So, last night I decided to go down to Bellows Falls tonight and do some ambulance ride-alongs. About fifteen seconds after I had made up my mind my SAR pager went off. It was for a full team callout but I thought it was a mistake, usually the dog teams go out first. So I went over to the house to make sure my SAR gear was in one place. thinking that in an hour or two the full team would be called out. The team dispatcher phoned and caught me at the house with the news that the full callout was correct. I got my stuff together and drove off to Loon Mountain, on the Kangamagus Highway, arriving around 8:20 pm; too dark to enjoy the leaves. After about thirty minutes of typical search confusion (caused by half-baked interaction between NH Fish and Game, State cops, local cops, local firefighters, local EMTs, New England K9, and Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team) I found my staging area and was quickly sent out on a search team to search the wooded areas around a large resort condo area for a missing kid. We did not find the kid in the search area we had been assigned so returned to the staging area for the next assignment. The team XO was asking around to see who could spend the night (at Loon’s expense) to muster for an 0800 start. I had to decline as I’m usually on call at work from 1000 – 1400. The XO went back into the command post to consult with the Fish and Game search coordinators and give them a status on the morning’s expected counts. He came back out after a while and asked me and another member if we were willing to ‘go for a hike… One hour out and one hour back’. We readily agreed, of course. So, we started hiking to the top of a 3580 foot knob at midnight. It turned out to be more than two hours; we covered 4.6 miles and 2300 feet of elevation gain (and and equal amount of elevation loss, of course) in 6 1/2 hours, arriving back at the command post around 6:30. The hike itself was from hell; we had to move slowly in order to evaluate for signs that the missing kid might have left; foot prints, broken vegetation, scuffed dirt. We had to check ‘attractive’ side trails, and we had to yell for the kid and stop and listen for a response. On top of that, the trail was not maintained and had a large number of blowdowns. We lost the trail numerous times and had to cast around for it. Around 4:30, we summitted, verified the kid was not on the height of land, and started back down. Unfortunately, we did not find either the kid or any promising sign, so our labor only served to rule out an area to search today. I finally made it home this morning around 8:30, without enough time to nap before starting my regularly scheduled conference calls. Needless to say, I’m not riding-along tonight. Maybe Thursday. Oh, and since I left Loon before dawn, I still didn’t get to see the Kanc in color. Hopefully the kid will turn up today.
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