The radio crackled with traffic among several vehicles carrying us to the trailhead. A retired man couldn’t make it down from Delicate Arch in the 100-degree heat and needed an ambulance. To get him to the ambulance, our crew would do a litter carry-out. Just as we got underway, however, more radio traffic interrupted; a pick-up truck’s steering had given out and it had gone off the road, needing law enforcement assistance. Two miles further and he would have been on the dangerous switchbacks when this happened.
This was after the man was lost in the moonless dark last night, 2.5 miles from the trailhead farthest from the visitor center; it was midnight before a ranger found him (by blowing a whistle every 60 seconds), and 0130 before they got out. Meanwhile, a young French couple knocked on our house door at 10:15 pm, saying their car was at Delicate Arch but they lost the keys. And that was after the heart attack at The Windows.
The two fires we’ve had to put out recently included a lightning strike (three juniper trees burned) and a motorcycle on a remote 4WD road that caught on fire and started a nearby tree on fire. An experienced law enforcement ranger summed it up: “The crazy season is upon us.”
Holiday weekends can be some of our busiest, and this one is no exception.