our fantastical scenario. She confessed to our invention of her crime, and gamely added even more elements to it- like parking her rig to hide her criminal actions of deflation from the fisherpeople in the parking lot. Much joy was derived from this flat tire incident.
As we embark on the month of April, we are about halfway through our LDP. Seven weeks down, seven to go until members arrive. We still have a lot to do and a lot to learn and a lot to experience, but the stoke is high. How do I know? Because we were laughing, working, collaborating, and imagining in a gravel parking lot, at the end of a hike, while jacking up a 2009 Yukon XL, and removing lug nuts. Though not what I anticipated (I really had my sights set on tether ball tournaments), Rec Days have been a great way to prep for the season ahead.
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