Monthly Archives: February 2012

Red Rock Search and Rescue

New recruits listen intently to Cummings' presentation.

Tonight was the first official meeting of Red Rock Search and Rescue. It was held at the meeting room at the Boca Park REI and was split in to two sessions to accommodate the over 55 people in attendance. Commander David Cummings introduced the crowd to the reason for the existence of the group and what he hoped the organization could contribute to the community.

Important to Cummings was that the attendees understood that the group was born out of the recent search efforts to find missing hiker Ron Kirk. An intense search to find Kirk was conducted by Metro SAR, but after no signs of the missing hiker an with constraints on resources, the search was brought to an end. But local hikers and outdoor enthusiasts were not ready to quit.

RRSAR Commander David Cummings

Hundreds if volunteers, organized by Cummings and Vice Commander Dana Richardson gave birth to the idea that there could be a support SAR that would be all volunteer and highly trained to assist law enforcement in search efforts in Clark County. All that lead to tonight’s meeting.

Attendees learned about what Cummings referred to as The Good the Bad and the Ugly of SAR. They were also informed of the multiple levels of volunteers the group aspires to attract. They already have highly trained staff members on their Admin panel consisting of Metro trained Richardson, communications specialist, accountant, PIO, a paramedic as the Medical Officer, and a FEMA trained and SAR qualified trainer as well.

This group will also have a technical rescue team lead by Richardson known as the A team. All members will obtain certifications in order to be as qualified and prepared to conduct searches in a variety of conditions.

Anyone who wants to be a part of this effort will be accepted. There will be work to do for persons of all levels and will utilize their skills accordingly. Go to the RED ROCK SEARCH AND RESCUE page for more information and to sign up to be a part of this great cause in Clark County.

SPOT Connect All Set Up!

This will track me

 I got my SPOT CONNECT set up and tested it. I am happy so far and cannot wait to see how it tracks me. My first test post was very close to where I had the SPOT. There is a web page that will start mapping all my check- ins once my trip begins on March 24, 2012.

This is a really neat device that will enable me to use my iPhone through bluetooth to send text messages to people while  am out of cell or data service. It will track me with GPS and let people know my location when I send in an OK signal. I can have up to fifty people that it will let me send group email to. Each email can be up to about 400 characters. I can text too so long as I know their cell phone number and carrier.

Over the next weeks I will be running tests in this and other equipment. With four weeks to go, there is no more time left to get much more equipment. This is one of my more valuable pieces as I can stay connected enough with my family and friends that they will not worry as much.

Personally, I think they should be more worried about driving around Vegas than going to Base Camp…but that’s just me!

The Less Attractive Side of Hiking

Well, with the tip looming on the horizon and gear getting packed I thought I would share with you all the part of this trip that I am NOT looking all that forward to. Long walks in boots will mean sore feet. That is to be expected. But blisters and toe nail issues are also quite likely to occur and it takes work to prevent them. Today I

Toenail drill with bits

ordered a little tool to help out when I have bruised a toe or two and caused the nail to begin turning black. Why, you may ask. Who cares if it is black. Well, the black is blood under the nail and usually means the nail is getting lifted up off its nail bed. So, this cool little hand drill will enable me to drill through the nail to alleviate that pressure and hopefully save the nail. Again, you ask why any of this would happen. For me, it is a lacing issue. My boots are comfy and large enough. But when coming down a steep descent, if they are not laced in such a way to keep my heel back in the boot, the toes will hammer up against the ends of the boot. Over and over again. AND if my nails are not trimmed nice and short, that will add to the trauma, causing the nail to lift with each slam into the front of the boot. Sounds fun, huh. So I have a lacing pattern to help with that and drill bits to fix it if the toes get away from me.

The next issue is my heels. On relatively flat hikes, this is no problem. I wear socks and liners and have not problems. But when I go up steep grade for a long time, the

Enough to get me through!

hot spot starts. So, I bough a huge supply of band-aids to prevent the problem. I use one of these firmly on each heel every day that I have the boots on! This is a tested system for me. But I have to plan for the worst, so in addition to this, I have tincture of benzoin, Glide and various tapes as suggested by ultra-runners and the great resource book Fixing Your Feet. Add to that gel pads, mole skin, and first aid cream and I think the feet are pretty well covered and ready to carry me up and down the trail!

The next thing that is no fun about a long, multi-day hike is the bathroom…or lack there of. It is so easy for boys. They turn around and go. Don’t even have to interrupt their conversation. But I do not want to find myself having to search for a spot and then drop my drawers, letting all the good hear completely out. So I got a little device called the Go Girl! (its competitor is the She-Wee.) Now I will be able to run


with the big dogs and not pee like a puppy! All the while keeping my generous back side covered and protected from the elements…and onlookers.

Don’t laugh. This is a very important tool in my arsenal. But you may ask, with all of this trouble, why bother even going why bother when I could simply check into a Super 8 and spend the three weeks photo-shopping myself into pictures of Nepal and Mount Everest. I guess I don’t have to answer that. Do do so would either mean to sound trite by quoting George Mallory by saying “because it is there” or to try to make some other profundity flow forth. Suffice it to say, I am going, and I am going to feel the pain of it all, but I will be smiling ear to ear when I return. Stand by.

Black Mountain Summit!

Today was slated for a hike with my brother to Black Mountain in Henderson Nevada. It is part of the McCullough Range. It sits right at the edge of the surge of housing that spread like a flood of red tile roofs through the 90’s and 00’s. It is the tallest mountain on that end of town in that range.

Black Mountain looms above the houses in Henderson, Nevada

According to, it is a 6 hour hike and gains 2k feet in elevation over 3 miles. Joe was adamant that the information was wrong and that we should not be near that long out there so off we went.

  I was excited but apprehensive as well. It is only 5 weeks until I leave to Everest and this hike was fairly representative of a day on the trek. At least as representative as you can get 13,000 feet lower than the trek will be. A typical day on the trek going up will be 3 miles and 6 hours for that small distance.

When I hike…or do anything challenging, I find myself in arguments with myself. If things are getting too hard I fight the voice in my head telling me I am not going to make it. To give up. To be happy with what I have already done. This hike was no exception. I had been hiking for some distance and drinking along the way. But suddenly I began getting cramps in my calf. I ate some Shot Bloks and went along. Once I hit the portion of the hike that really takes a steep climb, I started getting them in the other calf. I had to find some good rocks to press my foot up against to force stretching them out for about 15 minutes and then summit as fast as I could. Once on top, I drank another bottle of water and ate some more Shot Bloks for the trip down. I never had the attacks on the way down so I must have done something right.

Las Vegas Strip on a hazy day.

As you walk up this trail, you see Las Vegas on your left. Though this particular day, there was a big haze over the valley, you could see the Famous Las Vegas Strip pretty easily.

Because of our late start, the sun was going down just as I was down the first and most difficult section. I pulled my head lamp out of my pack and continued along the path. I had not hiked at night with a light before. The weather was nice. Just had my Eddie Bauer Hang Fire Hoodie and a t-shirt and was very comfortable.  Again the doubts about my abilities…too old, spent too many years doing nothing to truly get back to a good fitness level. But as I pushed those thoughts out, I gained a new appreciation for just being there and doing it. How there is no way I could have even 2 years ago. Moreover, that 6 years ago, I was unable to even carry my books from my car to the classroom in Law School. It isn’t over til its over and I just cannot let it be over yet.

Enhancement by David Cummings! Thanks David!

A while back I went on a hike to Turtle Head. I went most the way but really just did not like that hike and the slough under my feet made me believe I was risking injury to claim the top. I had gotten a good workout, so turned back. Ever since that hike, Turtle Head mocks me. It looks at me from every corner of the valley. While up at Black Mountain, It mocked me from across the valley. So I asked a friend of mine what I could do to enhance a picture of it that was obscured by the haze and he gave me this back……stunning. It mocks me and after I get back from Everest, I will go back and put it to rest!

I enjoy challenges. I often wonder if the challenge is what I enjoy over the activity. Especially when the activity becomes difficult. But in the end, I realize one is part of the other. I love the activity because it gets difficult and because I can have a sense of accomplishment at the end.

A look down at Vegas as the lights are coming on....lots of hiking left!

Here are some more sights of the day!



Look Out Night Hike

Not Long Now

Patagonia Fitz Roy Hoodie. I LOVE IT!

Wow! Time is really flying by and before I know it, I will be headed outta Dodge and realizing a dream. I heard from my Cousin, Leo yesterday. He lives in Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong, China. I will be arriving in Hong Kong the 28th of March so he will come over there the night before and tour me around Hong King during my 12 hour lay over! What a TREAT!

As the days round out before leaving to Everest Base Camp, I am finishing up getting the gear in. This near two year process has resulted in me making some additions and changes in what gear I want to bring. I have opted to take two pair of boots, but now, one pair will be all leather, Keen Erickson PCT’s to compliment my Keen Oregon PCT’s. I decided I like the Patagonia Fitz Roy 800 fill down hoodie for my summit coat. That takes out my Mountain Hardwear Down Sweater.

I still have to get all my electronics together and figure out how many batteries and what type I will need to bring. I have my Mac Book Pro, my SPOT, my solar batteries, my steri-pen, my iPhone, and my Canon 60D camera.  I have to complete my first aid list and get my shots. The Health District web page advised getting them right before leaving as they only last a few weeks.  I need to be sure I have enough stuff sacks and dry bags to get all mys stuff into my big Mountain Hardwear Trekking duffel, pack my pack and select one other small carry on to hold boots, camera, passport, tickets and cash. I also need to get passport pictures taken to bring for visa documents for Mountain Madness.

GPS Device Will Help Stay In Touch With Dad

I mentioned a device I got called a SPOT. I was able to purchase it used from a forum member at Trail Space. He only charged me $40.00 and it is going to be a very important part of my trek. Dad is quite worried about me. This little device will enable me to press a button, which will then ping a satellite. That will cause the satellite to send a text message to my sister and emails to various others as well as mark a map through Google Maps. So Dad will know  every day that I am A.O.K. and he can worry far less. I purchased a ton of insurance so that if ANYTHING happens, I am covered and don’t have to pay up front. I can get medical care, evacuation and anything else needed.

So I do feel very prepared though there is much to do in the next 5 weeks until I depart.  I will begin organizing this weekend. Though I will be out both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday to continue the search for Ron Kirk and Sunday to Black Mountain.

In Search of Ron Kirk

Darrel Kirk, Brother of missing hiker in from Seattle to search

Today my outing was not focused on the prep for the trek. It was far more important than my quest for personal accomplishment. Today I went out with Red Rock Search and Rescue to try to help find Ron Kirk. I don’t know him personally. But when you hike the Red Rocks and hear of someone who does not come out, you cannot help but want to do your part to help find him. Bring him to his family. So at 6 AM this morning, Jim Smyth picked me up and off we went to the command center outside Calico Hills to help.

One time, when I was 8, I helped look for two missing children at my grandfathers resort at Baker Lake, Washington. They sent us kids out on all our trails through the woods to see if we could find where they might have gone. Maybe they fell. Maybe they are just lost. Sadly, it was later the two youngsters were found in the lake. It was devastating to my grandfather to think that his rustic fishing resort had been the source of such pain for this family.  It was my first encounter with observing, and to a limited extent, being a part of the real time events surrounding such a loss.

It was a cold and breezy sunrise as Jim and I arrived. We were greeted by a motor home that had prepared a spread of food and hot beverages for all the volunteers. We were broken up into groups and I was in the day hiker group. There were Class 3 and Class 4 climbers that would be assigned more difficult terrain. So off we went to the flats between the road to Calico Hills and the model airplane strip. We were to scour the underbrush, look for any sign of Ron…in any condition.

The land I covered was flat with washes meandering circuitously through the extent of our section. We were led by an ol’ army guy named Pigeon. He had us fan out and just beat the brush. I was worried that I might miss something. What if I was looking to the left, and there was something on the right. What if I got distracted. I had not done this sort of grid thing ever before, though I had seen it a few times in rescue news reels.

It struck me how beautiful  Red Rock is. How quiet. How the sound of the voice of a bike rider out on the road carries in to where I was and sounded just as if that rider were talking directly to me. I also thought of Darrell Kirk, Ron’s brother. Darrell was in the position just next to me for most of the day. He had traveled here from Seattle. And though unspoken between us, the fear and pain and anxiety of not knowing where his brother is was palpable. My heart cried out for him and I so wanted that miracle to happen today.

These bikes were none the wiser as to the reason for our presence.

Red Rock Search and Rescue is new. It is all volunteer, and it was the result of Ron going missing. We need to have an organized group of volunteers who are ready, willing, and able to assist in these kinds of events. We owe it to each other to try to do what we can. We cannot leave it up to the limited resources of law enforcement. But we can assemble, train and dedicate ourselves to being there to assist law enforcement so that when something as tragic as this happens, families of missing people will know they can get help to find their loved one.  I was glad to be there and to give time to the Kirk family today. I will try to do this as often as I can until he is found.

If you have any idea what happened to Ron, please contact his Brother Darrell at the number listed in the second photograph in this post. If you can help look, find Red Rock Search and Rescue on Facebook.

Searchers in our grid.

Darrell Kirk was thanking a man who was leaving the search. He told the man how much his taking his time to be there and to help search made this whole ordeal more bearable. I cannot imagine being Darrell or any of the rest of his family right now.

The Red Rock Canyon


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