Constructing a Fire For Starvation Gulch

My Freshman year I gathered hundreds of pallets to build a fire for Starvation Gulch, and ever since that moment I have been hooked.

Starvation Gulch is
 a tradition started at UAF in 1923 as a way to pass the torch of knowledge to the incoming Freshman students. From that point on it has grown into a massive campus ice breaker, that helps ease students back into school, and helps to kick off a new school year.

Since getting hooked my Freshman year, I have now been the captain of two bonfire building teams here at UAF. And what most people don't understand about the fires is that it is a lot of work not only to build one of those massive fires, but also a ton of work to collect all of the pallets. 

The first step in having a successful bonfire build is having the perfect place to store your pallets. Since you only have four hours to move your pallets onto location, and build your fire. Your hiding spot has to be close to campus, easy access, but hidden enough so other teams don't steal your pallets. Often times this is the most difficult task of the building process, since most college kids don't own property near the University. Regardless, every year we have found a sufficient spot.

The next step is to start gathering pallets, or really anything that is wood. This requires lots of trucks, trailers, and time. You travel from business to business asking for their pallets until you get a big enough load to haul back to your super secret hiding spot. This part can get interesting sometimes with some of the people you encounter, as well as the tie down jobs on the pallets. No matter what, everything always turns out fine, and it is an absolute blast.
Once the mad dash for pallets is over, it is time to get a quick nights rest as Saturday morning everyone is up at 6;30 to meet at school by 7:30. This year the roads were EXTREMELY icy and made hauling trailers very interesting. Anyways, we all met up and headed to our secret hiding spot to load up as many pallets on the trucks as possible. Once the trucks and trailers were loaded we headed to the Nenana Parking lot, the place where we would be building our fire this year. We parked and waited until the clock struck 10 am, and then it was a mad dash. We quickly unloaded all of the pallets we had on the trucks and ran back to get the rest that we had. Meanwhile while people are running back to get pallets, a few stay behind to begin building. Once all of the pallets are on site it becomes a crazy, but systematic building process of people passing pallets higher and higher up the structure. I am usually one of the people that is on the very top of the structure building as it gets higher and higher. At times it can be very nerve racking being so high n the air on something built out of wood that you quickly just threw together, but the structures are always very well built, and surprisingly stable! Before we knew it, we were throwing the last pallets on the fire and stepping back to look at our beautiful creation.. We had done it! With sore backs, tired faces, and hungry bellies, we retired to the local pizza place where we gorged ourselves with delicious pizza to prepare ourselves for the fun night ahead. 

With a full belly and a tired back, I went home and took a well needed shower and nap before the main event was to kick off. The fires are started every year at 10 pm by the University Fire Department, and let me tell you, Starvation Gulch is a huge deal. There are six of the biggest bonfires you have ever seen, a DJ, and tons of booths with delicious food and fun. But being someone who has put so much blood sweat and tears into their fire, my focus is on the fires more than anything else. I want to see how big our fire is going to get, and see if it will win the coveted "Big Ass Flame Award". There is always a lot of anticipation leading up to the first fire lit, and this year, ours happened to be fifth in line.  I was a little nervous right before they lit it, but as soon as the flame hit the structure it certainly did not disappoint. The fire instantly ripped through the structure straight to the top, just like we had planned. The flame started to vortex, sucking more air into the center ,which created an even larger flame. Everything worked just as planned, and now it was time to sit back and enjoy our fire with a complete sense of satisfaction. 

I still get the same satisfying every year when I see all the word work going up in a huge flame for everyone to enjoy. I only have one starvation gulch left, and I am planning on going out with a bang!

No comments

Powered by Blogger.