Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc. Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc.


November 2008

The Next TNSAR meeting is Monday, November 3rd at 6:30pm at the Granlibakken Hut. Please join us for the monthly frivolous festivities. An impressive assortment of carbonated beverages will be provided and will no doubt put a little friv in everyone’s Monday. And I, for one, need all the friv I can get my hands on these days.

2,650 Miles from end to end. Some hikers do it in a single season, those affectionately known as thru-hikers, others tackle it piece by piece over years or even decades, known to most as section hikers. For many people the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is the Holy Grail of hiking trails. A close relative of the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), the PCT wanders through California, Oregon, and Washington wildernesses from El Campo on the Mexican border to Manning Park, a few miles north of the Canadian border. If, or when, you get PCT fever, (a strange ailment that compels people to abandon jobs, loved ones, personal hygiene and to obsess with the reduction of one’s base weight even to the point of trimming the bristles on your toothbrush in order to be better able to stumble around in the woods for months on end), if, as I mentioned on the other end of this seemingly endless, fragmented, and grammatically incorrect sentence, you get PCT fever then you transform into an alien creature. You swallow backpacker’s gear catalogs like peanut M&M’s. You know the weight of your sleeping bag to the nearest gram. You cut all the extraneous straps off your backpack because they weigh too much. You memorize place names and trail maps. You send packages of GORP to yourself in strange places you’ve never been before and may never get to. You leave modern society as we know it and enter the world of long-distance hiking. I know, I’ve been there and I have had the blisters to prove it, “…Hi, my name is Bob and I’m a recovering thru-hiker…Hi Bob!” It becomes an obsession. It changes from an “if” to a “when.” The trail takes hold of you and becomes part of you. And, as it is wont to do, the PCT sometimes takes hold of hikers and never lets them go. On Saturday, October 4th, 2008, on a cold, wet, and windy section of trail near Tinker Knob, the PCT held fast to a 62 year-old PCT hiker from Oregon. This woman was a tried and true section hiker who completed most of the PCT including the Washington and Oregon sections. She was a dedicated and experienced backpacker. But as is so often the case, her death resulted from a tragic series of decisions and consequences that collided with altitude, foul weather, and fate. It is pointless and a waste of time to point fingers, pass judgment, or pontificate. What we can and should do is learn from mistakes. From my own biased first-hand point of view, I can say with great certainty that TNSAR’s participation in this search was damn near flawless. This was one of the most difficult searches I have ever been on, physically, logistically, and emotionally. And in hindsight there is little if anything that I would change if I were given that option. But that doesn’t mean that there are no lessons to be learned. For me, from my privileged location behind this keyboard, the number one lesson to be learned is that wilderness education is a never ending quest. What perhaps seems so obvious to us in the search and rescue community… always stay together as a group, don’t wear cotton in the backcountry, be ever vigilant for changing weather conditions and be prepared to deal with them, pack extra food, clothing, and survival gear, etc. etc. etc…is not always obvious to others. Even experienced others. Even “professional” others. Or maybe it is so obvious that people become lulled into complacency. Regardless, how can we better fulfill the education component of TNSAR’s mission? How can we ensure that the lessons we have to teach are remembered, practiced, and passed on? What more can we do to improve and enhance our education programs? Food for thought. Good food, healthy and delicious. Light enough for thru-hikers yet calorically gargantuan.

(n); \pre-?re-j?-'stra-sh?n\; the act of going on-line and reserving a space in the upcoming Winter Sports Symposium at the Resort at Squaw Creek. Don’t wait until last moment. I did last year and couldn’t get in even though I swore I was with the band.

Cross eyed and tongue tied
----B. Wright

The goal of TNSAR is to conduct fast and safe rescues, and to help educate the public on winter safety. If you would like to help TNSAR in this cause, please use the following PayPal donate link. Thanks!

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