Mario Villalobos

Working Through It

One of the saddest things about the end of fire season is the hard crash that comes from the monotony of a slower routine. Firefighting has a predictable and somewhat harsh routine: wake up early, sleep deprived, and exhausted, have a few minutes to brush teeth and put boots on, attend briefing, have breakfast, and finally go to the fire, catching up with micro-naps here and there. Then there’s the long hike into the fire, the few hours of work before lunch, lunch time, a few more hours of work, and the long hike out of the fire. Then dinner. Sprinkled in-between all of that, though, is the fact that you’re doing something you love with people who love it just as much as you do. These people are also all so different, and you learn so much from them and them from you, and there’s a camaraderie that builds up so quickly and feels like it’s lasted so long that when it’s over, there’s no way to replace it.

Time seems to work. This is my fourth fire season, so I know that time works, but I also know that I’ve fallen into a depression after each fire season, too. I drink more, I eat more, I try my hardest to be more social in an attempt to recreate the social life of firefighters while out on a fire, but it hasn’t worked. I’m going to give myself tonight to drink and sleep and feel what I feel, but I can’t let it linger forever. I’m even going to try to come back and fight fires during the weekends, but that’s not guaranteed in stone or anything.

I just miss it. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and I forgot to mention how beautiful Montana is, even when it’s on fire. The best part of all of this is being able to see places a lot of people have never seen before. God, I need to go hiking again.