Lost and Found... the newsletter of Volume 3, Issue 8
13 August 1998
Editors: Tom Russo, Mike Dugger,
and Mickey Jojola

Cibola Search and Rescue
"That Others May Live..."
Top of the Hill Boots and Blisters Mini Lesson
Public Relations Bronze Boot Web News
Classified Ads Disclaimer Recent Missions
Callout Information
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Top of the Hill by Larry Mervine
Mission 980513 started as most missions do, with the pager beeping early in the morning. Do I really want to get up? Besides too many things to do and someone else will go. Well, I guess I'll go and spend about four hours and then go home. Besides they said it was attempted suicide and the subject does not want to live, why should I care? The base camp was at the turnout just before Sandia Ski Area. It had rained heavily the day before and the sky was still cloudly and the temperature was cool. We were told at base camp the subject was having personal problems. Also was shown a note book with pages of a person looking for answers. The last page clearly stated the subject had decided that ending her life was the best solution.

At base camp we were sent out looking for areas from which a person might jump. Three teams were sent out into the field. The terrain was very steep and wet from the rain, making footing harzardous. After about 45 minutes Team 2 spotted a rockly cliff area and was traveling in that direction. I was on Team 3, I could see Team 2 search around the rockly cliff area. Team 1 was also approaching the area Team 2 was searching. Both teams had been calling the subject, but were getting no response. Then suddenly just a few feet from Team 2 a response was heard. The subject later said she had come to this spot to end her life. What made the subject finally respond? The subject could not answer that question. Team 2 spend 45 minutes with the subject and listened her problems. Then Team 2 members said it was time to go, and the subject agreed to come with them. Who were these compassionate Cibola team members? Ryan, Jason and Mike. The Incident Commander, Gary Williams said we could be proud that we saved a life today. So when we see Ryan, Jason and Mike, let's tip our hats and say thanks for a job well done. We never know what to expect when we respond to a call, maybe we'll save a life.

See you out there.

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Boots and Blisters

Hike of the MonthDavid Canyon0730, Aug 29, 1998
Trailhead: Starts on private land-see description for meeting place
R.T. Distance: 7.5 milesElevation Min/Max: 6860/7640
Hiking Time 4 hoursHazards:
Topo Maps: Escabosa Quadrangle
Since this hike starts on private land and crosses over a portion of the Isleta Reservation, Cibola SAR members must join us on Saturday, August 29 in order to access the route. Meet at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, August 29 at the fire station on South 14 (not the fire station on rt. 66). From I-40 take exit 175 (Tijeras/Cedar Crest), bear right on the exit ramp until you come to the four-way stop at Tijeras. Continue straight on 337 (south 14), for about ten miles. The fire station will be on your left. I'll meet you there and drive another two miles to where we will begin the hike. I'll wait until about 7:45 to leave the fire station. Climb the top of the ridge to the boundary of the Isleta Reservation behind the Apple Valley neighborhood then drop down into Lujan Canyon, pass the end of Carolino Canyon, then drop into Largo Canyon. Through Lujan and Largo Canyons the route follows the old dirt road that eventually drops all the way to the Pueblo of Isleta in the valley to the west. From Largo Canyon travel north into David Canyon, crossing back onto National Forest land. Follow David Canyon to one of the trails leading out of the canyon up to Raven Road or the Mars Court parking area.
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Mini Lesson -- Topo Map Reading by Tom Russo
This minilesson is mostly a re-working of the training handout that Mike Dugger and I used for our land navigation training in July; while the by-line above shows only my name, I would like to acknowledge Mike's role in preparing that handout. The training went well, at least from the point of view of the instructors, but pointed out to us that there is a strong need in the team for intensified practice in topographic map reading.

A quick overview of the training might be helpful here. We met for a little more than an hour and had a classroom presentation of basic information about map and compass use, and then we drove over to Bear Canyon trailhead to do a field exercise. The field exercise began with participants dividing up into teams and using resection to find their initial location. Once this was done teams were shown a map of the area on which we had marked certain locations. The teams had to use their knowledge of where they were, their maps and their compasses to navigate to the marked locations and find markers we had placed there.

Surprisingly, the most difficult part of this course appeared to be the resection exercise. Specifically, most of the problem seemed to stem from members having trouble associating the terrain features in front of them with the squiggly lines on the map --- without being certain that a given squiggle is a given hill, it is rather difficult to pinpoint your exact location.

The purpose of this article, then, is to highlight some aspects of topographic map reading to help you think about the problems inherent in using these maps in the field.

Map Skills

Map symbols

I have not yet obtained publisher's permission to reprint the table of map symbols which I used in our training handout, so I'm not including it here. But better than that figure is the US Geological Survey pamphlet "Topographic Map Symbols," which may be obtained for free wherever USGS maps are sold. I highly recommend getting a copy for your map kit.

Topographic Maps, contours, and feature recognition

Elevation features are described on maps by use of contour lines. A contour line on a map is the line you would trace out on the terrain if you were to walk along a path of constant elevation. Making the mental translation from contour lines on a map to the terrain around you takes practice, and this article cannot possibly be a substitute for that practice.

Put simply, here's how some commonly observed terrain features translate into contour lines:

Here are some examples of how terrain features are translated into contours, taken from a USMC training manual:

Common Pitfalls

Now that we touched on the easy stuff, it's time to consider the things that we didn't cover in the classroom portion of our training, and which were obviously a problem for team members participating in the training.

One tendency we observed --- and not just in the participants, mind you --- was an eagerness to identify little crosses and elevation markings on the map with prominent pointy things in the field. By doing so, some of our teams managed to "pinpoint" their initial location in a triangle with an area of about a square kilometer, the nearest corner of which was as much as a kilometer away from the true initial location. One might reasonably consider that to be insufficient accuracy. The problem here is in trying to identify a single point on the map to a single point in the world, without considering all the additional shape information that the topo map is providing. In one particular instance, team members were claiming that a particular elevation marking on the map was the highest nearby hill, without noticing that the elevation marking in question was clearly surrounded by contours of higher elevation, meaning that the marked point was really just a knoll on a spur on the side of a much larger hill --- in fact the hill they were trying to identify with that point was a good 200 feet higher in elevation.

Another pitfall caught some of the participants: sometimes a big, prominent hill makes a lousy landmark for a resection exercise. How can that be? Well, if the hill in question is close, relatively flat at the top, and pretty tall then the "peak" you're looking at might not actually be the spot marked with an X on the map. This is because the true peak might be obscured from view, or might be too subtle a "peak" to be detectable (e.g. a 40 foot high knoll in the middle of a 1000 foot circle of relatively flat, tree covered hill). The problem in this case can be avoided by comparing the shape of what you're actually looking at with the contour lines on the map --- seeing that the terrain surrounding what you're calling the "peak" does not have the same shape that the map says it should would be a good indication that you're looking at a different part of the hill than you might have guessed.

A further error we observed was in attempting to identify really neat curvy bits of contour lines with terrain features --- the base of a spur, or the mouth of a draw would be good examples. The problem here is that it's rather difficult to pinpoint such an indistinct terrain feature: they tend to be at points where the mountain is flattening out, and so are more "area features" than "point features" and what looks like a nice sharp "V" on the map may not be so distinct at the base of the hill. Remember that it's hard to see contour lines in the real world --- perhaps others have better eyesight, but as far as I can tell God drew them in in disappearing ink.

When reading a topo map, try not to look at the terrain around you and make quick identifications of peaks. Rather, look at the map and try to reconstruct the vertical shape of the terrain and match that to the things around you.

In a future minilesson, possibly in an alternate universe where there are 27 hours in a day, I would like to print up photographs of some of our training areas and corresponding sections of USGS quadrangles. But in the meantime, try to get in the habit of bringing a good topo map along with you when you stroll around familiar areas of the Sandias. Practice reading the shape of terrain from the contour lines in addition to trying to pick out familiar peaks. It's harder than it sounds, and sadly a written, sparsely illustrated lesson cannot do the subject justice.

Self Test on Topo Map Reading

Now that you've seen how contours relate to terrain features, try this self-test. Match the contours on the left with the terrain on the right.

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Public Relations by Susan Corban
You can get tied up in a litter, make little children squeal, gather statistics or go to camp--all in the name of CSAR PR.

The PR committee is getting off to a new start. By the time this goes to press we'll have met and assessed our resources, set some goals, brainstormed community contacts, and discussed new member recruitment. We can use everyone's input, however. If you know of a corporate program or a special event in the community where Cibola could make a presentation or staff an information table, let us know. Or, if you have a school or scout contact, we'd be happy to pursue the lead. We'll also be developing some new materials such as outdoor tips for parents and a presentation for adults.

On the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday, August 22 and 23, Cibola will staff an information table and present canine search demonstrations at the East Mountain Rendezvous. Mary Berry, David Dixon, Terry Hardin, Mickey Jojola and Ellie Robinson have all volunteered. Thanks! Look for the "orange-wear" section in the outdoor displays next to the Mounted SAR folks. There's room for more, if you can give us a couple of hours.

In an effort to attract UNM students, staff and faculty to search and rescue work, we'll staff a table at the University's Community Service Day. Friday, August 28 from about 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. we'll join the University's Welcome Back Days. Let's see if Ryan, Jason and Don E. have any colleagues with the same enthusiasm and dedication. Back to Top
Bronze Boot by Mike Dugger
I would like to nominate Ryan Jackson for a bronze boot award. Ryan's cool composure and excellent communication skills during the mission where we found the potential suicide subject contributed directly to the successful outcome of that mission. Back to Top
Web News by Tom Russo
At long last I've got the new database for mission logs on-line. If you're a member, you can check them out under "Experimental Mission Logs Database," and soon the old "Mission Logs" link will turn into an "Old Mission Logs" link. The new setup keeps track of who attended missions, so when you call up a member's record you also see the missions they've attended, and when you call up a mission you see who went on it. Back to Top
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Disclaimer the Editors
The information in this newsletter was gathered from many sources and presents facts as we believe them to be true. This newsletter is not meant to be an official document, but a means to disseminate team information.