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R.I.P. Chlorophyll Darkness gathers, daylight hours diminish, temperatures dwindle…the final curtain call for our faithful green-colored compatriot. Alas it is true, chemical reactions cease, photosynthesis becomes but a memory, and the true colors of carotenoids and anthocyanins begin to shine. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then look out the window. Better yet, come to the Granlibakken Hut on Monday, October 5th, at 6:00pm for TNSAR’s first official meeting of the 2009-2010 search season. Newcomers and old-timers will be on hand for impromptu botanical lectures, free form imbibing of fermented adult beverages, speed dating (nope, sorry that’s at the next meeting), and the simultaneous stretch of stomach muscles whilst we gorge on Debra Schroepfer’s latest culinary delight for the masses. Hard to believe but October is here folks! See ya’ll at the Hut.
Summer “Fun” in The Sierras Once again TNSAR had quite a busy summer search season. Were it not for a dead battery my pager would have gone off at least three, maybe four times. On July 13th, TNSAR responded to a call for two hikers missing somewhere up Shirley Canyon in Squaw Valley. The two hikers, one Homo sapien the other Canis familiaris, went missing after the all-too-familiar short cut left them stranded on the steep, rocky detritus below High Camp. Thanks to GPS coordinates radioed in from a hovering Careflight helicopter and assistance from the Squaw Valley Fire Department, TNSAR members were able to extricate the wayward hikers. A second call when out on July 31st, for two men hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail near the top of the Whiskey Creek drainage. Though not at all lost, one of the two hikers suffered from dehydration and exhaustion and was unable to continue hiking. A call to 911 yielded yet another Careflight helicopter to the scene where the incapacitated hiker was air-lifted to safety. TNSAR members arrived on scene to assist the other hiker who was also air-lifted off the crest. In true TNSAR fashion, the rescue volunteers hiked out all by themselves and downed piping hot hamburgers at the Blue Coyote in Squaw Valley, courtesy of the…waitress. TNSAR pagers also went off on August 16th, for a missing hiker on the Tahoe Rim Trail somewhere betwixt Brockway Summit and Tahoe Meadows. Three hikers originally set out on the hike, but the slowest hiker became separated from the other two. Much to his credit, the solo soloist hunkered down in his sleeping bag as darkness engulfed the trail. The other two hikers made it to the relay towers above Incline Lake and called 911 to report their missing buddy. Shortly thereafter TNSAR members started hiking east on the Rim Trail from Brockway Summit while Washoe County SAR members started hiking west from Tahoe Meadows. Somewhere in between, TNSAR members located the missing lad who was busy enjoying the nightly meteor showers. The rescuers and rescuee then hiked back out to Brockway Summit. The meteor showers continued uninterrupted.
10-80-10 According to a well studied theory, 10 percent of the people in a disaster pull themselves together quickly, 80 percent remained stunned and bewildered, and 10 percent simply freak out. And if you want to survive a disaster (e.g. getting lost in the woods in the middle of a blinding snow storm) you better be in the first 10 percent. World renowned survival psychologist Dr. John Leach says it all boils down to the prefrontal cortex. The PFC (I just made that up) is the part of the brain that helps you decide what do to when a traffic light turns yellow, hurry up and go or slow down and stop, depending on stored memory already floating around in our brains (I didn’t make that up). But in stressful environments like disasters another part of our brain, the amygdala, competes with the PFC. Getting back to that yellow light, the PFC would generally try to coax you to slow down and stop (remembering that traffic ticket you got last year from running a red light) while the amygdala would generally try to coax you to stop the car in the middle of the intersection and run screaming from the vehicle with your hands in the air (remembering that your Father is going to whip your fanny if you get another traffic violation). The PFC acts to regulate our moods and ensures that we make sound decisions. The amygdala fuels our fears and emotions by altering our brain chemistry. According to Ben Sherwood, author of the book The Survivors Club, there are secrets and some serious science behind those secrets that can help people get out of that last 10 percent (run away!) and into that first 10 percent (never mind the flames coming out of the engine, stay calm people, put your oxygen mask on first and then help your child with theirs). Apparently the people who read the book but failed to receive a passing grade on their essay exam are in the stunned and bewildered 80 percent group. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds incredibly worthwhile for our line of work.
WDYDWYD is a world-wide community art project whose sole purpose is to answer the simple question: “…why do you do what you do?” They are just a group of artists asking that simple question and posting the answers on-line and in traveling collages of photographs. What does it have to do with TNSAR? Nothing. Though it is a very interesting concept and it just might lead YOU to try and answer that question in a TNSAR context. Why do you volunteer as a search and rescue member? For the fame? For the free beer? Is it some wintry form of altruism? Is it out of guilt? Is it because the only time your phone rings is when the pagers go off? Why do you do it? Do you secretly benefit from going on searches? Is it…shame on you…fun? There are a myriad of reasons why people like you show up at the Granlibakken Hun season after season. And all of them are good, all of them are valid reasons. But the bottom line is this…Thank You…Were it not for you, and you and you and you and you, we wouldn’t be.