We’ve all seen them — the huge trucks with even larger trailers hauling various toys up into the Bighorns. Some residents loathe them. After all, those motorized vehicles do nothing but tear up the ground and make a lot of noise, right?
Others look at them and see dollar signs — a huge boost to the local economy as visitors haul those toys into our mountains, spend money at local lodges and buy local goods.
Inevitably, one or more recreationists will get stranded. This happens for any number of reasons — weather, mechanical failures, injuries. Many times, search and rescue crews are sent out to find those stranded recreationists.
It can happen to anyone — skiers, snowmobilers, hikers, campers, ATV riders — it is all too easy to fall prey to Mother Nature.
Each of those searches has a cost. Sometimes it is a life, but most times it is the cost of time, resources and money. Worth it? Sure. Expensive? Yes.
The Wyoming Search and Rescue Council, which meets each May, approved $124,444.69 in reimbursements to counties in Wyoming for search and rescue efforts this year. Sheridan County’s share of that was $2,419.43.
There are several ways to help lessen the time crews are out looking for you.
This past week, a Sheridan couple had a plan to summit Black Tooth Peak. They told friends and family their plan and they stuck to it. While it still took crews a few days to find them, the fact that they shared information with family may have saved their lives.
If nobody had known they were gone, or where they had trekked, it would have been much more difficult to find them.
But even that search had a cost — aircraft were deployed, fuel was used to reach trailheads, gear was used to hike into the wilderness. Nearly every time somebody gets lost or stranded, though, officials involved in searches mention a device that could cut down on search times and potentially help save somebody’s life. It is a personal locator beacon. They are also called SPOTs, which is the brand name of one company that makes them.
They are a small, pocket-sized device that allows you to let friends and family know you’re OK or sends emergency responders your GPS location.
They cost $150 — a small price compared to the value of your life, the lives of those searching for you, or the time, equipment and gear rescuers use when searching for missing recreationists.
If you can spend thousands of dollars on gear, toys and vehicles to haul it all, you can surely afford one of these.