As we worked our last day on The Mound, the packers had brought in our weekly resupply. In a normal season, they wouldn’t have brought any supplies in on this trip. They would have come in empty to load all of our camp gear and packed us out. Since NPS was staying, they brought in a normal resupply. Well…they did have a few extra goodies on this trip.
When we got back to camp after work, Moose gathered us around for a little talk.
“This has been a summer totally unlike any other summer I’ve seen in the Backcountry. This has been unlike any summer I’ve ever heard of—fires, sewers, search and rescue. So many people quitting. People getting hurt. People doing really stupid things and getting fired. Wow. Just incredible.”
“But you guys are still here. You guys have made it. I’m proud of all you guys. You’ve done yourselves proud and you deserve something a little extra for that. I got to blow off a little steam at Trail’s End. Well, you guys can blow off a little extra steam tonight.”
“I had the packers bring in a couple of cases of beer, and some two-liter wine coolers. Enjoy. But stay safe, don’t get stupid, and don’t get hurt!”
I looked at Glen. Glen looked at Mark. Mark looked at Anne. Nobody said a word. One of the constants in the world of the CCC was the “No drugs or alcohol” rule. That was one of the Big Five rules that could get you fired. We knew that people could work around that rule with a little simple discretion, but here we had a C1 telling us to go ahead.
Wayne asked, “Seriously?”
“This is a one time, never to be repeated, extenuating circumstances offer.”
Glen said, “Whoa!”
The alcohol sat untouched through dinner. We knew Moose wasn’t trying to set us up, but the “No drugs or alcohol” training had been pretty much set in concrete. Almost everybody had participated in either discrete drinking or toking during off hours and away from camp, but seeing the beer and wine coolers right there in camp was bizarre.
Our last night of washing Backcountry dishes was a fun time. Everybody was in the line and our spirits were high…so to speak.
Glen piped up with his usual, “Last chance right here! I’ll jump in the dish pit for a hundred dollars.”
Wayne said, “You aren’t ever going to jump into that pit, so just knock it off.”
“I will! One hundred dollars, payable when we get out to a town with a bank, and I will take a dive. I know you would all love to see me do it!”
I’d had enough. “I’ll pay you fifty dollars cash right now to jump into the dish pit.”
“You don’t have fifty dollars!” Glen shot back.
“I’ll be right back.” I went to our tent and dug out fifty dollars I still had left from my week in civilization. By the time I got back out, they were finished washing the dishes. I counted the bills out for Glen.
“Twenty. Forty. Fifty. Fifty dollars cash for you to take a dive right now.”
Glen said, “Whoa!”
Wayne’s hand shot in the air and he said, “I’ll do it!”
“Nope. The offer’s only open for Mister Big-mouth. Put up or shut up.”
Glen said, “Whoa!” and walked over to the campfire. He grabbed a beer and opened it.
“Getting some liquid courage there, huh, Glen?” said Mark.
I continued, “And I want to get my money’s worth. You have to go all the way in. I don’t want to see the top of your head or the soles of your boots.”
Boy, did that spark some excitement around the campfire! The look on Glen’s face was priceless as he tried to think of a face saving way out of this.
There wasn’t any.
After about ten minutes of excited, “C’mon, Glen! Do it!” from around the campfire, the excitement started to wane.
Moose said, “Come on, Glen. Either you do it, or you don’t.”
Glen grabbed another beer.
I thought it was time to up the ante a little.
“Every five minutes you wait, starting now, I’m gonna knock five dollars off your money.”
That got everybody fired up again! Glen downed his beer. He set his face and strode to the dish pit.
“He’s gonna do it! He’s gonna do it!”
Glen took a deep breath and then held his nose. He hopped down into the dish pit! The greasy water splashed around his knees. Waves shot out from him, hit the pit walls, and ran back towards him. He went down on his knees, and, still holding his nose, fell forward, all the way into the dish pit. I could not see the top of his head, or the soles of his feet. The crew cheered!
Glen came out of the water and climbed out of the dish pit. He shook the spaghetti-red, greasy water off as best he could and looked directly at me. I applauded and shot him a thumbs up. He threw his chest out and his shoulders back and roared, “OHH-RAH!” I handed him his fifty dollars and he went off to our tent to change his clothes.
All of the hesitation over the alcohol broke loose. The beer was handed out. The wine coolers were opened. And life was good.
I went to find Glen. He had washed up and changed his clothes. His hair was still kinda greasy from the bilge water. He grinned when he looked up and saw me. He said, “It sounds pretty loud out there.”
“Yeah. I think your dive was just what the doctor ordered to loosen everybody up and get the party started.”
“Then we did good!” Glen stuck his hand out. I grabbed it and pulled him into a bro-hug.
Disclaimer here, this is not how every backcountry season comes to an end or is it sanctioned by the CCC. However, everyone lived up to their word. No one did anything stupid and no one got hurt. We had a good time as one of the strangest BC seasons wound to a close. Fortunately, I’m retired now.
You wrote this so well, I am teared up! 🙂