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.

December 29, 2009

A Christmas Without SAR

Since the round-the-clock SAR missions involving the dozens of stranded hunters a few weeks ago, there hasn't been a peep from SAR central. Which drives home the fact that Search and Rescue really has become a big part of my life. When we go through a quiet stretch, I sure notice the difference. Too much time on my hands. (Isn't that a song?)

I also realize how often I've not done things--not gone to the movies, not gone out of town for a weekend--so I wouldn't chance missing a SAR call. And that's just plain silly. So one of my own New Year's resolutions is to go about my life and not worry about when there might be a call-out. I do love to participate, but that definitely shouldn't get in the way of doing other things. Right? But I'll still continue to keep all of my gear in my car ... just in case.

Anyhow, during this lull, I've read another SAR-related book, though this one is very much from a victim's perspective and doesn't involve a lot of Search and Rescue action. Angels in the Wilderness: The True Story of One Woman's Survival Against All Odds is a gripping firsthand account about being severely injured deep in the backcountry, while no one knows where the injured, solo hiker is and won't miss her for days to come.

This hiker was Amy Racina, who fell sixty feet in a remote part of King's Canyon National Park, breaking both legs. Battling pain, fear and exhaustion, she survived for four days, pulling herself inch-by-inch along a ravine until her calls were heard by a man who was partially deaf.

One of the most riveting aspects of the story, in my opinion, was the fact that one difference amongst a number of events that led to her rescue could very well have cost Amy her life. I mean, what if the hiking party who found her had canceled their trip for some reason or chosen another route? Or left even one day later? What if Amy hadn't been calling for help at the time the hikers happened to pass by above--hikers she couldn't see or hear from the ravine? What if she hadn't dragged herself up the ravine but had stayed where she'd fallen? The hikers would probably never have heard her. Amy questions those and other circumstances that fell into place to ultimately save her life at close to the last minute.

I really found this book interesting and inspiring, which is why I read from sundown to sunup until I'd turned the last page.
If you want to read my opinion of other SAR-related and wilderness survival books, I review each one I read here.


Boshemia said...

Hello love!

I just finished a book that I've been wanting to share with you. Though it isn't search and rescue specific, the stories of survival are incredible.


If you do get it and take the Survivors IQ test, I'd like to know how you scored!

Hope all is well in lovely Flagstaff!


Roy Scribner said...

Sounds like a good book! My attitude towards people who solo in the backcountry is generally negative, although I regularly go with my 9-year old - so I'm not sure that's much different :). Are very many people using the locater beacons, yet? I haven't seen anyone with them, in the Santa Cruz or Sierra mountains.

Deb Kingsbury said...

A lot of people (it seems) are using the SPOT ... but some are also misusing it--pressing 9-1-1 in non-emergency situations and/or admittedly taking risks they would not otherwise have taken had they not had the beacon.

I realize the SPOT has resulted in people getting help that saved their lives ... but I'm not sold on it. And I'm not really a solo hiker myself, except for an occasional lone hike on well-used, well-known local trails, and I always tell at least one person where I'm going and when I expect to be back. For the most part, I prefer having a companion on the trail, even if we get spread out a bit.

Roy Scribner said...

Just wow. 'GPS Leads 3 Parties Astray in Oregon'