SMOKE JUMPING

As you know we have been camping in Eastern Washington for a week now and have been running away from the forest fires. Before we were evacuated from Twisp we had visited the Smokejumpers complex just outside of Winthrop. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to post that story.

Oh by the way we are safely ensconced at the Suncrest Resort in Moses Lake and there are no fires around!

While in Twisp we decided to visit the birth place of smoke jumping just outside of Winthrop, called the “North Cascades Smoke Jumpers Base”, it’s where, in 1939, Francis Lufkin developed the “smokejumper’s” technique’s that are still practiced today throughout the country. In the United States there are some 400 smokejumpres spread over nine bases.

They are “undeniably the most highly trained and fastest deployable wildland firefighters available today.”

Ironically we visited the base in the midst of five forest fires around our campground and the Twisp area. There were almost no smokejumpers at the base as they were all out fighting the fires but Jason Ramos, one of the remaining firefighter’s on standby, gave us a great tour of the facility and shared many stories about the smokejumpers with us. Since then the fires have merged and become the Carlton Complex Fire burning 238,000 acres and is zero percent contained at this time.

The following pictures are from the base but sadly without nearly as much narrative as Jason provided.

We knew we had arrived when we saw the welcome sign.

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The first thing you see as you approach the buildings is the “Birthplace of Smokejumping” sign.

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Underneath it reads:

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First stop was the parachute packing building. This sign caught my eye as the bird’s wings were made from gloves.

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Inside Jason explained the protective jump suit to Marilyn. What’s most interesting is that the firefighters all sew their own special clothing. The suit they wear when jumping has Kevlar in it which protects them from tree branches and such when parachuting into treed terrain.

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There were long tables used for folding and packing their parachutes. Everyone packed parachutes for anybody and not just their own.

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Here Jason is explaining everything that they “jump” with when going into a fire.

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We went to the building where they prepare all the other equipment that gets dropped along with them. It’s things like chainsaws, buck saw, food, water and much more. This pallet contains everything they should need and it will all be dropped to them once they are safely on the ground. It gets dropped from around  500 feet in the air.

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Ten smokejumpers and all this gear go into their CASA C-212-CC.

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The cockpit is very small but leaves lots of room for the troops.

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The seats are for the smokejumpers and the equipment goes behind the cargo net.

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While walking around there were many other “assets” being deployed to fight the fires including this big helicopter with the water drop bag hanging underneath.

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I thought this sign sort of said it all about the smokejumpers.

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We’d really like to thank Jason for such a great tour and especially thank all the men and women off the “Smokejumpers” for all they do to help protect the people and property in the path of these forest firers.

A DAY IN TWISP

Yesterday we spent the better part of the day in Twisp. It’s a really small, quaint, town that has two main streets. One is the highway and the other is one block over. If you ever visit Twisp be sure to visit both, there are interesting things all around.

NOTE: You can click on any of the images to make them bigger.

But first some fire news. There are three forest fires withing eight miles of us and it’s been quite smokey and even raining ash.

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There are helicopters flying overhead most of the day with buckets full of water.

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This was the view from our campground at sunset last night.

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Just to show how dramatic it was this was around 10:30 last night just after it turned dark.

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Now onward to Twisp.

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Like I mentioned, Twisp is a two street town and this is the street that’s off the highway.

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Here are some photos of things I found interesting while walking around town.

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We had lunch at the Twisp River Pub and the food was good. Their brewed beer wasn’t all that good but I had a Moose Drool from Montana and it was excellent!

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Although it was around 102 degrees F we made the best of it and had a good time. We visited the Community Center and learned about the history Twisp and the area. Did you ever wonder where the name “Twisp” came from? It was an Indian word for “Yellow Jacket”, who knew?

I’m going to post a second blog this morning with photos from my walk so you can join me there.

METHOW VALLEY

Yesterday we left for points east and traveled the North Cascades Highway. It’s a beautiful trip that everyone should travel at least once in their lifetime. We stopped for a photo opp at the entrance to the park.

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Here is a little bit of what you see along the way.

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It was a toasty 100 degrees F when we arrived at Riverbend RV Part just outside of Twisp.

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It’s located in the beautiful Methow Valley. That’s pronounced “Met-how”, you don’t say the “th” together like you might ‘th’ink. The campground is located right on the Methow River. This is the river this morning as I was starting my morning walk.

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That’s right folks I did walk this morning and I hope you are walking with me because it was a beautiful morning. The temperature cooled down to a very pleasant 61 degrees but it’s supposed to top out at over 103 today, ouch!

Here are some shots of the Methow Valley area as we walk along the highway.

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Unfortunately all this heat and dry weather is causing some very large forest fires. This appears to be a brand new one that’s starting up just to the north of our campground.

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I was being watched as I walked by. It’s nice to have company so early in the morning.

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This is looking down on our campground toward the Methow River.

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Bug Test! Apparently they are doing some sort of bug test around here to see how many and what kind of bugs are in the area. It’s basically “fly paper” with a grid.

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As many of you know my 73 year old brother Ron is traveling the same roads as we are but on a fully loaded bicycle. After going over the passes yesterday and the narrow hot roads along the Methow Valley I have to say he’s either my “hero” or a complete “idiot”!! This is one of the roads he rode on and you can see how narrow he shoulder’s are. Oh yeah, the speed limit along here is 60 MPH, Holy Crap! Better him than me. The good news is that he leaves each morning very early and stops well before noon.

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And with that I’ll leave you to your “Hump Day”. Thanks for walking with me and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.