I had the cool opportunity to visit McCall, Idaho, this week. One of my former bosses is now the Forest Supervisor of the Payette NF, headquartered in McCall, and I spent the week shadowing various people (supervisor, district rangers, program leaders, staff officers) in their work. I was also the recipient of excellent and gracious hospitality from my former boss and his wife, who was also my co-worker 10 years ago.
McCall is at the southern edge of Payette Lake and is very touristy — one of those towns that doubles in size during the summer. They have long, snowy winters, but man, the summer sure seems nice. We had a cold front flow through while I was there that brought the temps down to a high between 65 and 70 (low of 41). Seemed a bit cold to be swimming in the lake, but I saw plenty of people braving the temperatures. They also have this chalkboard on the beach where people can share their thoughts about their own bucket lists, I guess.
Keith and I took a drive up the Lick Creek drainage and were rewarded with some great vistas. This area burned in 1994, which created some great open views of the mountains. The white whispy plants are beargrass.
Keith and Karen have a 7-year-old son Bryce, who plays on a summer soccer league. Apparently, Keith has taught him the most important thing: elbow your opponents in the face when things aren’t going well. I guess that’s better than teaching him to bite his opponent, ala Luis Suarez. Unfortunately, the agony of defeat was just about all Bryce could handle.
I spent two hours touring and meeting employees in the McCall Smokejumper Base. That was a cool experience. The work these people do is pretty awesome. They get called out to the very early stages of some fires, get on a plane, and then parachute down to the mountain — with their gear (chainsaws, pulaskis, shovels, food, water, etc.) — and provide the early initial attack efforts on wildfires. Talk about a rush. After each jump, the chutes are hung in this tower and inspected very carefully. If they find defects, they mend the chutes themselves to make them airworthy again.