|Me in a Blackhawk|
Our general territory is huge, around 3,200 square miles, though most of our activity is in the Ventana Wilderness/Los Padres National Forest or on the rugged Big Sur coast. Our missions include searches for lost hikers, assistance to injured hikers, body recoveries of suicides off Bixby Bridge or of the occupants of cars that drive over the coastal cliffs, the occasional evidence search. We assist other teams throughout California (mutual aid) thanks to our affiliation with the Mountain Rescue Association.
|A search area|
Then there's the mutual aid search for a 72-year-old lost hunter who was missing for eighteen days all told, which you can read about in this story. Although SAR didn't find him, he was found, alive and well, and it felt a bit like a miracle. It reminds me never to underestimate the staying power of someone who's lost, no matter his age.
Then again, one of our most recent calls was a search for a 76-year-old day hiker, who has still not been found. We don't have any idea where he was headed, which is a problem. We searched the likely areas. Unfortunately, some mysteries are never resolved.
Today there was a call to a trail—a very bad trail—I was just yesterday talking about with someone familiar with the area: Soberanes Canyon. An injury (probably a broken ankle: that's what happens at Soberanes). I was not able to respond, as I was on a hike elsewhere. If I had been home, I would have responded eagerly: it's been too long since I've been on a SAR mission.