CCC

Two More Down

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?”

“No.”

“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!”

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The Last Blast

The end of the season was rapidly approaching after Labor Day. Only two weekends remained before the end of the season. We still had a long way to go on The Mound and the leach field, but we started to tie up the loose ends of other aspects of the project.

Snyder was through blasting, but he still had a good amount of explosives left in his Vogelsang shot locker. They didn’t like to pack explosives out of the Backcountry. Movement of explosives was just too great a hazard. Every time it had to be taken out of the shot locker, loaded onto a mule, transported, unloaded off the mule, and stored somewhere else there was always a risk of an accident. It was better for everybody if we could just find a way to use it at Vogelsang.

Snyder and Marty decided to get a whole lot of fill added to The Mound at one time. The draft horse, Tony, was still around with the stone boat. We helped load huge rocks onto to the stone boat to be dumped onto The Mound. When we had The Mound loaded with huge rocks, Snyder and his crew set to work placing the three hundred pounds of remaining ANFO all over the rocks. ANFO is a fairly common high explosive made up of Ammonium Nitrate (fertilizer) and Fuel Oil…hence, ANFO. ANFO was discovered accidentally after World War Two when a freighter loaded with fertilizer blew up at a dock in Texas City, Texas and destroyed most of the harbor facilities around the city. Somehow the fertilizer accidentally got mixed with some fuel oil and ignited.

When the charges were placed, the det cord was laid out. The rocks looked pretty freaky with plastic bags full of ANFO stuck on them all over the place and held in place with mud, and chained together with lime green det cord. The final connections were not made until everybody was out of the danger zone. We all remembered the road worker who had been killed on a blast earlier that summer. He was outside the danger perimeter for the size blast the road crew was doing. He was where he was supposed to have been. However, a freak piece of fly rock had still hit him in the head just below the rim of his hard hat and killed him instantly.

Snyder wanted to play it safe and posted us as trail guards a half a mile away, well beyond the recommended safety radius. And that wasn’t all. He wanted everybody to be behind hard cover. I guarded the trail down to Merced Lake with Glen. We found a big rock bench to hunker down behind. All of the trail guards radioed “Ready!” when each team got in place. When all of the teams had checked in and Snyder replied “Copy ready,” we all switched our radios off. We did not want a stray radio signal to detonate the explosives prematurely. Snyder and his crew hooked up the det cord to the plunger and backed up to their safe spot, which was a lot closer than we were.

Glen and I knew all of this was happening, but with our comm off, we had no idea when the blast was actually going to go off. It seemed to take forever. Then we felt a jolt through the ground, and a few seconds later heard a huge BOOM.

Glen said,”Wow. And that was a half mile away.”

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Sleeping Bags

Your sleeping bag is a very important piece of equipment on a trail crew. It can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep, and adding to the exhaustion that you are already going to experience working harder than you ever have before. It might even mean the difference between frostbite or not.

I had a North Face Bigfoot. When I was buying gear for my summer in Yosemite, the Bigfoot was all the rage. Not everybody had one, but it seemed like everybody raved over how awesome they were. I bought mine at The North Face Outlet in Berkeley. It was a ‘second’, which meant that it had some sort of cosmetic factory defect that prevented North Face from selling it at full value. I received a good discount on the price, and it was a fully functional bag. It was rated to -5°F, which meant that it was ‘guaranteed’ to preserve your body heat at temperatures down to five degrees below zero Fahrenheit. This was a limited ‘guarantee’ (in quotes) because everybody sleeps differently. What might keep one person warm at zero degrees might not keep a ‘cold sleeper’ warm at thirty degrees.

My bag was also a ‘long’. It was designed longer for tall people. I’m not tall, so according to conventional sleeping bag wisdom, the extra length would be extra space for my body heat to keep warm and therefore not very efficient. I figured the extra foot space would be helpful for stuffing clothes down into to keep them warm for the next day. It worked. I really loved my sleeping bag.

My Bigfoot’s design limits were not tested in Yosemite. Apart from that one Arctic front that came through at the end of July, we had pretty mild weather all summer in Yosemite. My bag got tested the next year, 1988, on a regular CCC trails spike on Orleans Mountain in the Klamath Mountains. Our spike was the first week of June, and one morning we woke to find ourselves buried under about eighteen inches of snow. We were snowed in for four days before the four wheel drive vehicles could get in to bring us out. I stayed snug in my two-person backpacking tent and my Bigfoot. It worked like a champ.

My bag’s biggest test came the next year, 1989, in Kings Canyon National Park. We had a spike camp on Glenn Pass late in September. Now that was cold. We didn’t have a thermometer, so I have no idea how cold it actually got. I do know that water was frozen solid every morning. I also know that my trusty, dependable -5° bag did not keep me warm. In fairness to the Bigfoot, it was two years old and likely had lost some loft…the ‘fluffiness’ of the insulation that helps retain heat…but I have never been so cold as on those nights at Glenn Pass sleeping in the cook tent, trying to pile boxes and produce around my bag to improve the insulation.

These lessons learned handed down to another generation of trail workers. When I was a C-1 at Delta Center in Stockton, I took the Corpsmembers who had been selected for the Backcountry program on a supply buying trip to Berkeley. The salespeople kept trying to push ‘summer’ bags on the Corpies. Summer bags are only rated to about 40°. They are not even close to being adequate for serious trail crew equipment. A couple of the Corpsmembers seemed on the verge of the summer bags because of cost and weight. I asked them, “Do you know where you’re going to be in September?”

Their only possible reply was, “No.”

“It gets pretty cold at ten thousand feet in September. If you buy the summer bag, you are gambling on where you are going to be when it turns cold.”

They all bought the better bags. After the season, I heard back from some of them “Thank you for pushing the better bag!”

I still have my Bigfoot, twenty-seven years later. It doesn’t go on the trail anymore. The zipper blew out about ten years ago. The outer shell is torn in a couple of places. It mainly gets rolled out when the kids have friends sleeping over, or if I am going somewhere overnight and I’m not sure of the lodging accommodations. One thing is for sure…it’s not being tossed out into the trash.

Trail dust is thicker than blood.

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Mountain Rush

One day after dinner, I wanted to see what radio stations I could find with my Walkman. I walked up the lower slopes of Vogelsang Peak until I was clear of the trees. I sat down on a rock and began searching the airwaves.

Before long, I tuned into some cool synthesizer and drum riff. I stopped there figuring I had found a rock station. After the drums, the bass kicked in. Very nice bass line! Melodic. It reminded of something Rush might do, but I did not recognize the song. The more I listened to the bass, the more I thought “This sure sounds like Rush.”

Then the vocal started. Definitely Geddy Lee! Unmistakable! Still, this was a Rush song I had never heard, and I thought I had heard everything by them. I just kicked back and enjoyed the ride. I applauded when the song finished. The DJ said it was a single called ‘Force 10’ from their just released album Hold Your Fire.

Well, here was one cool thing to look forward to after the season!

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Hiking On the Clock

The NPS requires its trail crew members to hike a minimum speed of three miles an hour. Once you get in shape and acclimated to the altitude, three miles an hour is pretty easy to do. Five miles an hour is common with trail workers on the top of their game.

At the end of one day on the trail through Rafferty Meadows, Mark, Chris, Glen, Wayne, and I were clustered together hiking back to camp. We played different music trivia games on this hike. First we played The Alphabet Game with band names. The first person might say “Aerosmith”. The next person would say “Aerosmith, Beatles.” The next person would have to say all of the names already given, plus add one for the next letter in the alphabet.

When that game ran its course, we began a discussion of the state of contemporary music. The question under discussion was “Name a good band who had put out their first album since 1980.” The discussion was vigorously progressing when Moose caught up to us from behind.

Moose said, “Hey! Come on! You could hike faster than this!”

“Well, yeah, we could, but it’s the end of the day and we’re on our way home.” I’m not sure who actually said this. The cheekiness indicates that it was most likely either Mark or myself.

“Doesn’t matter. You’re on the clock. Let’s go! It doesn’t look good for all you young guys to be outhiked by a thirty year old woman with bad knees!”

We kicked it into gear and picked up the pace with Moose right behind us. We were hard-headed youth, though, and so as soon as our watches hit 4:00…quitting time…we dropped our pace back to a speed that would let us continue our discussion.

Moose almost crashed into us from behind. “Hey! Let’s go! Three miles an hour.”

“Well…it’s after four o’clock now and I’m hiking on my time. I don’t think we’re obligated to hike three miles an hour on our own time.”

“Aw, come on! You’re going to let a thirty year old woman with bad knees beat you back to camp?!”

“Yup. Today we are, anyway.”

“I don’t have anything to prove.”

“I’m secure in my masculinity.”

Moose spit on the ground as she passed us.

We never did come up with one good band active in 1987 who had released their first album since 1980.

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Stable Boy

Of course the packers said they could use a hand cleaning the stables. Moose headed back up the trail. I got to have dinner with the NPS trail workers at the trail crew housing. It was a fun time. They asked how my eye injury happened. I told them the corneas had gotten scratched by dust from a passing mule string. Brian said, “Huh. Must’ve been a Curry Company string. NPS mules don’t raise no dust!”

I got to spend the night in the stable’s loft. There was a bunk up there and a light. I had a paperback I’d picked up in Yosemite Valley called Wild Blue, a novel about the World War Two-through-post-Vietnam career of an Air Force fighter pilot.

The next day was the first time since Tuesday I had awaken without my eyes being crusted shut. It was also one of the most laid back work days I was to ever have in Yosemite. The packers showed me what they expected done during the day, and then they left me on my own for the day. There are two modes of working for the State. We usually operated in assholes-and-elbows mode. Rarely on a trail crew, though, did we get to use the ‘this-is-the-only-thing-that-needs-to-be-done-today-so-make-it-last-all-day’ mode. Today was one of those days. The stables were clean and ready for the mules to come in at the end of the day. And I made progress on Wild Blue!

After another dinner with the NPS crew and another night in the loft, I headed back down to Yosemite Valley on Saturday morning. I hadn’t owned a car since I had left Illinois just over a year prior. I hadn’t driven at all in that year. It was nice to be behind the wheel again. I hadn’t driven many places as beautiful as the Tioga Road through Yosemite National Park. Nothing in my life had prepared me for sights like the massive granite domes rising up from the far shore of Tenaya Lake.

As I drove along the shore of Tenaya Lake, I remembered that it was Labor Day weekend, the second and final three-day weekend in the Backcountry. I had missed a three day weekend hike on the first one because of KP. Right now several Yo2 crewmembers were setting out on a three day journey to Mt. Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite. I was going to miss this one, too. Oh, well. Getting mad hadn’t accomplished anything the last time. It wouldn’t do any good to get mad now. This was due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. I simply had to learn how to deal with life unfolding in ways other than what I had planned.

The doctors decided that my eyes were fine and gave me a release. Let’s see, now…Saturday in Yosemite Valley, with ‘my own’ wheels and no particular time table. What to do?

It was a good thing I was not a drinker, or I could have gotten myself into real trouble. As it was, I hung out at the Ansel Adams Gallery for a while, had lunch, and by then had had my fill of Yosemite Valley’s crowds.

I was back at Vogelsang in time for dinner.

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Down in the Valley Again

Since it was only the two of us, we left the crew van in Tuolumne and drove Moose’s personal truck down to Yosemite Valley. I didn’t have to wait very long to get into an exam room.

The doc, a younger guy, put some drops in my eyes to dilate the pupils. We had to wait a few minutes for them to dilate. I was wearing my dirty old trail clothes in their nice clean exam chair. My hair was long enough by now that I kept it out of my face with a bandana tied around my head. Yes, I was self-conscious in such a clean place!

The doc finally pulled a chair up close and looked at my eyes through a magnifier with an attached UV light. The drops had also added some luminescence to any irregularities in my eyes. After a while, he said, “Wel-l-l-l, I don’t think it is conjunctivitis. I see a tiny little scratch on one cornea that is infected, but I don’t see anything on the other eye that should be causing problems. Let me get the other doctor to give it a look.”

An older doctor came in and spent a few minutes looking. “Oh-h-h-h, yes-s-s. Ver-r-r-ry hard to see. Take a look at this,” he said as he stepped aside for the younger doctor. The younger doctor looked through the magnifier as the older doctor said, “Take a look at the superior edge of the iris. It almost matches the curve of the iris, so it is camouflaged in there.”

The younger doctor now saw it, too. Both corneas had infected scratches.

“Had you been hit in the eyes by anything in the couple of days before your eyes got weepy enough to crust over?”

“I don’t think so. I don’t remember anything like that.”

“Any unusual irritation to your eyes?”

I thought back. The only thing close to that as far as I could remember was getting a face full of dust from a passing mule string the previous Friday. I remembered rubbing my eyes harder than usual.

“That could well have been it. Well, we’ll get you some antibiotic drops for the infection. Apply them four times a day. We would like to see you back for a follow-up in a couple of days.”

“The clinic is open on Saturday?”

“Oh, yes. Just come back in so we can be sure we’ve solved the problem.”

Come back Saturday. Did that mean that Moose and I were going to have to hike back up to Vogelsang today, only to hike back down and do it all again on Saturday?

Moose, as always, had a plan. As we drove back to Tuolumne in the MOOSEX4, she asked me, “Can you drive a stick?”

“Sure. My first car was a VW Beetle.”

“OK, here’s the plan. We’ll see if the packers can use you to work around the stable tomorrow, and then you can drive my truck down to the Clinic on Saturday. Come back up to Vogelsang when you’re done.”

I was honored that Moose would trust me to drive her truck.

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And the Eyes Have It!

On Tuesday morning, my eyes wouldn’t open when I woke up. My eyelashes were crusted over and stuck together. The last time this had happened to me, I was seven and I had panicked. I didn’t panic this time, but simply groaned, “Aw-w-w-w, shit.” I hoped I did not have now what I’d had when I was seven.

Pink eye.

I got my eyes open after some careful rubbing and working the crust out. I went straight to Moose. Before I had even said anything, Moose saw my eyes and said, “Uh, oh.” She was thinking pink eye, too. Moose referred to the nearest medical opinion…Anne! Anne was a certified EMT. She thought it was pink eye, too.

This wasn’t looking good. Three out of three people with educated opinions thought it was pink eye. Moose remembered that the Sierra Club group still camped up at the High Sierra Camp had a doctor.

“Let’s go see if he takes drop-ins! Oh…and stay away from the dish line this morning.” One thing we knew for certain about pink eye is that it is highly contagious. Nobody even wanted to sit near me that morning.

Sure enough, the good Sierra Club doctor was happy to examine me. He only had rudimentary instruments, though. He could not make a certain diagnosis, and he thought it was likely to be pink eye, but he said it could also be a less contagious simple infection.

“I’d see if it clears up on its own. If it hasn’t cleared up by Thursday, you should go down to the clinic and have it checked.”

Thursday. I was doomed. Moose had hiked out several times already to deal with various issues. She had always had to hike out on a Thursday. We both knew this wasn’t going to be cleared up by Thursday, and Moose was going to have to hike out again.

The one good thing about my eye problem…with the specter of pink eye over me, nobody wanted me anywhere near the dish line! I had a legitimate three-day pass from washing dishes.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up with my eyes crusted shut. I think I worked The Mound that day. You don’t need to see very well to crush rock.

On Thursday morning, I woke up with my eyes crusted shut. Moose and I gathered our stuff for our hike down to Tuolumne. We hiked up past the High Sierra Camp and took the familiar left turn down the Rafferty Trail. We hadn’t gone far when we heard stock approaching from behind. Horses and mules spook easily, so protocol for hikers encountering them on the trail is to stand still on the uphill side of the trail and quietly let them go by. Moose and I moved off the trail to the uphill side and turned to watch the mules pass by.

It was a string of Curry Company mules. Curry was the concession that ran all of the ‘touristy’ stuff in Yosemite. This was a mule string running the High Sierra Camp loop. They were taking paying guests from Vogelsang to Tuolumne Meadows, and then to continue on tomorrow to the Glen Aulyn High Sierra camp.

I noticed that Moose had stuck out her thumb like a hitchhiker. I laughed and thought that was a great joke, so I stuck my thumb out, too.

The packer actually brought the mule string to a halt. Most of the mules had riders. A few of them had tarpped loads with all of their gear.

“Need a lift?” asked the packer, a young Hispanic lady as she pushed her Stetson up off her forehead.

“Got any extra saddles to Tuolumne?” Moose asked.

“It just so happens that a few people decided to hike down to Tuolumne today instead of ride, so I do. Back there.” The packer motioned back to the string.

I could not believe that I was actually hitchhiking a ride out of the Backcountry.

As we walked to our mules, Moose said, “This packer is a former Corpsmember that I know. I knew that if she had extra saddles, she’d let us ride.”

Seven miles is still the longest I’ve ever ridden in a saddle in one day.

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Sierra Clubbers

One thing was for sure about Yo2—we never got into any ruts with only one particular type of work. Except for maybe The Mound, of course!
At the end of August, a ranger-led group of Sierra Clubbers set up camp right by the High Sierra Camp. These were motivated outdoors lovers who had signed up and paid a lot of money to go camping and do some trail work. How many times during the summer had each one of us said “I can’t believe someone is paying me to be here and do this”? Now here were people who had paid top dollar to do exactly what we were being paid to do.

Well…not quite.

Russ Tenaka was the Backcountry ranger in charge of this Sierra Club group. Russ had been around our camp a lot on his patrols. Everybody liked him. He was a high school science teacher in the off-season. He had a great sense of humor and a lot of Backcountry experience. He knew Peter Lewis from way back. After he had gotten the Sierra Clubbers set up in their camp, he came down to our camp to talk to Erin and Moose. He wanted to borrow one Corpie a day for a few days to help him supervise the Sierra Clubbers. Erin and Moose thought it was a great idea. I got to be the first one to go.

The next morning I met the Sierra Club group behind the High Sierra Camp at the top of the trail heading east between Fletcher and Vogelsang peaks. Before we started work, Russ took me off to the side for instructions.

“OK, George, I know this is going to go against the grain of everything you’ve been trained to do, but I want you to do as little actual work as possible.”

I laughed. Russ laughed.

“Seriously,” he continued. “These folks have paid a lot of money to be here and work. I want to make sure they get their money’s worth. Your main job is to make sure nobody tries anything too heavy and gets hurt. We are just going to be doing light maintenance…rocking the trail and cleaning out water bars. I’ll be in front. You bring up the rear. Just keep an eye on people and make sure they don’t get hurt, and maybe do some final touch up as we go down the trail. Can you do that?”

“You bet! Do as little actual work as possible. I can do that!”

Russ laughed. I laughed.

It turned out that doing as little as possible was harder than it looked. I spent time showing people the best way to dig out drains with their shovels, or helping older folks wrestle big rocks out of the trail. I kept wanting to jump into ‘assholes-and-elbows’ mode and make it five miles down the trail. I had to patiently watch and wait and small talk with some genuinely good people.

It was an awesome day to be in the mountains!

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Blow Up

There is an odd ritual concerning loose uniform patches that led to losing one more member of Yo2.

OK…I get it that Corpsmembers are supposed to look professional at all times. When were we were issued our khaki shirts and given our CCC patches, those patches needed to be securely on your shirt when you reported to work the next morning. The left sleeve got the universal round CCC patch with your center’s name on a rocker across the top. Your right sleeve got your center’s logo patch. The patches needed to look professional. The nature of our work was pretty hard on uniforms, so it didn’t take long for the thread to start wearing thin and patches to start coming off. You were supposed to take care of things like that right away and report to work the next morning with your patches squared away. Some CCC centers, and some CCC crews, enforced this policy more diligently than others.

In the alleged spirit of enforcing this rule, sometimes a loose patch, or even a loose pocket, would be snatched by another Corpsmember and ripped completely off. The person who had ripped the patch off would say something like, “Oh, here. You need to fix this,” as he handed the patch back. (I think I can safely say he, not he/she. I think this type of behavior was mostly a guy thing. I don’t remember ever seeing a female do it.) Now the patch was in such bad shape that it couldn’t be ignored. The patch had to be back on the uniform the next morning.

I never did like this concept. As far as I was concerned, there was no legitimate reason to lay hands on another person like that. It was a totally chicken-shit, aggressive, and childish concern over spit-and-polish nonsense, and the point never really was to enforce the rule. The point was to humiliate the other Corpsmember and to show them up.

Well, on this one day at Vogelsang…

I’d had KP that day. It was another turkey day, the second time I’d had to cook one. The first time, I’d been sick as a dog and Vic had bailed me out. I was healthy this time, but I didn’t remember much from the last turkey I’d cooked. Vic bailed me out again, but this time he just talked me through. I did all of the work myself.

During the post-dinner wind-down and relaxation time around the camp fire, Vic spotted Glens hip pocket hanging half-way off. Glen was talking to Mark and Wayne with his back to the fire. Vic crept up behind Glen, snatched at the loose pocket, and yanked.

The pocket didn’t come off. It still held tight at the reinforced seam at the top. Vic had just pulled Glen backwards.

Several things happened simultaneously. Wayne, Mark, and I started to get up, saying, “Hey!” “Knock it off!” “Stop!”

Glen tried to turn to face Vic, but Vic held on to the pocket. With a wild gleam in his eye and a huge grin, Vic yanked at the pocket again. The pocket still didn’t come off, but Vic had pulled them closer to the camp fire and the two jungle cans full of hot water. Vic seemed oblivious to the fire behind them and readied to yank a third time.

Glen did see the fire. He kicked out with one foot and managed to knock Vic off of himself. Vic stumbled back but stayed on his feet. Fortunately, he had missed the fire and the boiling water. Vic was still unaware of the danger that he had put them both in. All he knew was that Glen had just showed him up and had made him look silly.

Glen turned to face Vic and stood with his arms wide open. Glen looked shocked and surprised and kept repeating, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

Vic rushed at Glen and smacked him with a right jab to the jaw. Glen made no move to defend himself. He took the punch, head rolling to one side with the blow, and then looked back at Vic with his arms still open wide and saying, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

Suddenly the lights seemed to come on for Vic. The CCC has Five Basic Rules. Violation of any one of them is cause for immediate termination. One of the Five Basic Rules is “No fighting.” Vic had just instigated this incident and thrown a punch. Vic stormed away from the camp fire. Glen kept repeating, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

We Corpsmembers around the fire looked around at each other with “What the hell just happened?!” looks. I went to find Vic.

He was easy to find. He was in his tent packing his gear.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m leaving.”

“Oh, come on, Vic.”

“I just have to get out of here.”

“Let’s go for a walk and calm down.”

“No. I have to go. I’m going to get fired, anyway.”

“You don’t know that yet. Let’s calm down and talk it over with Moose.”

“There’s no point. I couldn’t stay, anyway. I’ve been humiliated.”

I could not believe I was in this position of talking someone out of quitting…again! Vic and I did not see eye to eye on everything, and we had certainly had our differences, but he was Yo2, and I did not want to lose another crewmate.

Vic had finished packing and was closing his backpack.

“Vic, I have one good reason for you to stay.”

He threw his pack over his shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, “Oh, yeah? What’s that?”

“Who is going to help me cook the turkey next time?”

Vic wasn’t expecting that. He grinned and punched my shoulder and said, “You’ve got it down now. You don’t need me anymore.”

Vic walked out of the tent and never came back.
I went back to the camp fore and sat down on a round.

“Did you find him?”

“Yeah. He just left.”

Glen was still coming out of the shock. “I didn’t mean to do anything to him. He was dragging us to the fire. I didn’t have any choice.”
We all agreed with Glen. Glen had done nothing wrong. Vic had put him in a position in which he really had no choice. That didn’t make it suck any less that Yo2 had lost yet another member.

And he wouldn’t be the last.

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