Their standard joke is that if we go eat their pancakes, they’ll come to our rescue.
That equation offered by La Plata County Search & Rescue doesn’t seem like a fair equivalency to me. Shouldn’t we be serving them pancakes so they’ll come to our rescue?
Maybe that’s a discussion we, as a community, need to have.
Before I get to the flapjacks, I want to start with a few facts about Search & Rescue. It is 100 percent volunteer. The county doesn’t pay them, and they pay for their own training and equipment. Really.
I was talking to a National Park Service ranger at Black Canyon National Park about a dramatic rescue of a La Plata County resident – I wasn’t able to get the name, so that’s a story that got away – and he said, “We’re no La Plata County Search & Rescue, but we got it done.”
That has stuck with me. They don’t just have locals’ respect, they are respected in the state. They practice techniques on snow and heights as well as in water and caves. They train on horses, ATVs and snowmobiles. They learn emergency medical skills. They drill on avalanche rescues and ice climbing situations. They practice complex rescues, coordinating air and land personnel.
And then, because people never get lost or hurt on schedule, they get up from family dinners, walk away from work (with the help of supportive employers) or leave their children’s soccer games to help when it’s needed most. (Remember, they’re all doing this as volunteers.)
If something happens to me in the backcountry – and I hope it won’t be because I did something stupid – these are the folks I want coming to get me. They shouldn’t have to risk their lives because we took a careless risk with ours.
Which brings me to the Snowdown Search & Rescue Pancake Breakfast on Sunday. A long tradition – President Ron Corkish says they’ve been doing it for at least 25 years, his tenure with the organization. It’s a critical component of the organization’s annual budget, bringing in almost one-third of its budget.
The menu is simple and delicious: regular or raspberry pancakes, scrambled eggs and ham.
This year they fed almost exactly 800 people, Corkish said, making it a good year for them. Mike Bruce, who was working on ticket sales at the door, said he was delighted that many people would give them a $10 or $20 bill to buy a ticket and tell them to keep the change as a donation.
It takes about 45 people and numerous local businesses to pull off the event. (Next year, let’s see if we can get Honeyville to provide the syrups. Their Bumbleberry Honey Syrup would be divine on those raspberry pancakes!)
Carver’s Brewing Co. gets perhaps the biggest shout-out. Corkish said Bill and Jim Carver, along with chef Dave Cuntz, make the breakfast possible. CJ’s Diner, Desert Sun Coffee Roasters and Kassidy’s Kitchen also help make the food and beverages happen.
Kiwanis Club of Durango, the group that offers the granddaddy Pancake Day of the year, help with the griddles, and Snowdown advertising allows them to reach a bigger audience. La Plata County may not be able to pay volunteers for their services, but they do provide the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds to help with the venue. City Market contributes toward the last-minute supply run that is inevitable with an event of this size.
Oh, and did I mention the 110 merchants who donated items for the silent auction? I thought not.
Sunday was also a bittersweet day for the La Plata County Search & Rescue folks.
They were celebrating Corkish’s recent honor as Volunteer of the Year at the Durango Chamber of Commerce awards. Corkish used his acceptance speech as an opportunity to laud his fellow volunteers.
And they were grieving the death Friday of ice climbing guide and fellow search and rescue volunteer Mark Miller. Miller was an instructor for Rigging for Rescue out of Ouray, a technical rope rescue organization.
Missed the pancake breakfast and want to support La Plata County Search & Rescue’s efforts? Make a donation and send it to P.O. Box 1885, Durango, CO 81302; or via PayPal at www.laplatasar.org.
One can never end a story about La Plata County Search & Rescue without encouraging people to buy their Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue card.
It’s not pricey, $3 for one year and $12 for five. If you have a hunting/fishing license or boat/snowmobile/ATV registration, you’re already covered. Funds go to a state Search and Rescue Fund to reimburse teams for expenses, which can run thousands of dollars. If there’s money left over in the fund at the end of the year, it’s distributed to search- and-rescue organizations around the state for training and equipment.
The card doesn’t cover expenses for medical transport, such as if you’re having a heart attack in the backcountry, but it does cover expenses for the search portion of the rescue.
I know people who say they’re “just” going for a day hike on Animas Mountain or above Purgatory and think they don’t need the CORSAR card. But it only takes one misstep to break an ankle.
Cards are available locally at virtually every outdoors-equipment outfitter, state parks, the San Juan Mountains Association, and even, for Pete’s sake, Wal-Mart – the list is available online at https://dola.colorado.gov/sar/vendors.jsf. Or, if you’re going online anyway, go to https://dola.colorado.gov/sar/orderInstructions.jsf and buy it there.
Which led me to ask the question: Who is Pete, and why do we care about his sake? My ability to wander off on side tracks makes one wonder how I ever finish a column, doesn’t it? It’s apparently a milder oath used as a substitute for the stronger “Christ’s sake” or “for God’s sake,” which may refer to Saint Peter or is perhaps influenced by for pity’s sake, according to Wiktionary and the Grammarphobia Blog.
Oh, and that joke about “Come eat our pancakes and we’ll come to your rescue?”
Corkish said pancakes or not, they’ll come to our rescue, 365 days of the year.
Celebrating their Snowdown/Superbowl-hangover birthdays are Mary Kay Lambert, Robert Whitson, Eli Buck, Cindy Donelan, Ann Lowe, Jane Steel, Wyatt Manson, Lora Porter and Russ Leidy.
Great news on the Salvation Army front. Chairwoman Judy Duke said the 2014 kettle campaign brought in more than $100,000.
“In the last five years, Salvation Army has donated over $230,000 to the Community Emergency Assistance Coalition,” she said. “That is almost a quarter million dollars. Just think of all the people who have not been evicted, have safe tires on their car, etc.”
That’s a testament to the generosity of the community, those who give of their time to ring the bell, those who organize the campaign, those who spend every Friday morning reviewing requests at the coalition’s meeting and every one of you who put money in those red kettles, whether it was pocket change or the anonymous check for $5,000.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Oh no, I didn’t put any money in the kettle during the holiday,” it’s not too late. Send it to P.O. Box 3296, Durango, CO 81302.
Clark Lagow and Sandy Newman are kicking off the February romance season with their anniversary.
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