Sunday, April 10, 2011


I'm on my hands and knees, staring at grass and the ground.

 "Oooh there!"

I'm tracking.  I think.  Well at least I'm trying.  Honestly, I don't freaking know.  I'm just making stuff up, probably. 

"Stick it!"

My teammates Grant and Ryan seem to agree with me (I'm guessing on all levels), we move our tracking rods further towards the pink flag.

Welcome to BASART tracking training. After today I my facebook will probably include a photo album of pictures of the soles of all of my shoes, just in case.  I will never again feel guilty for having so much junk in my car,  if I get lost, I want those trackers to have clues. AND  I may even consider jumping out of my car and landing with both feet on the ground, so the trackers get solid footprints.  In other words, my life will never be the same.

Tracking is awesome.  I wasn't skeptical of trackers before today, I was just uneducated.  It was amazing to me that my team could find a nickel sitting in the dirt but completely missed the knife sitting on the log.  Tracking has a critical place in Search and Rescue because it can reduce the search area dramatically, it can show direction of travel, and it can help save a life. Our instructors were really patient, enthusiastic and willing to help, which was nice since to learn tracking the first thing one needs to practice tracking  is PATIENCE.  My team worked hard, and as we found EACH FOOTSTEP our practice subject took, I looked down at my watch and noticed that we'd been at it for three hours.  With tracking, concentration is critical and time seems to fly by.  Crazy because I did not think it would be possible to stare at 50 ft worth of ground for three (plus) hours.

After having been through navigation, helicopter operations, dogs, medical protocol, and now tracking training, I'm definitely starting to think about outdoor adventures in a new way.  I haven't become paranoid, but I'm learning a lot about preparedness and good decision making.  I'm definitely looking forward to doing more tracking training.  I'm not sure if this is the area I will focus on for Search and Rescue, but I do think it is truly amazing how clues tell stories and I cross my heart and promise NOT to walk on the trail and destroy clues on a search mission.

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