|Top of the Hill||Boots and Blisters||Mini Lesson|
|Public Relations||Bronze Boot||Web News|
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|| Callout Information
|Top of the Hill||by Larry Mervine|
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.
|Boots and Blisters|
|Hike of the Month||David Canyon||0730, Aug 29, 1998|
|Trailhead: Starts on private land-see description for meeting place|
|R.T. Distance: 7.5 miles||Elevation Min/Max: 6860/7640|
|Hiking Time 4 hours||Hazards:|
|Topo Maps: Escabosa Quadrangle|
|Mini Lesson -- Topo Map Reading||by Tom Russo|
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.
Put simply, here's how some commonly observed terrain features translate into contour lines:
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.
|Public Relations||by Susan Corban|
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.
|Bronze Boot||by Mike Dugger|
|Web News||by Tom Russo|
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