After taking a refresher class last week, I went today down to the Nearby Town Volunteer Fire Department shortly after seven this morning to take what is called the “pack test,” the second part of renewing my federal wildland firefighter’s “red card.” (Unlike the legal immigrant’s “green card,” this one actually is the color named.)
The test is simple enough: to pass, one must walk three miles (on fairly level city streets) in less than 45 minutes while wearing a vest full of lead ingots weighing 45 pounds. Keeping up a military “Hup two three four” march cadence will do it.
Today I was paired with one of the Nearby volunteers, a guy at least twenty-five years younger and also taller than I. He knocked back one of those “energy shot” drinks (an expensive way to buy caffeine, if you ask me), put a pinch of chewing tobacco under his lip, and we were off.
He quickly outdistanced me and finished a good two minutes or more ahead, but with him for inspiration I came in at 39 minutes, which may have been my best time yet, and that felt good.