Tag Archives: lightning

Survival Weekly 7/20/15…

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Image: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/wreckage-found-search-miracle-teen-autumn-veatchs-plane-n392331

Welcome to another edition of Survival Weekly, where the real wilderness survival “reality show” plays out everyday, in the wild places around our world. These unscripted stories will give you insight to the true threats and challenges you may face in your outdoor pursuits. So sit back, relax, and read on to get a dose of reality to sharpen your most valuable survival tool. – BPO

Featured – 

Teen hikes out of wilderness after plane crash –   http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/15/us/washington-plane-crash-girl/

News – 

Robots for maritime SAR – http://www.marinelink.com/news/maritime-robots-search394711.aspx

Water Safety – 

Swimmer rescue or recovery

Hiking – 

New River Gorge National River (WV)
Stranded Visitors Rescued From Rimrocked Terrain

Four park visitors from Charleston West Virginia, headed down McKendree Road looking for a local swimming hole, faithfully following their GPS unit. McKendree Road is a state road that accesses remote and seldom visited areas of the park. The park has signed it as “rough road, 4×4 recommended.” They drove on McKendree Road, in their sedan, until they came upon a fallen tree completely blocking the road. They were only 1.8 miles from their destination according to the GPS.

Still trusting the GPS unit that had taken them down McKendree Road in the first place, they decided to walk to the swimming hole. The group walked until reaching Dowdy Creek. They could see the river and decided to walk down the hill towards river not knowing that they were entering some of the steepest and most heinous terrain in the park. On the way down, the terrain became almost vertical. Two members of the group, who had dropped lower on the hill than the others, discovered that they could not climb back up or go down any further. They began to call for help, calls which were overheard by NERI river patrol rangers.

River Ranger Matt McQueen was able to get to the rimrocked visitors and vector in responding units. Ranger Nate Freier set up a low angle belay to assist the stranded visitors back up through the steep terrain. Supported by ten NPS SAR team members, and a WV Department of Natural Resources officer, they made it up the hillside. The group of four was examined for injuries, and reunited near their car. Rangers assisted them in extricating the vehicle from the rough road.

Badlands National Park (SD)
Hiker Rescued After 125 Foot Fall

The Badlands search and rescue team responded to a mutual aid request by the Oglala Sioux Tribe mid-day on July 11th to assist with an injured hiker.

The 26-year old man had been hiking with three others and fell approximately 125 feet into a rugged canyon on Sheep Mountain Table, later determined to be on the boundary of Badlands National Park and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

SAR team members Tyson Nehrin and Ryan Frum repelled down and conducted the initial patient assessment, noting significant trauma to the patient’s head and an altered level of consciousness.  A paramedic from Black Hills Life Flight also repelled down and provided advanced life support.

Ranger Danny Baker, incident commander,  requested a Black Hawk medivac through the South Dakota National Guard to conduct a hoist operation. The visitor was successfully lifted into the Black Hawk along with the flight medic and transported to Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Responding agencies included the Oglala Sioux Tribal Police Department, Badlands SAR, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Interior Volunteer Fire Department, Pennington County SAR, Rapid Valley Fire Department, South Dakota National Guard and Black Hills Life Flight.

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Three Missing Sisters Found After Multi-Day Search

A large-scale, multi-day search for three missing sisters began on Tuesday, July 7th, after the girls’ mother notified Grand Teton National Park that they were overdue from a backpacking trip in the Teton area. Concern for their welfare mounted after they failed to meet their mother for a planned rendezvous in Chicago before a flight to Switzerland.

Rangers initially combed parking lots, trailheads and developed areas in the park to locate the vehicle in which they were traveling, but failed to find their SUV. On Wednesday, July 8th, the search expanded beyond Grand Teton, and the Teton County sheriff took over as the SAR incident commander after the girls’ SUV turned up at a trailhead on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, about 30 miles south of Jackson, Wyoming.

A total of 43 Grand Teton National Park personnel, along with a Teton Interagency contract helicopter, joined additional Teton County and Bridger-Teton National Forest searchers during the extensive search effort that lasted all day Wednesday and well into Thursday morning. Search personnel consisted of ground crews, dog teams, riders on horseback, and the interagency helicopter. Crews focused on nine search areas south-southeast of the Jackson area in the Gros Ventre Wilderness of Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The search for three missing sisters culminated when they were found at 10 a.m. on July 9th after a helpful tip from an area outfitter redirected the search effort. Megan Andrews-Sharer, 25, and her sisters Erin, 22, and Kelsi, 16, were spotted by searchers during a reconnaissance flight over a remote area in upper Horse Creek drainage, approximately seven miles west of where their vehicle was found on July 8th at the Swift Creek trailhead.

The hikers were cold, wet, and hungry but otherwise healthy, having spent several rainy and chilly nights in the backcountry. The girls left with appropriate clothing, a tent, sleeping bags, a water purifier, and other equipment for their multi-day trip, and these provisions allowed them to survive their unexpected situation. By staying together, using their tent, and rationing their food, they were able to wait for help to arrive. Shortly after they were spotted, the girls were flown to the Swift Creek trailhead and reunited with their father.

Searchers later learned that the three girls lost the trail on July 4th and decided to stick together and stay put in an effort to be more easily found and to not get into further trouble. This decision greatly increased their odds of being found. Their one significant mistake was not telling anyone what trailhead they were leaving from and their intended route.  Finding the SUV at the trailhead proved to be helpful because it reduced the search area from the 3.7 million acres and every highway between Jackson, Wyoming and Chicago, Illinois, to a search area of roughly 100 square miles.

The Andrews family gave a final press conference on July 10th in Jackson, which was well attended as this incident attracted both local and national media attention. The girls’ father wanted an opportunity to meet the agencies involved in the search and to thank them in front of the media. He specifically and favorably noted the support and substantial participation by NPS staff during the press conference.

This incident served as another great example of interagency cooperation among Grand Teton National Park, the Investigative Services Branch, the National Elk Refuge, Bridger Teton National Forest and the Teton County Sheriff’s office.

Missing toddler SAR suspended- http://www.kpax.com/story/29530595/grandma-of-missing-2-year-old-he-just-vanished

SAR suspended in Big Sur http://www.ksbw.com/news/big-sur-hiker-missing-5-days/34142814

Lightning strikes hikers – http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/2-struck-by-lightning-on-14er-in-chaffee-county

Lost & Injured hikers rescued –

Michel Morin, fisherman who was rescued by helicopter from the River Avon at The Dell Farm, Kirkmichael, Glenlivet, with the winchman during the rescue. Video by Christina Stewart, local resident.

Image: https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/moray/640719/angler-rescued-from-rapids-on-moray-river/

Hunter-gatherer – 

Fisherman rescued – https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/moray/640719/angler-rescued-from-rapids-on-moray-river/

Fishermen rescued off coast – http://www.cp24.com/news/three-canadian-fishermen-rescued-off-massachusetts-coast-1.2479081

Climbing – 

Zion National Park (UT)
Canyoneer Dies Following Heaps Canyon Fall

Zion National Park was alerted to an injured canyoneer in Heaps Canyon mid-day on Saturday, July 12th. The 24-year-old Las Vegas man had apparently taken a 100-200 foot un-roped fall into a side canyon at approximately 7 p.m. the previous day. Three companions descended to him; one stayed with the injured man while the other two members of the party continued on through Heaps Canyon to get help.

Heaps Canyon is a strenuous, challenging technical canyon with an approximate 3000-foot descent. It usually takes 12 to 20 hours to complete, consists of a number of rappels into cold water, and ends with a final 280-foot rappel to the Upper Emerald Pool area.

Rescue efforts started early Sunday. With assistance from Grand Canyon National Park, a short-haul helicopter was sent to assist. Two Zion search and rescue team members were short-hauled into the canyon above. When they rappelled down they found the man deceased.

Climber rescued – http://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2015/07/19/kayaker-causes-water-rescue-near/30393571/

Climber rescued – http://www.aspentimes.com/news/17325188-113/climber-rescued-on-independence-pass

Vehicles – 

Small plane crash in SE Alaska – http://www.ktva.com/5-involved-in-southeast-alaska-plane-crash-out-of-juneau-950/

Interested in learning skills to handle emergencies like the ones you read in Survival Weekly?  Check out BigPig Outdoors Survival 101 class  – http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.htm

mass

Image: http://www.cp24.com/news/three-canadian-fishermen-rescued-off-massachusetts-coast-1.2479081
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Survival Weekly – 6/30/15…

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Image: http://www.estesparknews.com/rmnp_news/article_3e7dc20a-1ea4-11e5-bd88-8f9cdaddb8cc.html

Welcome to another edition of Survival Weekly, where the real wilderness survival “reality show” plays out everyday  in the wild places around our world. These unscripted stories will give you insight to the true threats and challenges you may face in your outdoor pursuits. So sit back, relax, and read on to get a dose of reality to sharpen your most valuable survival tool. – BPO

Featured – 

30 minute hike leads to six day ordeal (thanks Mike for the link) – http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/national/Ontario+couple+walk+backcountry+surprisingly+good/11175703/story.html

News – 

Utah launches SAR card – http://www.parkrecord.com/summit_county-news/ci_28409494/search-and-rescue-card-program-launching-next-week

Nothing funny about prank calls to emergency services – http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/police-hunt-hoax-999-caller-5974015

Malfunctioning cell phone launches SAR – http://www.adn.com/article/20150626/malfunctioning-cellphone-sends-texts-help-ast-launches-helicopter

Inside the CAP – http://www.koaa.com/story/29425094/behind-the-scenes-and-in-the-sky-with-civil-air-patrol

Water Safety – 

Buffalo National River – AR
Swimmer Drowns In High Waters Of Buffalo River

Dispatch received a report on the evening of June 18th advising that a 22-year-old man had disappeared while swimming in the Buffalo River, which was near flood stage at the time of the incident.  The reporting party advised that the man and two companions swam across the river at Grinders Ferry; on their return swim, the victim began struggling, slipped beneath the surface of the river, and disappeared.

Hasty search operations were begun immediately via land and boat and continued until slightly after dark.  Search operations continued the following morning at first light, with efforts focusing on side-scanning, sonar-mounted motorboat operations.  Additional sonar operations continued on Saturday and Sunday, and dive operations were begun on Sunday.

On Monday morning, as dive teams were preparing to enter the water for the second day, District Ranger Mark Miller and Firefighter Tim Baron were making a motorboat sweep patrol to Gilbert when they located the body of the missing swimmer about two miles downstream from Grinders Ferry.  The body had been deposited by the river in a shallow depression on a sandbar about five vertical feet above the water line.

A recovery and investigation team was immediately deployed to that location to recover the body, which was transferred to the Searcy County coroner upon arriving back at Grinders Ferry.  The search and rescue mission utilized a unified command team comprised of the National Park Service and Searcy County Sheriff’s Office. Additional resources came from Mennonite Disaster Services Search and Rescue (Carroll County SAR), the American Red Cross, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Dive Team, Arkansas G&F wildlife officers, Benton County Dive Team, Searcy County Dive Team, BUFFSAR volunteers and numerous park staff.

Dinosaur National Monument
Searchers Recover Body Of Missing Rafter

The body of a missing rafter has been recovered by search and rescue staff from Dinosaur National Monument, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife near Triplet Falls on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. Based on interviews with members of the river group, the following is a summary of the event.

A 16-member private river trip ran Triplet Falls on Saturday, June 20th. After running the rapid, four members of the party hiked back upstream to run a section of the rapid known as the “Birth Canal” with a nine-foot paddle raft. The group made it through the “Birth Canal”, but hit a rock shortly below, and the raft flipped, dumping all four occupants into the river.

The paddle raft was flushed down river and recovered by other members of the group. Three of the rafters were able to swim to shore. The fourth occupant of the paddle raft, a 34-year-old man from Denver, Colorado, was briefly spotted in the water below the “Birth Canal” before he disappeared. Members of the group reported that he appeared to be stuck. The rafting party observed that his personal flotation device (PFD) and one shoe popped to the surface where he was last seen.

Members of the group searched for the missing rafter for approximately one to two hours. They then continued downstream on their rafts to seek assistance. They stopped for the night at Rippling Brook campsite as it was getting dark and did not want to risk rowing in the darkness.

On Sunday, the group arrived at the Echo Park Ranger Station at approximately 11:15 am where they notified a ranger of the incident. Monument staff contacted Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to assemble a response team.

The interagency response team under a unified command left Gates of Lodore by boat to Triplet Falls on Sunday evening. The group arrived at Triplet Falls to begin water-based search and recovery efforts on Monday. The victim was located at approximately 12:30 pm. His body was transported to Echo Park by raft.

Triplet Falls, which has a Class III difficulty rating, is located in a remote portion of Dinosaur National Monument about 12 river miles from the monument’s northern boundary. The area is surrounded by steep canyon walls rising 1,200 feet and higher above the river. There is no cell service in that portion of the monument. River flow was approximately 1,670 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the time of the incident.

SAR for cliff jumper – http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3837376.shtml

SAR for missing kayaker – http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Search-Underway-for-Missing-Boater-in-Fort-Worth-310343061.html

Hiking – 

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV, AZ
Two Rescued From Mine Blocked By Rattlesnake

A man and a boy who entered Ore Car Mine off North Shore Road last Friday were unable to exit due to a rattlesnake blocking their path and called for help.

Rangers responded along with personnel from BLM, Henderson FD and Las Vegas Metro PD SAR. The pair were successfully extricated.

Hiker with heatstroke rescued http://www.kelownanow.com/watercooler/news/news/South_Okanagan/15/06/29/Penticton_Search_and_Rescue_Respond_to_Hiker_with_Heat_Stroke

Lightning strike injures fifteen hikers – http://kdvr.com/2015/06/28/lightning-strike-injures-up-to-16-kills-dog-on-mount-bierstadt/

Lost & Injured hikers rescues –

heatstroke

Image: http://www.kelownanow.com/watercooler/news/news/South_Okanagan/15/06/29/Penticton_Search_and_Rescue_Respond_to_Hiker_with_Heat_Stroke

Hunter-gatherer – 

Missing hunter’s gear found – http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2015/06/29/items-belonging-missing-hunter-found-mountains/29487819/

Climbing – 

New River Gorge National River (WV)
Rangers Conduct Two Same-Day Rescues

Rangers were advised of a falling accident at Beauty Mountain on Tuesday morning. The interagency response team consisted of rangers, VFD members, and local EMS. Due to the nature of the call, an aeromedical helicopter from Air Evac launched and staged at Burnwood Ranger Station.

Rescuers quickly established contact with the injured man, began caring for him, and planned his evacuation. The Fayette County Rope Rescue Team and rangers rigged a technical rope rescue system and brought him to the cliff top via a litter raise. He was carried out to an ambulance and was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The preliminary investigation indicates that he fell from the cliff while down climbing without a rope or climbing gear in order to retrieve his cell phone, which he’d dropped over the cliff the previous evening.

Late that afternoon, the 911 center advised rangers that a woman had gone over Sandstone Falls on the New River.  Park staff responded to the Sandstone Falls visitor use area, while additional rangers responded to Sandstone landing with an NPS patrol boat. The woman and two male friends were spotted on a rock below the falls, and the NPS patrol boat was guided to the location. All three were transported to the shore and evaluated for injuries. The woman suffered minor head injuries, but refused treatment; she was transported to a hospital for follow-up by her friends. Hinton VFD and WV Department of Natural Resources officers assisted with the rescue.

Vehicles – 

 Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV, AZ
Plane Makes Emergency Landing On Park Beach

The pilot of a small plane carrying three passengers made an emergency landing near Lake Mead yesterday with only minor injuries to the occupants.

Just after 5 a.m., park dispatch received a call reporting that a small aircraft had landed at Special Events Beach along Boulder Beach. Rangers and personnel from the Clark County Fire Department, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Community Ambulance responded.

The pilot was flying his three passengers from North Las Vegas to El Paso. The three women, all from the El Paso area, were visiting Las Vegas for the weekend. Two were treated for minor injuries, but none of them were taken to the hospital.

According to the passengers, the plane’s engine stopped running over the mountains along the eastern side of the Boulder Basin. The passengers said the pilot circled back toward Boulder City to avoid landing in the mountains or on the water. They said the plane glided to a landing on Boulder Beach.

The aircraft, a 1979 Piper PA-32R-301 (also known as a Cherokee 6), landed on the beach between two portable restrooms. No facilities were damaged, and it doesn’t appear that there are any fuel leaks from the aircraft.

A portion of Special Events Beach will remain temporarily closed until the aircraft can safely be removed and the investigation by the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board and the park can be completed.

Injured horse rider rescued – http://county10.com/2015/06/29/horse-accident-leads-to-search-and-rescue-on-whiskey-mountain/

Injured biker rescued – http://www.estesparknews.com/rmnp_news/article_3e7dc20a-1ea4-11e5-bd88-8f9cdaddb8cc.html

SAR for missing vessel called off – http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/06/29/islands-focus-aceh-search-and-rescue-ends-8-still-missing.html

Tourist plane crashes in Alaska – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/25/alaska-plane-crash_n_7667966.html

Interested in learning skills to handle emergencies like the ones you read in Survival Weekly?  Check out BigPig Outdoors Survival 101 class  – http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.htm

injured biker

Image: http://www.estesparknews.com/rmnp_news/article_3e7dc20a-1ea4-11e5-bd88-8f9cdaddb8cc.html

Survival Weekly – 8/4/14…

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Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)
Visitor Seriously Injured When Thrown By Mule

On Saturday, July 26th, rangers received an emergency call reporting that a trail rider had been thrown by a mule during a guided trip on the Peekaboo loop trail and been seriously injured.

Rangers assembled a rescue team that included personnel from Garfield County EMS and Tropic Fire and Rescue. A medical team determined that an air evacuation would be needed, as the nearest trauma center is four hours away and the accident had occurred two-and-a-half miles from the nearest trailhead.

A Classic Lifeguard helicopter from Page, Arizona, flew to the park and picked up the injured visitor at a landing zone established by rescuers. The injured visitor was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah, for treatment for a pelvis fracture and shattered collarbone.

 

Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)

Lightning Strike Injures Park Visitor

The park received a report last Monday of a visitor down and unconscious and in need of medical assistance on the Rim Trail. A storm had recently passed through the area, bringing heavy rain and lightning.

Rangers began a hasty search along the trail and found the visitor suffering seizures off to the side of the trail between Sunset and Inspiration Points. Initial signs and symptoms indicated that the visitor had likely been the victim of lightning side splash, as a tree several feet away had recently been struck by lightning.

An ambulance from Garfield County EMS was soon on scene. The patient was transferred to the burn unit at University of Utah Medical Center for further care.

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Missing Hiker Found By Searchers

On the morning of Monday, July 28th, the park received a call advising that a 56-year-old Illinois man was overdue from a climb of Longs Peak.

He’d planned on summiting the peak on the east side on Sunday. Around 4:30 p.m., he called his family and told them that he’d be late getting back to the trailhead. When he failed to show up or call again, they contacted the park.

Members of the park’s search and rescue team began looking for him on Monday morning, retracing what they assumed was his intended route. Just before noon, the man called his family; he said that he was okay, but that he’d had to spend the night on the peak due to severe weather and nightfall. He then resumed his descent in heavy fog in the morning and became lost. He also reported that he might be on Mount Meeker.

A helicopter was brought in to assist in the search and spotted the man below Peacock Pool in the Roaring Fork drainage late in the afternoon. Rangers were nearby and reached him 15 minutes later. He declined medical evaluation and evacuation by helicopter, saying that he wanted to hike out on his own. Ranger led him back to the trail and gave him directions to the trailhead.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Missing 13-Year-Old Hiker Found By Searchers

On the evening of July 28th, the parks’ trail crew found a missing 13-year-old boy who had been separated from his hiking party while in the Arrow Peak (elevation 12,959 feet) area of Kings Canyon National Park on Sunday, July 27th.

The boy stayed overnight at the trail crew camp until he was airlifted out of the Bench Lake area of the park yesterday morning. Prior to the flight, a park medic evaluated him and found him to be uninjured and in good condition.

Dispatch received a call about the missing hiker from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office around 2 p.m. on Monday afternoon. The hiking party had departed from Taboose Pass in the Inyo National Forest and was headed for Bench Lake and Arrow Peak in Kings Canyon National Park.

A search began later that day. Among those participating in the operation were 25 National Park Service staff from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks who searched by ground and helicopter, conducted interviews, and planned for the next day’s operation. 

Incident operations concluded yesterday with 28 NPS employees involved, primarily in getting the boy to the helicopter landing zone and returning searchers to their normal work locations.

 

Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River (NY,PA)
Man Survives Near Drowning In Delaware River

On the afternoon Saturday, July 26th, rangers responded to a non-fatal drowning, often referred to as a near drowning, that occurred at Staircase Rapids.

The victim was a young man who’d entered the water to swim from one raft to another. He was not wearing a life jacket and according to his companions was intoxicated. 

A man in the raft that the victim was swimming toward saw him struggling in the water. He did not know the victim (they had only met that day), but asked others in the raft who did know him if they thought he was alright or needed help. They said that he was okay and that he knew how to swim.

The man in the raft saw the victim’s head bob under the water, though, and believed, correctly, that he was in the process of drowning. He entered the water, wearing his life jacket, swam to the victim and brought him to the Pennsylvania shoreline. The victim was conscious but displaying an altered mental state; it is unclear if this was due to the drowning or intoxication or a combination of both.

The rescuer then swam back across the river to the New York shoreline and ran to Kittatinny Canoes’ Staircase Rapids base and had them call 911. 

Park protection rangers responded via patrol boat along with local police constables and fire and EMS personnel. Lumberland Volunteer Fire Department’s boat was first on scene and took the victim to the ambulance that was waiting at Kittatinny Canoe’s base. The victim was transported to Bon Secours Hospital in Port Jervis, where he was treated and released.

The incident is under investigation.

Lake Mead NRA – NV, AZ

Rangers Rescue Kayaker From Lake Mohave

Around 5 p.m. on July 24th, park dispatch received a call reporting that a man was struggling in the water near Nelson’s Landing on Lake Mohave. Rangers responded by boat and found the man floating motionless, holding onto a kayak.

The man said he was trying to swim across to the Arizona shoreline when the wake of a personal watercraft threw him from his kayak. He claimed he became separated from his life jacket, but no life jacket was found. He also claimed he was floating for around 30 minutes and that no bystanders offered to help.

Witnesses said he was floating in the water for between one and one-and-a-half hours and that an individual tried to rescue him, but that he refused assistance. They also said they did not see him wearing a life jacket.

Winds were 10 to 15 mph, creating six- to twelve-inch waves. Attempting to cross the lake while holding on to a kayak with no life jacket available was extremely hazardous to both the man and to boaters operating in the area. The man ended up more than a quarter mile north of his starting location and approximately 300 yards from shore.

Over the course of the preceding three days, three swimmers drowned in the park. None of them was wearing a life jacket.

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Seriously Injured Man Rescued From Backcountry

On the afternoon of July 25th, the park received a cell phone call from a 31-year-old man who reported that he’d fallen an unknown distance while glissading down Gabletop Mountain and had sustained numerous injuries.

The Forest Service helicopter employed earlier in the day for a body recovery from Longs Peak was utilized for aerial reconnaissance. Using cell phone GPS coordinates, rangers were able to determine his general location below Gabletop Mountain; the helicopter’s crew provided his exact location. 

A rescue operation was begun. Four rangers and rescue equipment were flown to Loomis Lake between severe thunderstorms. They then hiked to his location, a steep cirque above the lake at an altitude of around 11,300 feet, arriving just after midnight. The injured man greatly aided in his rescue by moving down a steep band of rock, then down a steep snow field toward the rangers.  

The rangers found that the man was ambulatory, but that he was suffering from life-threatening  injuries. They lowered him 500 feet with ropes and then assisted him an additional 700 feet down steep mountainous terrain to Loomis Lake.  A paramedic on the park’s rescue team provided advanced life support throughout the incident.

The man was flown to Beaver Meadows Road, then taken by a Flight for Life helicopter to St. Anthony’s Hospital for further treatment.  

Park rescue team members feel this was truly a life-saving mission. The man was fortunate to have cell phone coverage in this remote location, which has very limited coverage.

Glacier National Park
Hiker Shoots Bear On Park Trail

A 57-year-old Texas man was hiking alone on the Mt. Brown Lookout trail last Saturday morning when a bear charged him from below the trail. The man used his bear spray on him, then shot the bear with one round from a handgun he was carrying. Indications are that he hit the bear, which then ran away.

The hiker then headed back to the trailhead, encountering a volunteer backcountry ranger on the trail along the way. The volunteer notified park dispatch of the incident.

Rangers immediately closed the trial and began an investigation. They also staffed the trailhead in order to advise other visitors what had happened. Rangers and bear specialists began a search for the bear, which may be either a grizzly or a black bear.

The bear has not yet been found and the investigation is continuing. The trail remains closed.

Park visitors are encouraged to carry bear spray as a deterrent for a charging grizzly bear. No single deterrent is 100 percent effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved.

SAR for mising hikers – http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/trampers-missing-tararua-ranges/5/198151

Injured hiker rescued – http://www.malibutimes.com/news/article_9e772828-167f-11e4-ad06-0019bb2963f4.html

Injured ATV rider rescued – http://www.nbcmontana.com/sports/atv-rider-rescued-in-gallatin-canyon-area/27181330

Injured climber rescued – http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2014/07/28/otley-chevin-climber-airlifted-after-falling-40ft-while-abseiling

Ultra-runner’s dies from fall –   http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20140728/NEWS01/140729588/Oregon-man-dies-near-Ice-Lakes-

Missing wildland firefighter found – http://www.kaj18.com/news/search-continuing-for-missing-wildland-firefighter-in-montana/

Pilot survives crash –  http://www.vancouversun.com/Search+rescue+crews+look+plane+crash+reported+west+Vernon+updated/10070687/story.html

Birdwatcher forced to spend night out – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58235942-78/canyon-search-lake-salt.html.csp

Multiple SAR’s in Tonto Rim – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58235942-78/canyon-search-lake-salt.html.csp

Dehydrated hikers rescued – http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/chp-rescues-hikers-in-rural-napa-county/article_54c1dcb2-2cf0-57b4-9534-a837c7a5ccc5.html

Miscommunication prompts SAR-  http://www.kelownanow.com/news/news/Local_News/14/07/30/COSAR_Search_Big_White_for_Missing_Man

Missing swimmer not located – http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/rcmp-and-search-and-rescue-members-scour-revelstoke-lake-for-missing-swimmer-1.1940831

ATV rider injured and rescued –   http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_82a76a16-19dd-11e4-b44c-0017a43b2370.html

Injured climber rescued – http://fox13now.com/2014/08/02/search-and-rescue-crews-respond-to-man-who-fell-in-bell-canyon/

Injured climber rescued – http://www.castanet.net/news/Penticton/120340/Climber-rescued-from-canyon

Injured hiker spotted by Life Flight crew – http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=30988748

Campers rescued from flash flood – http://kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_12968.shtml

Injured camper rescued after fall – http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/Wolfe-County-rescue-crews-save-injured-person-at-Red-River-Gorge-269730841.html

 

A Week in the Life of a Wildlife Ranger – Part II…

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Wednesday

Same routine, except today it rains. I finish my chicken book, make a few calls, draw some plants, eat, and relax. Tonight I am headed to Doe Knob.

Two weeks ago, while working a problem bear at Birch Springs, I hunted up to Doe Knob. I was stalking a sow and a couple shoats when the wind shifted and I had to back off. Moments later, I watched through the thermal as three coyotes popped up onto the ridge, ran my hogs off, and ruined my hunt.

“Hogblocked” by coyotes, I don’t know if I should count them as allies or enemies. They migrated to the park naturally, so they do not suffer the same fate as the invasive hogs. That night, Doe Knob was theirs, but tonight I am returning to stake my claim.

Hunt, fish, trap, and forage.

When I created my list of desired activities for when I retired, those rose to the top. Not surprising, as when I am engaged in them, it feels right. Maybe it is the sense of freedom or self-reliance, maybe it is hardwired into my DNA, but I have chosen not to wait twenty years to pursue them. There is nothing natural about leaving meat lay on the ground, but hunting hogs is about as close to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle I can get and still get a paycheck. Maybe one day that will change, but for now I have been hitting a wall of federal restrictions on donating the meat.

Foraging in the park is also illegal, with the exception of berries and mushrooms, but I can still look at the menu. As I hunt west I take note of all the edible plants around. Wild cucumber, carrion flower, spring beauty, trout lily, violets, sheep sorrel, toothwort, branch lettuce, Turk’s Cap Lily, greenbrier tips, chaga mushroom, solomon’s seal, false solomon’s seal, blueberry bushes, beech trees, azalea galls, and a nice big patch of chicken of the woods.

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About a mile from camp I run into my bear again. He is just down off the hill munching on vegetation, so I slip by him unnoticed, making a mental note for later when I return in the dark. In another two weeks one of my co-workers, “Rambo” Ricky, has to shut down Campsite 13 because of this bad boy. He weighs about 200 now, but later this fall he will be pushing 300. He is the badass on this mountain and knows it. When Rick was camping at 13 to dart him, he said he just rolled in and acted liked he owned it.

I make it to Doe Knob right before dark, just in time to hear the coyotes start howling. If I could interpret coyote, I am pretty sure they are telling me to get lost and that this is still their turf. Damn.

I hunt through mostly old sign and cook my dinner on the back side of the knob. These days I carry a little twig stove that allows me to hike out from camp and set up my kitchen for dinner. I used to cook my dinner in camp before heading out, but some fool tore down my rock oven that allowed me to bake, boil, and grill, so I cook on trail now.

I ate many good meals from this kitchen, even though some Leave-No-Trace fans might object. The truth is, I favor fires and managed correctly, think they are more environmentally friendly. Maybe I leave a fire scar for one season before it fades, but I am pretty sure that the byproducts and industry associated with the production of fancy stoves and fuels are worse and last a whole lot longer.

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I hunt the two miles back to camp with no sightings of anything but mice. Glowing white hot in the thermal, the mice run up trees, jump, and disappear like watching some paranormal ghost hunting circus.

Pictured below are a couple deer seen through thermal to give you an idea how animals look. Adding to our effectiveness, night vision and thermal are also a huge safety boon to a program that once sported tractor lights and motorcycle batteries for the night work.

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Just before heading down to camp, I see a boar working his way up the hill. It has been windy all week and tonight is no exception, but I have a cross wind that favors me. I rotate the bezel on the Surefire Millenium to the IR mode, allowing me to illuminate the area, when seen through my NVG, but with no visible light for the hog to see. Although I can clearly see the hog in the thermal, the night vision tells me there is a wall of blackberries between us.

It’s almost two in the morning and I am on top of a ridge line eight miles from my duty station. The wild boar that I have been patiently watching through my thermal monocular for the last hour takes another step. I raise my rifle to look through the night vision, but all I see is a wall of vegetation, even though my quarry is less than 30 feet away. The dance continues.

After over an hour of watching patiently, he makes the fatal mistake of stepping into an open area. The heart of a hog is further forward than a deer, behind the front legs. A well placed shot to the heart can also break the shoulders preventing any tracking or trailing. I dispatch another 200 pounder and wonder why I hunted the four mile roundtrip out to Doe Knob, only to shoot one 100 yards from camp.

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Thursday

 

Same routine, but I today visit the gym, a tree on the bald, to do some pullups, elevated pushups, and planks. Fresh air and free membership.

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Early afternoon, I am visited down at the spring by a father and son camping in the area. Caught off guard by a bearded man drawing wildflowers with an assault rifle strapped to his back, my well rehearsed dialogue, badge, and park service hat assures them that I am not some crazy hillbilly. We make small talk and a couple hours later I see them again when I head to the Bald.

I try to call my wife, but my phone is dead. I bought a solar charger for the mountain back in April, but I only get a trickle of juice out of it. Back in the day before I had a cellphone, I could go a week without seeing or talking to anyone. It didn’t bother me, as I am just as comfortable alone or in a group setting, but it is nice to visit with my new neighbors. I eat my dinner on the Bald and chat with Paul and his son Cole about his time with the government, fatherhood, bears, and plants. My table has the best view.

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Before leaving the Bald, I listen to the weather channel on my radio about the storms headed my way and watch them roll through the mountains north of me. As I head west, the shift in thunder and the wind in my face causes me to hesitate. I don’t wan’t to hike too far from camp. Crossing the bald in a thunderstorm is not something I want to repeat, as I have learned my lesson before.

I turn around and head east as the thunder draws near. I make it across the bald and hear a hog in the beeches. I stalk closer, kneel down in the trail, and wait for it to cross the trail. It comes off the bank and stops with it’s head and shoulder behind a eight inch tree, effectively covering it’s vital areas at 25 yards. The thunder is right above me now, so I stand up and lean out to the side to get a shot in as tight behind the shoulder as I can.

She crashes through the brush and I hear another one just above me. It grunts, and I see the tops of the beeches ripple as it runs through them. It’s course bypasses the shooting lane I am watching, so I bail off the trail to track the first one down.

Tracking through acres of hog sign can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. A thick layer of subcutaneous fat can seal up a bullet hole leaving very little blood to trail, so here is some hard won advice. Before you shoot a game animal, take note of exactly where it was standing. Reference a tree, a rock, or something, because if you don’t drop it, you’ll be hunting for that trail.

With the threat of rain washing away the blood trail, I don’t waste any time. I pick up a good trail and find her about 80 yards down off the hill. The storm is right above me now. I forgo taking a blood sample and decide to double time it back to camp. As soon as I hit the trail, I run.

A half mile isn’t very far, but when you are on top of a mountain in a thunderstorm, it drags out. I make it under the tarp just as the downpour starts. Lightning is cracking off everywhere, so I spend the next hour squatting on a 1′ x 2′ piece of foam. Even though my chances of getting struck by lightning are about the same as winning the lottery, squatting on the foam at least makes me feel like I am doing something to improve my odds. Truth be told, falling limbs and trees are a greater hazard, but there is something about lightning that gets my attention. I ponder the physics of lightning and hammocks, life insurance, and my unborn son, as I wait for the storm to pass.

The storm moves on, but commo says another cell is to the west of me, so I stay in camp. My phone has 1% battery life, so I text my wife that I am okay, before calling her to tell her about the storm. With her ubiquitous carefree nature she asks me if  “was pretty”. I jokingly reply “Hell no!!” and my phone dies. The rain starts again, so I settle in for the night.

Friday

I wake up early. I have eaten all my food, so I break camp, collect my blood samples that I stored in the creek, and head out. It is foggy and right before the bald, I see a dark animal to the right. Bears and hogs are both black, and by the time my brain processes that the ears are pointy and not round, the hog has winded me and taken off.

I drop down into Campsite 13 and talk with Paul and his boy about the storm. I tell Cole that it was one of the worst I had been through up there and at least he has a pretty good story now. They are breaking camp and heading down the same trail, so I lead the way in case we run into any hogs, which we don’t. I point out a few plants and animal tracks on the way down and enjoy the company.

Back at the truck, I head to the station to process my blood samples and fill out some data forms for each hog. The Dragon’s Tail is littered with branches and broken trees, confirming the power of last night’s storm, and while charging my phone, I receive two texts from Thursday afternoon.

One from my old supervisor asking if I was available to run the boat on a rescue down on Fontana Lake and another one from my current boss that warned me of impending doom. Maybe it is time to start shopping for a new solar charger.

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My week is done and I reflect upon it as I head to the house. It may be hard for readers of this blog to believe, but we have had guys quit our crew because they hated camping on the mountain. I even know of one case where a hunter pretended he was up high by calling in and out of service from the station. The “mountain” is not for everyone, but for me it is a good fit.

Even though I am using modern tools, it gives me a glimpse into a primal lifestyle and a peace and relaxation that sings to my soul. An ancient song that is calling us all back…

 

Part I – https://bigpigblog.com/2014/06/18/a-week-in-the-life-of-a-wildlife-ranger-part-i/