The title assumes the worst. Lost kids….. somewhere in the Sierras. Night is approaching. Temperatures are dropping. Heavy snow in the forecast. Brrrr.
Or you might be thinking I am referring to the campy vampire movie of the 80’s where Kiefer Sutherland starred as an adolescent vampire in charge of a different “team”...... in search of blood.
But in this case, I am referring more to the inhabitants of Neverland and to kids that don’t want to grow up. To be honest, there is a little of that with our team which is actually good! I mean who else would want to set out into the snowy void on a cold, dark night but an adventurous spirit like the ones on our team. Pitting themselves and their wits against the elements to save lives. Snow cats battling across frozen tundra, snowmobiles shrieking up drifting slopes, skiers dropping down off precipices into wooded labyrinths.
Sure we don’t have any pixie dust packed away in the team truck to help us fly. We have Snickers™ and snacks instead. And no Crocodile chasing us with the tick tock of a clock in its stomach. But the tick tock is always in our heads as we race against time to get lost parties to safety.
And I don’t want to be one to typecast but..... if we were going to assign parts for a screenplay for a movie version of our own Neverland and were going to say pick Captain Hook and Peter Pan from our esteemed leads......... well…. I can kind of guess who they would be.
And let's just say, for the record, that one of these pictures was NOT photoshopped!
It was a mostly quiet summer for searches. I got called out on a downed pilot one night. Last time I responded to one of those it was a snowy, cold night on Sugarbowl. The search back then actually started at Royal Gorge where we were told the plane might have crashed. As we were conducting a search of their trail network, we got a call that part of the parachute had been recovered at Sugarbowl. The plane was Cirrus and inherent to them is an emergency chute that can be launched should the plane be in peril. Unfortunately, it is something you need to activate immediately before the plane air speed exceeds the chutes ability to stop the plane. Finding the chute was a bad sign. So we redeployed there. As we started to search, team members started to find pieces of the plane all over the mountain. A far worse sign. The plane had ultimately gone down on the backside of the mountain but it was apparent it had broken up midair. One of our sadder searches to be sure.
However, the search this summer was far different. Seems someone called in that they saw what appeared to be a hang glider or some other flying contraption go down and a mysterious circling entity. The ultralight, which is what the circling entity was described to be, supposedly stayed in the area for awhile and then flew off. I met other searchers there only to be told to stand down. The downed craft may have been downed to begin with. Turned out it was a water tower we were searching for in the end. I believe Matt found it and it was safe.
The only other I recall was a Jeep up on Martis. Before I even had a chance to load a quad, our team was safely bringing said Jeep down to the main drag. He wasn’t so much as lost as locked in behind a gate. Oops.
However, there was a search down in the foothills that was not as light hearted. Seems as though a lost hiker sparked a search in August in the Washington area. A 69 year old team member, Steve Wolf, of Placer County Search and Rescue (Auburn division) was out on the search when he was shot in the hip by an unknown shooter. The area down there is a little sketchy by the river. I was hiking down there the summer before and passed some of the residents (denizens) along the river. Neither the most pleasant nor accommodating group. Of course there was marijuana grow area nearby (that would have to be mentioned) but authorities do not believe that it factored in.
As far as I know and what I can find on line, neither the lost party nor the shooter were ever found. Steve Wolf however, upon release from the hospital, insisted on attending a debrief with his team. Attaboy Steve!! That is dedication to the cause. He has every intention of returning to searching once fully recovered.
It is rare and unusual for our searchers to be at risk in this way. At risk, yes, but typically not from firearms. Most people wish to be saved. That being said, there was a search years ago right before Christmas in South Lake where the lost party was despondent and did have a gun. It was a little unsettling and surreal to get that information mid search. It made me concerned as to how he might respond as we “closed in on him”. Would he actually fire on us? It turned out that he was actually in a residential area outside of our search are. Sadly enough, he took his life when the owners of the residence showed up to spend Christmas at their holiday home.
It will be a sad day that we need to be armed to go on searches. I don’t think my snowmobile could handle the modifications!
That being said, it is imperative that we know going in to said events if there are any underlying factors. Avalanche conditions, impending storms and unfortunately if there is a possibility of someone being armed.
I truly wish I had been hearing more positive forecasts for this winter. Or seen more squirrels at work on the pine cones. It has been quiet on the later front and I have already heard grumbling from some snowmobilers. Although it did snow already on Rose and there is talk of some snow today, the following is rough.
The last line gave me a concern worth pursuing. Seems this is the possible scenario for 2016-17. I may only be an engineer but something looks amiss.
This was culled from Farmer Almanac and other sources. Since I read that the Farmer Almanac is right nearly 80 % of the time, I Googled Farmer Almanac just to be sure.
Looks like the East Coast is going to get nailed this year and we might be doing more mountain biking in the rain. Hey…at least it will be wet. Or dry. It will be what it will be.
Just the typical: BE PREPARED
Take some trainings, prep your pack,
Do some crunches, saves your back.
Winters coming, come what may,
They’ll get lost still, either way.
Since the plan is to always have a good meal before the start of any event, or season, come join us Monday, October 3rd at 6:30 PM for some great eats and a chance to catch up with your friends on the team.
And if you are feeling tired, or curious about the unbounding energy of our fearless leader, you might ask about his dirty little secret
.Picture not actual representation of the complicated machinery at the residence of the President.
Still banging away on the keys,
PS- I want one of these!!