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.

October 12, 2009

SAR City

I'm back. And, hopefully, I'm now a better tracker after an additional 16 hours of instruction, this time at the SARCity conference in Barstow, California, where there were more than 50 classes offered on a wide range of topics and skills. This annual conference is organized and hosted by the all-volunteer Barstow Desert Rescue Squad in San Bernadino County.

I thought the 3-day event was well worth the trip, and, as always, I really enjoyed meeting people from other teams, especially the folks from Dolores, Colorado, K9 Search & Rescue, who came over to introduce themselves soon after I arrived as I sat alone by my tent. So thank you Shawn, Chuck, Randy, Vicki #1, Vicki #2, and Kimberly (and Jack!) for hanging out with me over the weekend. It was great to meet you and learn about your team. And it was nice meeting you too, Orange County guys. That's a spiffy Hummer you've got there.

Anyhow, as for that tracking class--which was excellent in many ways, and the lead instructor (retired Sergeant and SAR Coordinator, Darryl Heller) was top-notch--it's always interesting to learn the same skills from different people. I pick up new techniques and "tricks" and get at least a somewhat different perspective, which I think is really valuable. But it's definitely a challenge not to say, "Yes, but..." when an instructor tells you that what you learned from someone else is wrong ("No, you never do that," was the reply to a question I asked about a method of measuring stride that I'd been taught at the Heber, Arizona conference), or if that instructor has a very different way of doing something than you're used to.

Not that I'm the greatest tracker after just two years in SAR and five tracking classes, but it can also be tough to swallow your pride when someone talks to you like you have no experience at all. In my case, during one of the field sessions, I was used as an example of what NOT to do, though it was something my own team does when tracking, and I've learned it from others as well. I must admit, that really bugged me ... even though the field instructor came up to me after class to say it had been he who'd encouraged the other students in my group to do something that obliterated part of the track and that I hadn't actually done anything wrong. Well, phooey, I wish the other students had heard him say that.

Other than that, though ... I thought the class was great and would highly recommend it to anyone in Search and Rescue. And while that class took up the entire conference, I heard lots of good things about many of the other classes, too, some of which lasted an hour or two or four and others that also spanned the whole weekend.

If you'd like to read more about the conference and see my photos--I wish I'd taken more, but I was usually too busy with the class or yacking to remember to take pictures--I did a write-up about it here. The next (38th) SAR City conference will be in October, 2010.

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