|Top of the Hill||by Adam Hernandez|
This month we will be having an all day evaluation. On September 22, we will try and get as many members evaluated as possible. As an incentive I will be providing an Nano Ipod to one lucky perticipant. For every evaluation you take, you get one chance to win. If you evaluate a section you get two chances. At the end of the evaluations I will pull one name from all the tickets and present the Ipod to the lucky winner. I expect that this eval day will last all day. You don't have to come to all the evals. You don't have to be present to win. You do need to be a least a prospective member to win. We will take a few minutes for lunch, so bring something to eat. So come prepared.
Now, I have some names of people that have already said they would like to be an evaluator, but I could use a couple more. If you are interested in helping out, e-mail me.
Also, next year is coming fast, so if you are interested in becoming an officer or a member of one of the committees please contact any officer.
Also, anyone even thinking about becoming an Field Coordinator in the future should REALLY think about attending the Field Coordinator school in Oct. Contact any officer or Bob Baker to find out what this entails.
Also, we still have Sportsman's Warehouse coupons in the book bin, so if any of you need them, take them.
|Boots and Blisters||by Tony Gaier|
September’s training is a litter training on September 16th. It will be located at Chamisoso Canyon starting at 9:00AM.
October’s training is a search training on October 13th. It will be located at Strip Mine Trailhead starting at 9:00AM.
The November’s training is on the 10th at Piedra Lisa SouthTrailhead. It is a navigation training and starts at 9:00AM.
The December’s training is on the 16th at Three Gun Spring Trailhead. It is a Litter Handling training and starts at 9:00AM.
The September pre-meeting training is cancelled.
Updates have been made to the training schedule, please check it often for newly posted information.
If you have any questions or concerns with upcoming training events please call or email me.
|Who's Who and New||by Mike Dugger|
|by Tom Russo|
It's been a while since anyone's posted a member spotlight, long enough that many might have even forgotten that we used to do them. I've already done two of these in the last eleven years, but some of you might not be obsessive compulsives like me who go back and read all the old newsletters, so I figure I'll re-introduce myself.
If you can't tell from how I talk, I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I lived there through high school and college, escaped to the United States in 1986 to go to gradual school at the University of Texas at Austin, then returned to New York in 1990 to finish my Ph.D. in chemical Physics at Columbia University. I desperately wanted to leave New York for good by then --- it's simply too crowded for me, as I am basically a hermit at heart. I took a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1992, and then moved to my current job at Sandia National Laboratories at the end of 1995. At the moment I work on software to simulate large electronic circuits in a variety of hostile environments.
I have had several friends around the country who have been involved in search and rescue over the years, and it always fascinated me. I never had the opportunity to pursue it until I moved to Albuquerque to work at Sandia. I joined Cibola SAR in 1996, moments after reading about it in the Sandia monthly newsletter. The article was all about how the team trains, had a picture of Mike Dugger practicing using a sighting compass (at the time, members referred to this as the "Popeye" picture), and the team's new web site address. I think I was the first person to sign up with the team through the web page. At that time, the team web site was stuck behind a Sanda firewall, and could only be accessed by those of us that worked at the lab. It wasn't long before I helped the previous webmaster move the site to its current location at Southwest Cyberport, and when she left the team a year later I took over as webmaster and rewrote a bunch of the scripts to handle more complex databases than it originally had. These features remain today, in somewhat cleaner form after a complete rewrite this year.
At the time I joined, the team was grappling with the issue of how to define itself --- there was a lot of concern that the team had no way to show that its members had any of the skills the team claimed to be able to provide. After months of discussion at meetings, I volunteered to chair the "Standards Committee" in 1997, and the results of that committee are what you see today as the team's membership criteria (litter, search techniques, and navigation evaluations). It took a while to convince members that these standards were a move forward, but it eventually happened and you know the rest of the story.
I've served the team as an officer a few times --- for two years as training officer (1999 and 2000) and one year as president (2001). I'm proud to see that some of the training materials I developed during my stint as training officer are still being used as resources by those who have followed, and look forward to seeing others develop materials that stick around, too. Our current team by-laws were adopted during my term as president. During my first year as training officer I attended section chief school and was certified as a planning section chief. In 2000 I, along with 13 other team members, took a Wilderness First Responder class at the UNM EMS Academy, becoming recognized first responders with the NM Department of Health EMS Bureau.
In 2003 I injured my back, suffering two herniated disks in my lumbar spine. This was an extraordinarily painful injury that left me barely able to walk a hundred yards without searing pain. At that time it seemed as if my days as a grunt were completely over, and indeed, I let my field certification with Cibola lapse and haven't gotten it back yet. During that time I decided to stick with SAR in more of a management capacity; I began attending missions as a planning section chief, and took the 2003 Field Coordinator school, at which point I was made a Type IV field coordinator and eligible to be incident commander on NMSP District 5 missions. I've since added Operations section chief training and been promoted to a Type III FC --- in theory that is supposed to mean I'm allowed to take on more difficult missions, but in reality they throw us all at whatever mission there is because there's not enough of us to stick to strict typing.
Shortly after becoming a field coordinator, I joined the New Mexico Search and Rescue Support Team, the folks we see at nearly every mission running communications and other base camp support. I am currently serving my second year as a member of the board of directors of that team; this year I'm its vice-president.
In 2006 I attended the National Search and Rescue Inland Planning School along with Bob Baker and quite a few other field coordinators from around the state. This is a fascinating course for those who are interested in the management end of SAR, very different from the types of training most of us have gotten in recent years. I highly recommend it if you're interested in that aspect of this hobby.
Fortunately, my back injury has finally healed, I've shed all the excess weight I gained during my less-mobile years (and then some), and I'm back to hiking, climbing, running, and generally being physically ready for missions. I still haven't completed all the evaluations I'll need to get rid of that pesky "NFC" next to my name on the call-out roster, but I plan to do so by the end of this year. You'll still see me on missions from time to time before then, either as Incident Commander, a section chief, or in the field as a member of SAR Support or the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council, which I joined in April of this year.
I live in the east mountains (technically the village of Yrissari, but in Tijeras as far as the post office is concerned) with my 16-year old daughter Kat, my girlfriend, Susan, an assortment of dogs and cats, a room full of computers and radios, and a bunch of trees. It's not quite a cave with an internet feed, but it's almost the hermitage I need.
|Web News||by Tom Russo|
You might not have noticed, but the team newsletter does allow for member contributions. There are three major sections that are intended for members to post articles: "Minilesson", "Feature Article" and "Member Spotlights." Mini-lessons should mostly be informative articles about SAR topics, but feature articles can be just about anything, such as this month's trip report by Steve Buckley. Article submission is done through the web site on the members-only newsletter page. Just click the "Submit, edit or delete a newsletter article" option. It'll tell you which articles are available for you to create. If you have questions about submitting articles, please just drop me a note. Your articles may be subject to editing for length and/or content, but are usually given only minimal editing for formatting.
After first publication, mini-lessons are usually migrated to a separate web page and linked to from Minilessons link on our home page. Minilessons are among the most popular features of our web site, and attract a lot of visitors.
If you develop training materials and want to post them on the web for team members to view, please contact me. The training handouts we have on the web site are getting a little long-in-the-tooth, so it would be good to start developing new ones with more modern material.
|Statewide SAR Notes||by Tony Gaier|
The August NMESC board meeting was held on the 18th. Some of the remaining board/chair positions were filled. One of which was the ESCAPE 2008 Chairperson, for which I volunteered. The board position that came open at the last meeting was filled at this meeting. John VanDreese from Philmont SAR was the lucky individual selected for the position. The "Boot Camp Training" originally planned for September has been moved to October 20th and 21st. The location will hopefully be here in ABQ, but details are still in the works. The issue of reimbursements from the State (primarily gas expense reimbursements) being late or in some cases lost, has been taken on as an issue to be address by the Board. This is a major problem with SAR teams throughout the State. More details to follow, also check the NMSAR forum for additional information in the near future. If there are any issues or concerns that you would like addressed at the state level, please email or call, I would gladly bring them up at our next meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for October 6th. The meeting is open to the public (meaning you!), it will be at the State Police District office (Carlisle and I-40, next to Rudy’s).
|Feature Article||by Steven Buckley|
I recently attended a conference on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. I took the opportunity to take some time off and explore the islands with my wife. The main attractions for me in Hawaii are the volcanoes. The Hawaiian Islands were formed then the continental plate slowly moved over a volcanic vent. Subsequent movement formed each island. The island of Hawaii, AKA “The Big Island”, is the place for high mountains and flowing lava. We spent one night on Kauai and then flew to Hawaii. Jan and I settled in at our hotel (A “resort” hotel on the beach…with high-end amenities and price!) We explored a bit, had dinner and I packed for my solo climb early the next day. One thing to note if you want to try Mona Kea is that the rental agencies on Hawaii do not want their cars to go to the top of Mona Kea. This is reasonable as the road is rough and the altitude extreme. What is not so reasonable is that many do not want you to drive Saddle Road which bisects the island between Mona Kea and Mona Loa. Saddle Road is an old military road. It appears to have been a one-lane road that was widened. The center of the road is smoothly paved. There are strips about 4-6 feet wide on each side of the smooth paving that is paved but not as smooth. This is obviously a poorly executed attempt to widen the road. I discussed my plans with my rental company (took several phone calls and detailed explanation of the limits of the rental car agreement when I rented the car) to ensure I could drive it to the visitor center at 9,200 feet. The route is all paved with Saddle Road being a winding smooth to rough paved road crossing open fields followed by a nice, modern two-lane road to the visitor center. There is some road work being completed that may improve Saddle Road. I did not drive it but I suspect the road to Hilo is a nice modern two-lane road in good shape. In any case, Saddle Road is a mountain road that should be respected and driven with care to avoid collisions. Anyone experienced in driving New Mexico mountain roads should have no trouble.
I arrived at the visitor center before it opened and prepared my gear for the climb. The visitor center not only supports climbers but has an outstanding astronomy program. I was a little confused at where the trailhead began. A ranger named Pablo came over and showed me the location of the trailhead. Pablo turned out to be a great help. We discussed the trail and he gave me an idea of what to expect. He said he thought it would take 4 hours. The trail is 6 miles and about 4700 feet altitude gain. I said that sounded about right. The reality is that it took me about 5 hours of climbing plus a one-hour rest stop at beautiful Wal’au Lake at 13,000 feet. The trail had starts a few hundred feet up the paved road from the visitor center. Turn left off the road on what appears to be a dirt road. The trailhead is marked with a sign that says “Humu’ula Trail”. Please don’t ask me to pronounce ANY Hawaiian name. The trail is well marked and easy to follow. The trail surface varies from dirt to gravel with only a few areas where the rocks might be considered a minor tripping hazard. For the most part, the trail is easy to follow and conducive to moderate to fast hiking speeds. The most striking things about this trail are the views. Mona Loa lies to the south, a monster shield volcano, massive and magnificent. The trail offers occasional views of the road (8 miles long and a combination of paved and gravel roads).
The extensive astronomical observatory facilities at the top are not visible until past Lake Wai’au at 13,000 feet. I will never stand on the surface of Mars but I know what it is like. The terrain closely matches the photos returned from Mars in color and consistency. With the exception of the sky, the illusion was compelling.
Humu’ula Trail Views
Part way up the trail is a pile of grey rocks. These rocks are very different than the surrounding rocks and are consolidated into a single pile. I did not realize it at the time but this was an ancient quarry used to make rocks for stone tools. Mona Kea stone was considered the best in the islands. The trail snakes up through large boulders and summits a small ridge. From this point you can see the summit area. The actual summit and observatories are still not visible. This point is just under 13,000 feet. There are a series of hills ahead with the trail just visible snaking between a hill and a cinder cone (Pu’u Hau Kea). This stretch requires you to reach down and keep chugging. As you enter the pass, the trail goes left and right. Turning left leads to the beautiful Lake Wai’au. Turning to the right continues to the summit. Go left! The lake was formed by a glacier something like 15,000 years ago. Snow and rain have kept it full. Hawaiians used to hike up here to throw the umbilical cord of their infant sons into it to ensure a long, robust life. There is a Hawaiian shrine at waters edge. This is a great place to take a breather. In my case, I had lugged my carcass up 3,800 feet, most above 10,000 feet, and needed to rest, eat and drink. I could not have picked a better place. I spent about ½ hour there.
I continued up and past the saddle and got my first look at the top of the mountain and observatories. I just topped 13,000 feet. The top of Mona Kea is covered with something like 13 observatories and a dozen dish antennas. There is a road junction here and you need to make a choice. Go right and you steeply climb about a mile to the summit up a paved road. Go left and you follow a paved road of lower grade for about 1.5 miles past the telescopes. The Keck telescope, the largest in the world, is here as is the national observatory of Japan. As you can expect, the telescopes are the king here and there are signs everywhere warning about creating dust and keeping away from the telescopes. The Keck telescope (there are two in twin domes) does have a visitor center…a hallway with some graphics with access to a restroom. I found the telescopes to be very interesting. I signed up to get more information on the Keck telescopes via E-mail.
Last Grind to the Trail to the Summit
After visiting the Keck “Visitor’s Center” there is a moderately steep road to the older telescopes near the summit. This one is a bit of a death march without a view of the summit to spur you on. Believe it or not I got snowed on with BB snow on this road. Not enough to get wet but enough to say I got snowed on in Hawaii. Keep climbing and go around the telescopes and the summit becomes visible. The first view of the summit shows that there is one last challenge to overcome. The trail leads over a guard rail and descends maybe 50-100 feet to a saddle before heading up to the summit. It looks worse than it is. Keep slogging!
Trail to the Summit
Most people who summit this mountain either drive (there is one rental company that will let you drive to the summit in 4WD vehicles) or take a tour. The tours are pricy (~$200 each person) and include a ride to the top, loaner parka, dinner, and some telescope viewing. For me, driving or touring was out of the question. I summited on (taking leap years into account and at my age you have to) the day I turned 50 years old. The event meant much to me. Some young folks from Colorado summited just after me and took a photo using my camera. The view was spectacular and my feeling of accomplishment was complete. If you must drive up there then do so. Standing on the top of the tallest mountain in the world is a great experience. Doing so after the challenge of the climb was even better. On the way down I got a ride from the kids from Colorado to the summit junction and then got one from Pablo as he headed down the mountain. Pablo and I had a great conversation about living on the mountain with the visiting astronomers “their quarters have plumbing that works…”, maintaining the road, the telescopes and the mountain weather (wind fast enough to require holes in the signs, snow, ice). All-in-all it was a great trip. Maybe some day I’ll do it again starting with my feet in the Pacific and ending on the summit. Now that would be a trip!
|Disclaimer and Copyright Notice||the Editors|
The contents of this newsletter are copyright © 2007 by their respective authors or by Cibola Search and Rescue, Inc., and individual articles represent the opinions of the author. Cibola SAR makes no representation, express or implied, with regard to the accuracy of the information contained in these articles, and cannot accept any legal responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions that may be made. Articles contained in this newsletter may be reproduced, with attribution given to Cibola SAR and the author, by any member of the Search and Rescue community for use in other team's publications.