(Continued from https://www.swanhikes.com/2020/05/23/the-wind-river-range/)
On the next trip, we had another new guy. This one seemed great. He didn’t know much, but was strong, intelligent, took direction, etc. It was a relief to have him in camp after the last two “Camp Jacks”. I really respected the guy. Unfortunately, his third day on the job, his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he quit. Thankfully this guy was driving down to Texas and liked me enough that he let me ride with him from Cowpoke, Wy., down to Colorado Springs where I spent two nights and then flew back to the Appalachian Trail. The main reason for my departure is explained below:
We were camping near the base of Mount Baldy. Being 20 miles from the nearest road and hours from town, you had better be prepared. Remember the story about the stove pipe continuously falling on the tent? I let the outfitter know that, for days, I had been dealing with a cook tent that was filling up with smoke to the point that I couldn’t cook. It would be great to get this resolved in between trips The stove pipe was rusted, cut, and improperly fitting. One of the legs was broken and I had to wrap tin-foil around a stick and attach it with bailing wire. This is the first day of our second pack trip of the summer:
Me: Sir, we really need to get this taken care of. I thought it would happen over the weekend. How am I supposed to work if I am literally trying to put out fires???
Boss: What do you want me to do? Run to the f****ng 7/11 ????
Me: Sir, obviously we can not do that. That is why I said something before we rode back in camp. Perhaps, when we get back to town in a couple of days, we could get a new one. Maybe I could call in to base and let them know we need one.
Boss: We have one!
Me: Yes sir and it is going to burn down your tent! I am literally putting out fires!
Boss: Once again, What do you want me to do? Run to the f****ng 7/11?
Me: No sir, but looking at everything that was packed for me… I don’t have enough eggs for this trip! Someone is going to have to come up here anyways.
Boss: Why don’t you have enough eggs?
Me: I don’t know, Sir. I told your wife and daughter (who did the packing) that I only had one tray of eggs left. I use one tray of eggs per day. It is not my job to go to the grocery store and pack. I just give them my inventory and they are supposed to give me back what I need.
Boss: Are you saying that my wife and daughter don’t know what they are doing??
Me: No sir, I am saying that I can not help it if the eggs are not here, because I told them how many I needed and it is their job to go get the stuff. What else can I do?
Boss: I NEED EGGS! I Want eggs! How can we be in camp without eggs??????
Me: WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO, SIR? RUN TO THE F****NG 7/11 ??? I want a stove pipe so I don’t die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. I would like a stove pipe so I don’t have a head ache every day from smoke inhalation at high elevation. You are worried about eggs? Why don’t you call a wrangler to bring in a new stove and stove pipe along with some eggs?
The next day, a rider rode in with a new stove, stove pipe, and eggs. Two days later, we all rode out of camp for the weekend. The owner asked me to ride with him back to the lodge. I was peeved and did not want to be near this guy. He did not like it when I spoke to him the way he spoke to me and had not stopped pouting since the day before. I had been getting 4 hours of sleep a night on top of all the other issues. The outfitter became instantly insecure as we rode down the road together.
Boss: Those clients were nice people.
Me: Yes Sir.
Boss, 5 minutes later: The Mexicans have been working hard on the fire mitigation.
Me: …well I said nothing, because I was tired and a statement was made that did not require a reply.
Boss, 5 minutes later: WHATS YOUR PROBLEM???
Me: What do you mean, Sir?
Boss: YOU ARE IGNORING ME!!
Me: What did you say, Sir? That the Mexicans are working hard? Yes sir, it appears that they are still working just as hard as they were when you made the same comment last week when we came through here. There is no need to yell at me. What’s my problem? I am very tired. I have a headache. I did not have the things that I needed in camp. I was literally putting out fires all week. Now you are getting a freaking attitude with me and I worked my butt off. Obviously, the clients had a great time or I would not have made $500 in tips in three days off of a family of 3. How about the week before when I got a trophy knife and $800. I am sorry that you had a bad week and didn’t catch any fish. Maybe instead of yelling at me, you should thank me for showing the clients a great time.
Boss: Yes! You made lots of tips! The clients loved you! You are being rude as hell to me right now!
Me: Sir, I am not sure how I am being rude. You literally will not leave me alone. You keep yelling at me. I am exhausted physically and mentally. I HAVE HEARD ENOUGH!!
Boss: FINE I DON’T KNOW WHY I EVEN TRIED TALKING TO YOU! When we get back to the lodge, I don’t need you to do anything else. Just go shower and go to bed!
Me: Yup, that is what I intend to do.
As much as I love that kind of work and being in the Wind River Range, I decided to quit, and did so the next morning. I walked into the kitchen with a stack of things to return to the outfit. I walked up to the owner and his family to quit and they said they needed to talk.
Boss: Swan, I did not appreciate the way you spoke to me. Also, you forgot to take out the trash the night before we left on our last trip. There was some broth that spilled out in the bag and got on the floor. My wife had to clean it up. WERE YOU TRYING TO BURN DOWN MY HOUSE?
Me, with a chuckle: Burn down your house, Sir? With broth??”
Boss: YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY??
Me: NOPE! I think it is sad. I walked in here to quit anyways. Here’s your paper work back. Here is the current camp inventory. I need my checks.
Boss: Here are your checks, SWAN. I’m watching you on your way out. You better not steal anything.
Me: Well, Sir, considering that my checks are short, it looks like you are the thief!
He corrected the checks and I left out with the camp hand. What the camp hand was going through was an awful thing. The outfit had been talking behind his back and saying that it was just an excuse to quit, but there is no way. That guy talked to me for a while about his mothers pancreatic cancer. His mom told him that she knew how much this job meant to him and for him to stay. His dad called him and said she did not have long to live and if he wanted to say goodbye, that he had better come home. It had me tearing up from thinking about when my own mother had cancer. Thankfully, mine pulled through OK. The prognosis for pancreatic cancer is not very good. I hope that she made it through and that he went on to better adventures. I am very grateful for the ride to Colorado.
(Part III is coming next with a Mob tale.)