Operation mud: CFIX part 4
The following narrative describes highly original activities, the appeal of which some readers might find dubious at best.
The week progressed and there were breaks in the rain--moments when the sun would spy through a crack in the clouds, causing everything to glow and shimmer on the quad. Later on it would beat down with enough brief force to dry portions of ground before the rain would return.
It was Thursday and one of those breaks was beckoning us all to challenge the Army confidence and obstacle courses. It was sure to be a little soggy still but no one was thinking about passing it up. Upon getting to the field and beginning the confidence course, it promptly started raining again. It wasn't very cold and beside putting a few of the more dangerous courses off limits, there was no pause in the morning's activities. The command staff (myself, Taylor and another) commenced milling around and watching the action. It was exciting enough to bring back memories of the first time we ran the very same course 4 years ago. It's amazing how you can remember just how and where you got this scrape and that bruise. Nothing serious, mind you, just small wounds. It's a shame none of us were smart enough to apply for the purple heart like some Democrats I know of.
So the rain started and stopped and lunch came and went. By this time the command staff were bored enough to brave one of the muddiest of the confidence courses just for the fun of it--by lunch we finally looked the part. That was only prep for the obstacle course, though!
As the basics began, it started to sprinkle again. I started to think to myself about what lay ahead. You see, after all the basics go through, its tradition for the staff to make a run at it. I had never done this course in the rain and the very thought of doing it now was almost too good to be true! What is usually a dust bowl would now be a mud trap! What a happy thought!
The basics finished and sure enough, it was coming down as it should. We all stood there, the rain just intensifying--as was our adrenaline level. The basics would be watching and that was on my mind as Taylor and I started whooping it up! We moved into a tight circle and started a slow chant-like "whhoo...whhoo...whhoo..." and gradually we rose in volume and speed till we finally reached our crescendo, one long thunderous roll of voices--and that was our cue.
We fairly flew through the obstacles like an unstoppable storm surge before a sweeping wind. It was wet, muddy, loud, fast, and felt ever so good! The end of the course loomed and beyond that a sea of cadets cheering and pumping fists for us. It was an explosion of energy like no other and we were making the most of it. Anything to set an example of motivation they would never forget. After crossing the line we again merged into a tight mass of hot, steaming, sweating, mud-drenched humanity for one last yell into each other's faces. It was a no-holds-barred roar which destroyed our voices for the rest of the day.
The show finally ended, though, and it was time to head back to the quad. We had little more than 90 minutes to prepare for the staff "dining-in;" That's a rather fancy little party and, needless to say, quite a contrast from what we looked on the obstacle course! On our return to the quad, there were a few over-enthused staff members who defied the "no swimming" sign and jumped into one of the larger puddles. A hundred showers later and the staff were all decked in their best regalia, looking far from the type of kids prone to yelling and screaming, rolling in the mud and jumping into puddles for no apparent reason. It was a return to normalcy almost as striking as our departure that morning.