BUSAR Anniversary Update – September


BUSAR celebrated it’s one year anniversary this month!! Looking back, I am extremely proud of the missions and training accomplished this past year. Huge thanks to Steve Kloster and Jared St. Clair for supporting the idea and our team.

  • August – Smokies Litter Team day
  • September – Georgia Orienteering race
  • October –  Ekaneetlee ManVenture
  •  November – Rob Spieden Tracking class
  • December – Porter’s Creek, Lester Prong, “real” Bunion & Survival 101
  • January – Survival 101 & Downed plane search exercise
  • February – Survival 101 & Interagency SAREX
  • March – Skedco Manway carryout
  • April – K9 training, BTRT-E, Virgina SAR conference, litter team day & Smokies Tech Team
  • May – BLRI SAREX
  • June -BUSAR tech training, Swiftwater I & Black Diamond Vertical Training
  •  July – Swiftwater II & Black Diamond Vertical Training
  •  August – Swiftwater II & Black Diamond Vertical Training

Workouts – Crushing it as the weather cools off.. A couple of us needed to knock out the pack test, so we created the “SAR-duous” duty pack test. First three miles is standard USFS test – 45# in 45 min plus and additional 2 miles, switching out to SAR packs and carrying 35# kettlebells


Rescue Swimmer 1 – Herrington, Grieco, and Jernigan started the Public Safety Rescue Swimmer course, taught by Jason Benjamin. More info here:Rescue Swimmer



Black Diamond Vertical Training weekend 4BUSAR was again well represented at the final Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training of the 2016 season. Excluding  our dedicated, exceptional Instructors Daniel Murray, Greg Osborne, Victoria Airey and the legendary Bob Barlow (caving, innovating and instructing since the sixties) BUSAR members comprised half of the class! King Cobra, Dusken and his Lady. Danny and I proudly showed the BUSAR colors.
After the students rigged the drops, the day was spent on rope learning new skills, practicing those previously acquired, and completing the Basic and Advanced Rope Techniques Skills check-off process: ascending, rappelling, pick-offs, ascending and descending past knots, transferring from one rope to another while climbing and descending, and
  Figuring out how to climb with a Rope Walker or make a climbing system from 3 random “parts”
It was another great day on the Rock. As always, BUSAR members are welcome to attend any and all sessions. Two day training is generally held the second week-end each June, July, August and September at Backbone Rock in Shady Valley Tennessee. There is a campground at the Rock. I will be your point of contact for any questions.
– Doc
GRSM Tech Team Training – Herrington, Miller, Benjamin, and Campbell attended the Smokies Tech Team training day. Great to support and integrate with the guys we will be working with in the field.



  • Cataloochee Search for family of five – Spieden, Herrington, Miller, Sledge, & Benjamin before being called off


  • Dusken Sledge – prior military, squad leader, mountain warfare school grad, & hiker


July & August BUSAR Update..



 Still going strong. Changed PT time to 1830


Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training II – July 9-10 AAR by Doc “The Legend” Miller

BUSAR was represented during week two of Black Diamond  Vertical Rescue training by Jenny Jutofsky, Ashley Lewis and Ken Miller.  The same cadre of great instructors and enthusiastic students enjoyed perfect weather after severe storms Friday night. Many basic and advanced skills were checked off including:
  • ascending on frog and rope walker systems
  • rappelling on rescue 8, brake bar rack (J and U) and micro rack
  • rappelling on a weighted line
  • change-overs from ascending to descending and vice versa
  • building anchor systems
  • building and using hauling (2:1, 3:1, 4:1 and 5:1) systems
  • building and using lowering systems
  • changing from haul to to lowering systems and vice versa
  • belaying climbers and those on rappel as well as rescue loads
  • hauling and belaying semi-tech rescue loads (litter patient and bearers)
Day 1 training concluded with a surprise rescue scenario to access, evaluate, package and evacuate (semi-tech) a “victim” who had fallen from the waterfall cliff. That included quickly rigging hauling and lowering systems for a safe carry-out to the road. After de-rigging and re-packing all the gear, supper was followed by knot tying, marshmallow roasting and networking around the campfire.
Day 2 began with re-rigging 4 ropes on the rock for vertical students to practice and have skills evaluated. A horizontal tensioned line was rigged down below so the K9s could get some harness time as well.  Sunday’s weather was beautiful and we completed 16 hours of great instruction and hard work over the week-end.
Weekend 3 Black Diamond Vertical Training will be August 20-21 beginning at 9am.  I have reserved campsite 5. There will be a pot luck dinner provided Saturday night with a gear auction. If you have any old gear you want to get rid of, you may donate it to the auction.  All are welcome!
Swiftwater Rescue Training II – July 29-31 TARS Hiwasee River
Herrington, Morgan, Hesse, Grieco, & Jutkofsky attended. Benjamin instructor – Lots of raft work, tethered swimmer drills, patient packaging, night ops, haul systems, foot entrapment drills, etc. This link has pics and vids:
Swiftwater Rescue Training II – August 19-21 TARS Hiwasee River
Same as training as above. Ransom and Lewis attended. Benjamin instructed.
Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training III – August 20-21 AAR by Doc “Hunk” Miller
BUSAR was again well represented at Backbone Rock where the hard core were undeterred by the threat of thunderstorms with heavy rain on Saturday. Rather than risk potential exposure to lightning and torrential rain from the coming storm if it proved necessary to urgently de-rig 5 ropes, hauling and lowering systems, the superb Instructor cadre (who have done that more than once before) already had Plans B and C ready. Cobras Hesse , Sharbel, Jutkofsky and Miller would join the rest of the Basic and Advanced students in a pre-planned technical rescue scenario, moving a litter up and over the Rock.
Backbone Rock is a pillar, forming a 100 foot high fin of solid stone, on a ridge of Holston Mountain. It is surrounded by a bend in Beaverdam Creek and penetrated by “the World’s Shortest (10 meters) Tunnel” The task was to move a litter loaded with a simulated patient up and over the Rock to a  Medevac unit on the other side using only the equipment in the supplied Wilderness Technician Pack, what we had on our harnesses and four 150 foot ropes. The north face of the precipice initially slopes gradually from our starting point near the creek, but soon angles upward 30, 45, 60 degrees through a rhodendron hell terminating in a 30 foot high vertical face. The first task was to send out recon parties to scout the best way through the hell to the top of the ridge and down the other side.
Once the route was determined, the litter team clipped in and began their semi-tech ascent into hell with the “patient”. Meanwhile the recon teams began rigging a route through the rhododendron to haul the litter team and patient safely through the increasingly technical terrain.. The rhodo hell was traversed by bushwhacking with the aid of a 3:1 haul system to help us gain the vertical face below the cliff top. Simultaneously, a team was rigging additional  anchors on the ridge top.
When the litter was in a stable location at the bottom of the north face, the haul system was quickly broken down and moved to the the new anchors on top where a belay system was also rigged. The litter and an attached attendant were then protected with a belay line and hauled with a z-rig to the top of the cliff while the rest of the litter team ascended by a separate route to meet them.
Meanwhile the other recon team scouted the safest place to lower the litter and attendant to the Medevac unit on the south side of the sheer vertical cliff. The second haul system was broken down and moved ahead of the litter to the top of the sheer vertical drop above the creek on the other side. Anchors were built, then lowering, belaying and hauling systems were rigged.
Finally the litter and attendant were lowered down the vertical face, tied off mid-face, and then hauled back up for a short distance for gain experience changing from a lowering system to a hauling system, then back again. The litter and attendant were then lowered safely to the ground for transport before the storm arrived. It was a great learning experience for everyone involved and clearly demonstrated why we must learn and practice these technical skills and teamwork and be ready to think “outside the box” to solve problems with limited resources. Our ultimate goal is to become so proficient as a team that the litter never stops moving!
Saturday afternoon was spent rotating through hands-on stations in Land Navigation/Map Reading, Anchor Building and Litter Patient Packaging while the predicted rain approached slowly.  A cookout followed, featuring a bountiful feast and the best pork I have ever tasted, lovingly prepared by Grill Master/Black Diamond Coordinator/Lisa Hannon Award recipient Mike Maggard. The rest of the evening was spent with a fund raising gear auction and socializing in the Pavillion or around campfires before the heavy rain began.
Training Plan C was executed Sunday morning and we gathered beneath the Pavillion. Ropes were fed through pulleys rigged from the rafters and attached to brake bar racks through which rope could be fed for climbers to ascend or descend continuously. Skills practiced included ascending, descending, changeovers, climbing on prusik knots, climbing on a system of parts (someone hands you pieces and you figure out how to climb and descend with them), etc. My parts were an adjustable foot loop on a Petzl handled ascender, a spring loaded Gibbs rope grab, a non-locking carabiner and a prusik which I held in reserve. This was also a great opportunity to practice building anchors and hauling and lowering systems, and running those systems. Instructors were available to sign off on student skill sheets and we were able to accomplish almost as much as we could have on the Rock but for the weather.
It was another week-end of fantastic training and everyone returned home safely. I strongly encourage anyone seeking an opportunity to learn or practice technical rope rescue skills to take advantage of Black Diamond’s warm hospitality. There will be one more session this season on September 10-11 and all are welcome. Next year the same training will occur the second week-ends of June-September.
See you on the Rock!  Doc


  • All quiet of the Western front. A couple of us responded to dispatch for the two callouts, but enough resources were on hand


  • Jason Benjamin – Oak Ridge Fire Captain, Swiftwater instructor, technicial rescue instructor, rescue swimmer instructor, and stuntman/stunt coordinator


  • BUSAR is celebrating it’s 1 Year Anniversary!!
  • Finishing up most of the technical classes of the summer and transitioning back into manway trips for the fall


Feral Kids Wanted…


“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Halfway through the book I am reading for a project, I realize I need to do my part.

BPO’s new kid policy for foraging classes:

Kids under twelve are free with a parent or guardian

Kids aged 12 – 16 are half price ($25) with a parent or guardian

Learn more here: http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/poisonous–edible–medicinal—-useful-plants.html



Fall Foraging & Survival 101 Dates Announced…


Old Man Winter called me today and said it’s time to get the schedule out..

Survival 101:


Fall foraging class will be Saturday, September 24th:




Best candidates for 2016…



Call me crazy, but I have more faith in the couple above making positive changes in our country than the buffoonery of our political system…


Scott and Stephanie won’t serve you up a bunch of political nonsense, false promises, and lies, but they will make you, your family, and the community healthier and stronger. Tucked into the mountains of Western North Carolina, they run Stoney Hollow Farm just outside Robbinsville, NC – http://www.stoneyhollowfarm.org/



Along with their kids, they raise a variety of non-GMO, organic fruits and vegetables for their farm store, u-pick, wholesale customers, and CSA program.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community-supported_agriculture)



“I thought this post was about politics”

It is, read on to see how supporting local growers change the nature of our country..

  • Your food doesn’t have to travel across the country or from overseas, thereby reducing the amount of fuel, pollution, and packaging associated with transportation
  • Most local growers follow more sustainable farming practices than the large monocrop model, therefore reducing pesticide and fertilizer use. Obviously that reduces pollution from those products, but it also has a trickle down effect on the production, transportation, and economics of that industry.
  • Buying local has a positive effect on the community by keeping money in that area http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html
  • Buying local builds good bonds and friendships, thereby strengthening the community
  • Supporting non-GMO and organic growers sends a monetary message that we don’t want all that crap in our food. Consumer demand can make or break products.
  • Healthier eating habits leads to healthier people. Healthier people = healthier country

I got to chat with Scott and his family about the farm, it’s history, and their goals.

In 1998, Scott sold his floor cleaning business and bought 150 acres outside Robbinsnville, cleared 10 acres of it, and started a fruit and produce farm. The crazy part of that story is that Scott didn’t grow up farming, he learned most of his knowledge from books and the school of hard knocks. A bold, life changing move like that takes guts, so I asked Scott his advice about the fear that can hold us back from taking big chances..

“You just have to go for it. And you can always go back if you are careful not to burn bridges”

Simple enough, but sometimes the simple things in life are taken for granted. Daily swims and eating every meal together keeps this family strong under the immense workload of the busy season.

Stephanie came from a banking background, but her love of jam making brought her to Stoney Hollow. Her goal of providing healthy food for her family has now grown much larger to include the community. Not only is Stephanie still making jams, but breads, pies, cookies, and a whole bunch of great tasting, healthy treats. Her side of the operation has now expanded to include baking, canning, and nutrition classes, focusing on food as part of a healing program.


A lot of u-pick farms sport only one type of fruit, while others grow only a handful of different veggies. Listening to customer demand, one of the hallmarks of Stoney Hollow is the diversity of fruits and vegetables. To see the what’s in season, visit the website, but here is what they typically grow:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries – red & black
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Cherries – sweet & sour
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash – summer & winter
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccolli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Watermelons
  • Cantaloupe
  • Flowers

If you aren’t up for picking yourself, you can call, email, or Facebook message 24 hours in advance to pick up the next day. You can also stop in at the farm store for pre-picked produce, eggs, honey, and all the baked goods.


Being an outdoor educator, I have seen my fair share of kids that do not have strong ties to the land. A product of our times. the lack of skill transfer from generation to generation has been breeding a population that is dependent on others for basic human needs.

Scott and Stephanie’s children are definitely an exception to the current trend. Being home-schooled on the farm, they lead a healthy, active life that involves farm work and customer service. I see kids being kids, but also learning practical skills for life  and and forging a super strong work ethic.

Emily, a master at customer service, says that her favorite part of living and working on the farm is the “educational aspects when visitors come from far way.” Landon, a professional weeder by trade, can identify more plants at five years old than most adults. He can also show you where the best berries are and doubles as security when he turns into the “One-Boot Bandit”..

I could keep raving on, but for the sake of brevity, I am going to summarize some other points:

  • Scott is incorporates a plethora of sustainable practices including crop rotation, composting, green manures, cover crops, plastic mulch, seed saving, and organic pest control. Got a growing question during your visit, just ask.
  • Integrated planting has helped with pest control, but birds, bears, and other critters get their share.
  • 2017 CSA will open up for orders in December or January
  • Wholesale orders are available. Tapoco and Snowbird Lodge are two of the local fine dining restaurants that take advantage of that program.
  • Stoney Hollow had it’s first intern this year. More to follow.
  • Hold your grocer accountable.” If they advertise local produce, make sure they offer a good selection
  • If you want to make Stoney Hollow a family getaway, there are several campsites nearby – Santeelah, Cheoah, Rattler Ford, etc. There is also whitewater rafting nearby, several lakes, and tons of hiking trails
  • Future plans include more internships, kitchen workshops, grower’s workshops, expanding the orchard, and more forest farm products
  • Scott is available as a consultant and is especially passionate about getting operations like his started in areas with higher population densities

When I asked Scott for a parting message, it wasn’t “come visit us” or “buy our produce”.

Instead, his unselfish message revolved around the food security issues our country faces as we lose diversity in our crops, import more food, and continue to lose skills of self-reliance. With almost two decades of professional farming experience, this humble grower wishes that everyone would grow a garden.

I can’t help but think that emphasizing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle centered around an independent food source while supporting the local community and transferring that knowledge to the next generation will make America greater than anything coming from the puppet show in D.C…


Vote with your money and find local growers in your area:  http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states


one boot



Oh Snap!..BUSAR June Update


Team Workouts

It’s heating up, the sweat is pouring

Ski’s working hard, Doc finds it boring

As tough as  iron, as strong as steel

He shrugs off pain, that others may feel

At seventy four, the Legend rolls on

An inspiration to all, when your motivation is gone

It may be hot, it may be cold

But Doc Miller shows Cobras, that you are never too old!!




June was a busy month. We started out with an in-house technical day at the beginning of the month at Lookrock, focusing on anchor systems, rappelling, and ascending.


Mid-June was a training weekend with Black Diamond team out of Virginia. Doc Cobra sent an awesome write up of attending their vertical rescue training with four other team members, so I will just post that in it’s entirety..

AAR Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training Week 1
BUSAR was well represented at Vertical Rescue Training Week 1, the first of four monthly 16 hour sessions based on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Wilderness Rescue Technician (WRT) Standard. The training site is Backbone Rock in Shady Valley, TN, just south of Damascus, VA. The Lead Instructors were Billy Chrimes (VDEM Training Specialist and Deputy SAR Coordinator), Bryan Saunders(VP Virginia SAR Council and original BD SAR Coordinator) Mike Maggard (Black Diamond SAR Coordinator and past Training Officer), Rob Blevins (BD Training Officer), Bob Barlow (Black Diamond Life Member, Encyclopedia and Guardian of the Culture) and Victoria Airey from the Baltimore area who brings an equal wealth of knowledge and experience in cliff/cave Vertical Rescue Techniques as well as Certification and extensive training in Professional Rope Access (SPRAT, industrial high angle rescue) . They were assisted by a host of other superb Black Diamond veterans. Five Cobras attended: Geist, Sharbel, Jutkofsky, Lewis and Miller. Three worked on Advanced Rope Techniques (ART) skills and two worked on Basic Rope Techniques (BRT) skills.
Subject matter included knots and their proper utilization, tied redundant harness, rope calls, semi-tech rope movement on “scree” slope, ascending, descending, rigging, anchors, hauling and lowering systems. The Instructors are extremely accessible and eager to share (and learn) new information at all times  After hours were spent sport climbing on The Rock and socializing around the campfire where additional learning continued, embellished by tall tales of harrowing true-life (and death) experiences. Black Diamond walks the walk (Rocks the Rock), not just talks the talk!  The weather was great and we completed a full and busy 16 hours of training.
Students climbed and rappelled in a variety of harnesses (tied, climbing, caving, rescue) on a variety of systems (Frog, Knots, free / Munter, Rescue 8, Brake bar rack) from both high rigged points and low ones (sharp edges) over a variety of edges (against the vertical wall [crossing Velcro inline rope guards] and away from the undercut face).
Everyone gained new knowledge, experience and friends, at no cost (other than transportation), from highly professional and competent instructors with years of real-world cliff and cave rescue experience who gave freely, generously and selflessly of their time and talent, “that others (especially rescuers) may live”.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity if you can help it!  We owe a great debt of gratitude to Black Diamond and VDEM.
I have reserved camping in Site 7, July 8-9 and Site 5, August 19-20. The Black Diamond Annual Cookout will be after training Saturday August 20. Their final formal vertical training of the year will be September 10-11.
That others may live!
TARS Swifwater I class – Ocoee, TN
Seven of us got to attend Swiftwater I class on the Ocoee this month. It has been almost 20 years since I started guided down there in college and after the class on Sunday, we ran a trip for fun and old times sake. Great class with lots of time in the water and very little down time.
Day 1 was a half day of classroom lecture
Day 2 was self-rescue techniques, eddy swims, rescue wading, and throw bag rescues
Day 3 finished out the course with strainer bar, tension diagonals, rope launching techniques, and foot entrapments
Responses – 
            Laurel Falls – Herrington 2:1 low angle haul and carryout for the broken ankle pictured above. Ankle picture courtesy of Tammy “Tough As Nails” Siler. Her sister is tough too!
  • Jake Bezahler – wilderness therapy guide out of Waynesville
  • Received another donation for gear. Finishing out helmet purchases and some gear for training