After the Last Big Blast on Friday, Jose, Rollie, and Corey decided to hike down the canyon to Yosemite Valley for a taste of civilization.
On Saturday, only Corey came back.
I think it’s best to relate the story the way we heard it from Corey on Saturday night.
The three of them were headed out of camp in good spirits. The end of the season was only a couple of weeks away…so close, we could all taste it. Rollie was really excited. He kept saying “We made it! We made it!”
However, this was Jose’s second season on a Backcountry crew. He was a veteran and knew that a lot could happen in the last few weeks of a season. He cautioned Rollie by saying “It ain’t over til the fat lady sings.”
They found a place to camp and got cleaned up for a night out on the town. Yosemite Valley does have some establishments catering to the night life crowd. Corey said the evening had been progressing nicely over beer and hanging out with the beautiful people in Yosemite Valley. Considering they had no place to go in the morning, Jose and Rollie were knocking back the beer.
Everything was going fine until Rollie took a long, long look at Jose, reared up, and hit Jose in the face.
At this point, we broke into Corey’s story. “Were they arguing?”
“Oh, come on. There must have been something said or done that got out of hand.”
Nothing. Corey insisted that nothing had happened. One minute they were buddies, the next minute Rollie was knocking Jose out of his chair. It even took Jose a few moments to realize what was going on. Rollie had knocked Jose out of his chair and was on top of him before Jose started defending himself.
Corey, not being a fighter, and also being a lot smaller than either Jose or Rollie, hollered at them to stop a few times, but there was no way he was going to jump in to try to break them up. Before long, NPS Rangers, the cops of Yosemite, were running into the place. Corey backed away and made himself as inconspicuous as possible as the rangers broke up the fight, threw handcuffs on Rollie and Jose, and hustled them out.
“I have to get Moose!”
Moose got another hike down to Yosemite Valley. She was not happy.
Moose came back to camp with Jose. Rollie had already been fired and given a one way bus ticket out of Yosemite Valley, the price of which would be deducted from his final paycheck. Jose was being fired, too. Remember the Big Five rules that would get a Corpie automatically fired? The one about “No fighting”? There was no other choice. Jose got a chance to gather his gear up from camp, though. When he got into camp, he pulled up a folding camp chair by the fire and sat down to rest for a minute. He was quiet and still looked dazed from the fight. One eye was swollen almost completely shut. His face had cuts and scratches. His lips were swollen and cracked.
The only question we had was, “Why?”
The only answer he had was, “I still don’t know.”
As I walked away with Wayne, I could only think that I had been scheduled to fight Rollie in a couple of weeks if we hadn’t cleared up our issues earlier in Cheryl’s group discussion. Jose was bigger and a much more capable fighter that I could ever be. If Rollie had done that to Jose…
I said to Wayne, “Man, I’m glad we called off Mather.”
Wayne chuckled and said, “I bet you are!”