CALIFORNIA- A dozen cadets and senior members from several California Wing Squadrons devoted a weekend recently to learn winter survival skills and to improve their DF capabilities.
“We found ourselves guests of an extraordinary cabin in Bear Valley. It was a beautiful place for us to practice some ES skills and to use our winter gear and apparel. The cabin had eight beds and a cozy stove that kept us all warm and dry,” said Major Dana Kirsch Ray, Squadron 10’s Commander and ES Instructor.
For the search class, the cadets and seniors split in to smaller groups. Each group practiced GPS navigation to catch a number of Geocaches.
“We had classes indoors and out. We snow shoed up and down the hill but didn’t get very far with the patient in an improvised litter carry. We also learned how hard it was to blaze a new trail when you find yourself on the wrong one. And have to cut cross country without the right gear,” according to Major Ray.
She commented that they were able to fulfill requirements and proudly engage in a truly memorable winter bivouac. Not everyone found the ELT but everyone found a couple of GeoCaches at least. Radio communications were spotty and cell reception was nil but the cadets managed to keep up a string of lively conversations all weekend long.
“We learned how to traverse the deep snow, “said Cadet Spears, “and had the experience of creating a litter to carry out injured people. On our down time we also had snowball fights.”
“DFing in the snow country definitely honed our skills to the next level, said Second Lieutenant Elsie Lam, Squadron 10’s safety officer. “I am happy to know that no one had any mishaps during the weekend. Everyone looked out for each other and worked nicely as a team,” she explained.
According to all involved, the food was wonderful, and the company was fabulous. And most importantly of all, there was no downpour. Plans are already in the works to this all over again next year!