I awoke way too early this morning, but started the day as planned at 0700 hours. Around 3pm today, I noticed my normal schedule was from 10-630pm and I eventually got off at 1900 hours (or 7pm). Anyway, the mission for the day was to locate the individuals belonging to the two vehicles that were parked at a backcountry parking area. The vehicles had been there for 3 days and we didn't have any record of them having a permit to backcountry camp. Price of backcountry permit---$0. Price of ticket for failing to get backcountry permit---$150.00. Ummm. So much easier to just get the permit. Oh yea, by the way that is $150.00 per person. There were other missions like finding coopers hawk nest (found one, but no birds), checking for illegal fire rings (found one), and other such things.
I arrived at the trailhead almost at 7am and started hiking. I finally found them at about 115pm...at their vehicles. But there is more to the story than that so I will get back to that. While out hiking I often get myself into situations that require first aid, near death incidents, pulled muscles of the arms and shoulders from catching myself by my fingertips from sliding down 100 feet, impalements, and other bodily harm. Most of the time this is accomplished on my days off and sometimes while hiking. Knock on wood I have never had to be rescued from my journeys. However, where I work we have two radio codes just for me. They are SS and SSS (or triple S). The first one is a Sara Situation--these are minor--locked keys in vehicle, flat tire, etc. The second one is Serious Sara Situation---these are major---will need to be carried out, hanging from cliff, etc. Like I said I haven't had to use one yet, but there is still time.
So today I take off hiking up the trail. Ah, the great smell of illegal cow dung, urine, and water mixed together permeates the air and the ground. You probably think I am joking, but really I kind of like the smell of it. (Yea, I like the smell of feed lots as well). We had some cattle break through a fence and cruise the park for a while. Heck, there might be some still in here. Anyway, I hiked about 3 miles up the wash and found no sign people.
I did find these things though--lots of poison ivy and poison oak, a wonderful spring, several cool rock formations, a fire ring in an archelogical site (a no-no), and a Igloo 30 cooler. Now I destroyed the fire ring, didn't roll around in the poison stuff, took some photos, and enjoyed the peacefulness. Yes, I carried that dang cooler for two hours. It was pretty torn up and it sucked carrying it. But now the wash is a little cleaner.
You are waiting for the SS aren't you. Well, here you go. I was crossing this drainage and should have thought twice since I created a minor rock fall just seconds eariler that I probably shouldn't cross here, but then where would the adventure be. So I am standing on the top of this rock with my right foot and I have my left foot on this tiny ledge on the rock. And you always here it give before your foot slides out from underneath you. I somehow managed to catch myself somewhat. If I hadn't, I would probably be telling you about the edge that was taken off when they put stitches in my head. But anyway, I am hanging/laying there and taking inventory of myself. Two feet still attached and moving, two legs, can still move my hips, body looks ok, and I know I have arms as they are holding me in position. I don't feel anything moist on me which would mean I was bleeding. I know each time my supervisor hears me call her, the hair on the back of her neck stands up and she cringes. I climbed up and out of the area quickly after that. And continued on...
Do you hear voices? Or am I the only one? I often hear them when I am alone out in the middle of nowhere. And I often here them when I am standing near an archelogical site. So I am standing there checking out a coopers hawk nest when I hear the voices. I sometimes hear the voice when a fly buzzes past me. I would also like to clarify that another friend of mine has heard the voices too. Back me on this Little S. Anyway, I heard the voices. And then I looked up to see two ravens playing/attacking/mating each other. I don't know what they were doing, but I would notice every once in a while a little dropping would fall. And all I kept thinking was don't fall on me. I am really into birds, but hate birds only because I have had a dropping land on me and also because a raven attacked me once. Anyway, the giant dinosaur lizard pulled my atttention away. Really the lizard is quite small, but when they move through the bushes they always make me jump. Here we have lizards on speed or otherwise known as desert whiptails. They are the ugliest things in the world. WOW! Something big just flew down there. I watched. I had seen gold, but thought it was a raven. And then he soared back out of the wash and there was a golden eagle. Ever seen one...they are huge. And then he flew away.
I gave up finding the people and started back the vehicle. Let me just tell you that I am not a big water drinker, which is surprising considering I am constantly telling people hiking to DRINK WATER (so I don't have to rescue your stupid self). But let me also tell you when you suck on the nozzle of the camelbak and it bubbles; that is the worst feeling in the world especially since I had another hour before I would reach my vehicle. And it is when the water supply runs out that I actually want some. I was already an hour from the springs so I was without water either way. And then I found the cooler which just added to my thirst sensation. At the last point of the trail, I am not sure what happen, but I felt a little pain in my right calf and then I felt something dripping down my leg. Now the cooler was pretty empty by now because the muddy water was all over my pants so there was only one thing that could be running down my leg. It wasn't a lot of blood, but there were two puncture marks. I just let it bleed. I was on a mission to get to the truck and to my house for a coke.
I was almost to the parking lot when I noticed the four people crossing the road and going to the vehicles that were suspect. I picked up the pace. I contacted them as they were starting the vehicle.
ME: Hey, you camping down there?
One of the four: Yea.
ME: Can I see your permit? (I knew they didn't have one)
One of the four: Ah, permit? What do you mean?
ME: Well, you can't just camp anywhere, you have to have a permit.
One of the four: How much?
ME: The permit is free, but the ticket you are going to receive is $150.00. Can I see all your licenses? (Now these were all about 21 year olds that you know didn't have $150.00 each.) I had them read out loud to me the information on our brochure that indiciated backcountry use permits. You know, primarily made them feel 10 inches tall.
I wrote down all their information. Asked some questions and sent them to get the permit with a ranger waiting to write them a ticket at the bottom of the hill. They had told me they were 1.5 miles down the wash. We require 1 mile from the road. They also informed me they didn't see or hear the coopers hawk which they would have had to pass the nest if they were 1.5 miles down the canyon. Either that or our coopers hawk left the area.
Around 430pm, I decided to go check on my new found friends. I walked down to the coopers hawk nest and didn't get the welcome they normally give. Well, really it is a get out of the area or I am going to dive bomb you. And I walked exactly 1.5 miles when I heard the voices of reason or insanity hooting it up. I invaded their space again. Informed them they walked through poison ivy to get to their camp and hoped they enjoy the rest of their stay. The four I had contacted at the vehicles had drawn the beer straws for that day and were required to go buy 3.2 beer in town.
So the question is did they get tickets? Let me know if you think they should have!