These are my stories as a volunteer member of the Sheriff's Search & Rescue team in Coconino County, Arizona. I'll share what it's like to go from a beginner with a lot to learn to an experienced and, hopefully, valuable member of the team, as well as the missions, trainings, and other activities along the way.
About Coconino County
About Coconino County
Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.
September 12, 2008
Highpointers in Town
This week, the Highpointers are in town for their convention on Humphrey's Peak. Until one of our general SAR meetings a couple of months ago, I hadn't heard of this club, with a membership that has an age range of something like five years to ninety. The club's purpose, as quoted from their website, is to "promote climbing to the highest point in each of the fifty (50) states; provide a forum for education about the highpoints; aid in the preservation and conservation of the highpoints and their environs; provide a vehicle through which persons with this common goal can meet and correspond with one another; maintain positive relationships with owners of highpoints on private property; assist in the care and maintenance of highpoints; and support public and private efforts to maintain the integrity of and access to state highpoints." Got all that? I've even heard that some club members try to hit high points in all counties as well.
Anyhow, with something like 350 more people than usual hiking Humphrey's and other popular Flagstaff trails this week, our SAR team did some preplanning, parked a command trailer up at the Snowbowl ski area at the Humphrey's trailhead, and made ourselves noticeable and available on the mountain, hiking (and riding horses) around with our SAR shirts and radios on, not only to do some PSAR but to have team members in the area in case an incident were to occur. It's now Friday morning, the final full day of the Highpointers convention and, so far, all is well.
I think the Highpointers Club is pretty cool. And being a list-maker and a goal-oriented girl, myself, this makes me go, "Hmmmm....."
You can check out their website and blog at http://highpointers.org/
And thank you, Renee from Tidewater Search & Rescue, for telling me about a book written by a High Pointer. She tells me it's a fun and easy read, by two men who completed the fifty-state quest. It's called, To The Top: Reaching for America's 50 State Summits.
I like the idea of banging out high points, but I it seems to take the emphasis away from simply enjoying the hike. I admit I hit Washington and Katahdin for similar reasons (I even hit the pointless Jerimoth Hill) but I plan on spending my time on the lesser known and more pleasant peaks in between.
I wonder where the high point in R.I. is? Hmmm. And Kansas. Now THAT must be a nose-bleeder!
But to respond to your comment...
I agree there may be some folks who want to just get to the top, touch it, and get back down to check the peak off the list, but I'd bet that most love the hiking in and of itself. Some folks have fun keeping checklists--like many bird-watchers do--while still really enjoying and valuing the individual experiences at the same time. I know that many of the Highpointers in Flagstaff this week did a number of other hikes in the area while they were here. I agree, though, it's fun to hike the lesser-known and sometimes unnamed "bumps."
Were you not familiar with Jerimoth Hill? 100 yards off 101 in Foster. The walk is valueless except for checking off a list. Because access to it is on private property owned by a grumpy old man, it was unaccessable for many years. New owners have created a footpath.
I've never met a highpointer before, so I'm glad to know they have a good perspective.
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