During the day on the trail, we started hearing about a camper that had wandered off and gotten lost. He was a developmentally disabled guy with a group outing from San Jose. He had just wandered away from camp. That night after dinner, a ranger came to our camp and asked if we could help search for him around Tuolumne Meadows. Once again, our trail work plans were postponed.
After breakfast the next morning, everybody loaded up into the van. Erin was even going with us on this one! Moose rode shotgun. On the way out of camp, somebody started complaining about something again. I don’t remember who. I don’t remember what. I do remember that it was really getting tiresome. Erin thought so, too, because he started chewing us out as we got close to the campground used as the Incident Command for this search. As we pulled onto the long, straight road into the campground, Erin finished his rant by barking “We’re not here to blow sunshine up your ass!”
The van fell into a sulking silence. Erin pulled up to the ranger at the check point to the Incident Command, rolled down his window, and said cheerfully “Hi! We’re here to blow sunshine up your ass!”
No more sulking. Everybody in the van, even Moose, broke out laughing. The ranger looked confused. Erin continued, “No, seriously. We’re a trail crew that was requested for grid searches.” The ranger waved us through to the staging area.
We were allowed out of the van, but had to stay together near the van, while Erin and Moose went to find our assignment. As we watched the sun rising over the trees near a big field, a helicopter came in from the west and landed in the field in front of us. It was a familiar looking JetRanger with Rodgers Aviation colors. It landed, and who should get out but Hal, the loadmaster we had worked with over at Crane Flat on the fires! He saw us and waved. We all waved back.
Erin and Moose came back with our assignment. We were to hike to a specific location in the Meadows, meet a dog handler, and grid search a specific area. We got our gear together and headed out.
Later we found out that a tracker had been supposed to go out with us. The IC (Incident Commander) didn’t know where he was when we were ready to head out, so he sent us without the tracker. A little while later, the tracker showed up and asked where the crew was he was supposed to go with. The IC said “They left already.”
“Which way did they go? I’ll catch up to them.”
“Nah. They have a fifteen minute lead on you. You’ll never catch them. When it comes to hiking, these trial crews are animals.”