Friday, June 18, 2010
All of our seasonals are on board now; it is a motley crew of older and younger people, all swathed in either fleece or wool, packer boots or hikers depending on whether they come from a ranching background or more suburban. They have been sitting drowzily in "orientation", learning about how to run the radios, how to talk to visitors in the backcountry, and how to fill out timesheets. Soon we release them to the wilderness, like butterflies.
I knew when I took this job that it meant the end of week-long fieldwork trips. I'll be able to get out now and then, to check outfitter camps, but other things keep me chained to my cube: planning, permits, meetings. Some days I am okay with it. I sacrificed my knees and my heart to the mountains long ago, giving up relationships and trudging under a heavy load. I never could fit into communities because I was always gone. I couldn't choose my adventures; they were dictated by the ebb and flow of the visitors. Raining? Thunderstorms? Snow? I went anyway.
But it still tugs at me a little when I see the others, just back from a trip, sunburnt and sparkling from time spent outdoors. I tell myself that I have the weekends to roam, two and sometimes three days where I can go where I want, when I want. I'm not stuck with incompatible field partners. I can laze by a creek in the sun. I don't have to always, always press on.
Still I wonder how people do it. How do they go to work every day never feeling the sun on their face, a breeze through their hair? For thirty years? It's clear to me that I need a plan of escape, some loophole that will allow me to be outside but not living in my car. I'm not sure how yet, but it will come to me.