posted on Aug, 13 2017 @ 10:35 PM
It's a long story, longer than most can probably imagine, but I'll try to keep it short...
It was just a summer job, one my Dad had said I'd probably like (which actually meant I would probably HATE, but HE would love for me to do it). It
was my first summer break from college. I could have gone to work for him (our family construction company), but he had other ideas.
"Be here by 7am", they said. No problem. I showed up, but all the other trucks had left but one. I was going to work as a surveyor, for a
engineering firm...we would be surveying what would become a legendary pipeline across America, 2nd only to the Alaskan Pipeline. It was called
"TrailBlazer", and it ran from the Yukon to Texas. Our job was to survey it across Montana and Wyoming, no easy task.
I was kind of surprised that first morning; all the other survey trucks were gone, save one. In a week I would find out why. Long story short, they
said this was the "junior crew" truck...all the others had left hours before. This was the truck they took the "interns" out in. It was the
Sixty miles from town, hiking 4-5 miles from the truck, we began our day. This was the "puppy" crew. There were two other interns that day. One
didn't show up the next day, and the other quit the following day. It was hard work. We walked 12-15 miles per day, through the high altitude
desert of Wyoming. I loved it.
Fast forward (after the other kids quit), I asked why we left so late, and they said "Well, if you're good with it, we'll leave with the rest of
the crews...be here at 3:30am. We leave at 4am sharp!"
It was still cold at 3:30am, no moisture in the air, and I didn't understand why we were loading up ropes, harnesses and climbing gear. For the past
two weeks we'd gone north out of town, but today we were headed south. I think it was 100 miles out of town that first day. We drove to the end of
the last road imaginable, if you could even call it a "road". These were serious 4x4 trucks, and we were working them to the limits of their
abilities. There was no "recreational" 'four wheelin' going on here, I must have slammed my head off the door post or the window 80 times by the
time we finally stopped. There simply was no more road, and the sagebrush was 4', just slamming you around like skittles in a plastic box. It was
rugged. So THIS is what the "advanced" teams did, I thought. Truth be known, I was still on a "B" team. The "A" teams went out for
weeks...we'd just go out for a couple days.
"Got your lunch???" one crew chief asked me. I said I did, and he just laughed! "Lunch" to him meant 2-3 days worth of food!!
When we finally parked the truck you just wanted to get out. Anything was better than getting slammed around like that for hours on end.
YAY...finally! Then it was time to load up our packs. The first day we hiked 6 miles to the starting point, and surveyed (line AND level) for
another 6 miles beyond that. The "level loop" crew I was on hiked that 6 miles at least 3 times over, balancing the loop every time. If it didn't
balance, you did it again. Each segment was 1,500-2.000 meters. Over and over. It had to "tie" out to 1/100th of a foot.....or you did it again.
And again...and again.
The next day the starting point was 12 miles from the truck (where we'd left off the day before). You enjoyed the whole day, and absolutely DREADED
the ride back out, getting slammed around in the truck again. The day after that the hike was 18 miles, and took most of the day. We'd survey until
it was so dark out, as dark as the "inside of a cow" they'd say. At 24 miles out it was too far to come back to the trucks, so we'd "bivvy".
Just a small insulated sleeping bag and a waterproof sack, out under the stars. There were no tents, they were too heavy to carry with all the other
stuff we had to haul.
------end PT 1-----