Sometimes your longest lens just isn’t enough.
We came upon this scene as we were driving south on Badwater Road in Death Valley NP. As we crested a small rise in the road we saw a large number of emergency vehicles ahead, with a noisy helicopter hovering nearby. There were, of course, quite a few tourist-type people (like us) who had also stopped to see what was going on. Since the road was essentially blocked we pulled over as well. A quick check with some of the other bystanders revealed that they were trying to rescue a hiker who’d gotten himself stuck – overnight – on top of a small mesa in an area near Golden Canyon. They also said that he didn’t have any food or water. Rather than climbing up to get him, they were using the helicopter to lift him off.
A few minutes later it was all over. I didn’t get my long lens on in time to capture the actual rescue, but I did get a few pictures as they were flying off. There’s actually two people on the end of the rope (or cable) extending from the helicopter – the rescuer and the hiker. And the helicopter didn’t wait around to pull them up. They were still hanging out there when we lost sight of them. Must have been quite a ride.
Actually, this kind of thing happens all too often in national parks. Sadly, it’s not always a “rescue”. Sometimes it’s a recovery. While I was watching this little event, I kept thinking of how embarrassing it would be to die of thirst up there – in full view of a main park road. You gotta be careful out there………..