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.

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A SAR-Related Trip To Nepal

Now that I'm sure about my upcoming adventure, I thought I'd share it with you.

Several weeks ago, the founder of Nepal's only search and rescue team, Dutchman Ingo Schnabel, contacted me to see if I'd be interested in writing a book about them. This would mean spending three months with him and the rest of the Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal (HRDSN) this summer. At first, I was hesitant... for a few hours. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, hmm, why not! So that's what I'll be doing from April through July.

Twenty years ago this past October, Ingo followed through on his dream of starting a SAR team in Nepal. Ingo explains how this came about in a post on Nepal Friends in Times of Need. He wrote:

"I was sitting in Maastricht in the Netherlands in front of the television, a beer in one hand and potato chips in the other. I was just 41 years old and had traveled half the world. I was a researcher in Africa, a dog trainer (Imperial Iranian Air Force) and Biology teacher in Tehran, then called the Empire of Iran, where Shah-Han-Shah Reza Pahlevi, the powerful Emperor, crumbled at that time and I had to leave.

"Back in the Netherlands, I tried my best to settle down, and I got fat and lazy. Then suddenly, in front of that TV, I saw a program about the misery after the earthquake in Darjeeling and Dharan in 1988. I remembered that I had promised to my Tibetan friend Lobsang that I would come to India and Nepal and start a dog breeding center for earthquake relief. I jumped up, switched off the TV, and selected six dogs from different local breeding centers and started fundraising and their training in Maastricht at the motorcycle road race trajectory in the forest. A year later, on October 8, 1989, I arrived with these dogs in Nepal and have never left the country since."

During those 20 years in Nepal, Ingo and the team have started hospitals in remote areas of the country and even a special school that doesn't adhere to Nepal's caste system. They respond to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides and flashfloods, mass casualty and medical situations, and to reports of missing and injured trekkers. The more I learn about Ingo and the HRDSN, the more fascinated and excited I am about the trip. I only hope I can do their story justice. I'll write the book when I return to Arizona.

In the meantime, I'll be writing about it here occasionally before I go and will include updates while I'm in the country.

So, have any of you ever been there? Not me!