Saturday, October 11, 2014

SAR Hasty Deployment Hike 10-11-14

Dale Matson
Click Photographs To Enlarge
Route From My Suunto Ambit As A Screenshot

This is the second time this year the civilian Mountaineering Unit of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team had its session of hasty deployment training. Once a year, each civilian team member is required to hike an eight-mile loop trail in the San Joaquin River Gorge area as a part of mission readiness. Each participant has a backpack with a minimum weight of 25 pounds and must cover the 8-mile loop trail in less than 3 hours. There are rattlesnakes this time of year too and loose free-range cattle to avoid. Yes, the San Joaquin River is still flowing through the gorge and under the bridge.

Russ With Briefing Before Hike

This time for me was the test of a 70-year-old man and I recorded a 2:27 for the course. At least I finished ahead of the trail sweep. This is four minutes slower than the last time. This was a relatively fast group combination of veterans and new candidates. Kyle crushed the course in about 1:23 with no one else even breaking 2 hours.

There was also a larger group that had gathered for high angle rescue training and I passed by them inbound above the gorge near the bridge. They yelled encouragement. The sweep kept asking me if I was OK. My ‘normal’ gait looks like an injury to younger folks.

Bridge Over San Joaquin River

The trailhead begins at about 1,000’ and drops down to where it crosses the San Joaquin at an elevation of 600’. This is the low point in the trail as you cross the footbridge. From there the trail rises to about 1,800’ at about the midpoint of the loop with a great view and then begins descending toward the river again. As you cross the bridge, you are facing the 400’ climb on legs that are no longer fresh. This time the temperature was about 80 degrees at the finish.

It is good to see how far this team has come and I am proud to still be a part of it even though I am not involved in high angle rescue or swift water rescue. Some day I will probably assist with transportation when I can no longer hike off trail.

 San Joaquin River Below

Powerhouse Area

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