All posts by editor

Jeff Block, buddy Blue are leaving their mark

By EJ Montini

August 25, 2012

Earlier this month, I wrote about the death of a good man who was also a good son and a good brother. It’s the kind of story we often do in the news business. What we don’t often do is cover the aftermath, in which the victims of such a tragedy seek, and sometimes find, grace.

This is about the aftermath.

Sometime in the late afternoon of July 25, while driving south on U.S. 60 out of Show Low, 57-year-old Jeff Block lost control of his Dodge Ram truck, leaving the roadway and plunging several hundred feet down the embankment.

The truck’s wreckage with Jeff’s body inside finally was discovered two weeks later, a few hours after I’d spoken to Jeff’s anguished father, Sherwin.

“To have a child be missing without any clues, without any rhyme or reason, it’s just … just a terrible thing,” he told me. “It surely is.”

Jeff was traveling with his all-white, blue-eyed wolf-mix dog named Blue. The dog had not been found when I initially wrote about the accident. The next day, Sherwin called to tell me that a team from Superstition Search and Rescue had returned to the crash site and located Blue’s body.

The day Jeff disappeared, he telephoned his father to say he was driving outside of Show Low and would be unable to get back to Phoenix in time for their scheduled dinner. The two of them were planning to drive to Colorado early the next day on a fishing trip.

When Jeff didn’t show up, his brother Dan flew in from California. He and his father drove the steep, treacherous stretch of U.S. 60 between Show Low and Globe.

“My father, brother and I were on that road in late May,” Dan told me. “Our father took us up to Greer for a fly-fishing get-together. It’s something we do regularly. My dad and my brother were heading out the next morning to go fly-fishing for my brother’s birthday. We drove the road to see if we could spot any signs of a truck going off. We saw some wreckage but it wasn’t his. You’re thinking maybe he was hurt, surviving and needed our help. But it’s extremely difficult to spot things.”

Even from the air.

Dan organized private flyovers of the area before the Civil Air Patrol got involved in the search. But Jeff’s truck isn’t the first vehicle to have gone off U.S. 60, and a number of the old wrecks are still visible. One of the volunteers searching for Jeff suggested the old wrecks should be marked so that spotters in airplanes can more easily find a recent accident.

“Then someone suggested painting big X’s using the color blue,” Dan said, “because of Jeff’s dog and because it’s not a color you see in the desert. Another friend said we could call the effort Project Blue, something we figure Jeff would like.”

(You can read more about it or make a donation at

In an e-mail after Jeff’s dog was found, Sherwin wrote to me, “Jeff and Blue will be cremated together and their ashes strewn on the Frying Pan River in Colorado, where Jeff and his brother Dan loved to fly fish. We’ll do that next year on July 30th.”

Jeff’s birthday.

“This has been a terrible ordeal for our parents, my sister and me,” said Dan. “Jeff was a great guy. Our family is close. But people have been very kind to us. We’ve made friends out of this, and we wanted something good to come out of a terrible experience. We have that with Project Blue.”

In Norman Maclean’s great novel “A River Runs Through It,” a father and two sons are bound together by faith, family and fly fishing, sort of like the Block boys and their dad.

At one point, the narrator of the novel, one of the brothers, says: “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things — trout as well as eternal salvation — come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

Missing Ariz. man found dead in truck, police confirm

by Haley Madden – Aug. 10, 2012 05:41 PM
The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team

The body of Jeffrey Block, the Apache Junction man reported missing July 26, is the one found inside his truck, officials said.

Authorities found Jeffrey’s dog dead Thursday, said Commander Robert Cooper, a Superstition Search and Rescue spokesman.

Block’s family reported him missing July 26 after he failed to return home from a trip to Show Low with his dog, Blue.

The pickup truck and his body was found Wednesday in a Gila County canyon off U.S. 60.

Officials believe Block’s vehicle crashed, said Elias Johnson, a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Blue was found near the windshield of Block’s truck. The truck continued to roll about 600 to 800 feet below, Cooper said.

Block and his dog Blue were taken to a Globe mortuary. They will be cremated together and their ashes will be spread in Colorado on their grandfather’s property, Cooper said.

AJ man and his dog killed in truck crash — Found at bottom of Salt River Canyon by search team

By Christina Fuoco- Karasinski
The News

An Apache Junction man who vanished during a trip to Show Low was found dead Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the bottom of a Salt River Canyon after a car crash. His dog, Blue, was deceased with him.

According to Robert Cooper of Superstition Search and Rescue, it is unclear who found the bodies of Jeff Block and Blue, as well as his white Dodge Ram pickup near the bottom of a 1,000-foot canyon near mile post 295 in Gila County. Block and Blue had been there approximately two weeks.

Many people are coming forward to say they found Block because there was a reward, Cooper said.

Superstition Search and Rescue spent 11 days looking for Block and his dog. Cooper said it was difficult to see the crash scene because of the intense damage to the truck.

“All of us looked over that lookout point,” he said. “You can’t see the vehicle from anywhere on the road. We flew a helicopter over three passes in that canyon. The wreckage rested where other wreckage was. I can see why my helicopter didn’t recognize it. It blended in with dozens of other debris.”

Block’s family reported him missing after the 58-year-old, along with Blue, failed to return home from a trip to Show Low on July 25.

Cooper said soon after Block’s family reported him missing, the Superstition Search and Rescue Team received a “plea for help.”

“We got involved immediately,” Cooper said. “We personally passed out 3,000 fliers to people in Show Low, fliers to every business, pizza place. We made a big impact on that community.”

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Air Unit flew the length of the U.S. Highway 60 to Top of the World, east of Superior, as well as mountain access roads in Pinal County, searching for evidence of Block, a press release said. The results were negative. Cooper said that the PCSO didn’t do enough to help with the search.

“Pinal doesn’t care,” Cooper said. “Why didn’t they engage? It’s because they don’t care. If you don’t call back the family, you don’t care.”

Block’s family issued a statement on the website It said that as a tribute to Block, the family would like to collect donations on behalf of Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) and other charitable organizations involved in the search.

“Please help us applaud the efforts of SSAR, helping provide them with equipment and supplies for this and future S&R (search and rescue) efforts,” the family wrote.

“Everyone will be invited to attend when we present the funds to the SSAR group and other charities where my family and I can individually and personally thank each and every one of you for your help in searching for and finding our brother/son/uncle/friend.”

They are also collection funds to cover expenses of Block’s search and “final resting.” Cooper said that Block and Blue will be cremated together and their ashes spread in Colorado.

Finally, all other contributions will be pooled and donated to the organizations involved with the family in the last two weeks, and to the humane society in honor of Blue.

All donations may be made to Jeff Block Memorial Fund, the humane society or Superstition Search and Rescue, P.O. Box 3584, San Ramon, CA, 94583.

A Deadly Vision

Apache Junction News
By Tom Kollenborn

February 28, 2011

Gold and treasure have attracted men and women to the Superstition Mountain region for more than a century. Ironically, their quest for lost treasure or gold has often turned tragic. Searching for treasure in the summer months with little or no experience in the region can result in deadly consequences. The vision of riches has led many to their final resting place among the rocks and cacti of this unforgiving land known as the Superstition Wilderness Area.

In July, 2010, three men from Utah embarked upon a treasure-hunting quest that ended their lives tragically. Curtis Glenn Merworth, Malcolm Jerome Meeks and Adrean Charles headed for an unknown destination deep in the Superstition Wilderness Area. In the summer months the ground surface temperatures can heat up to 180°F. The darker the ground the hotter the temperatures can be. The air temperature was above 110°F and water was scarce within the vastness of this mountain wilderness. A blind vision of golden riches drew these men into this internal hell like a magnet. The men were aware of the dangers apparently because they carried umbrellas to protect themselves from the burning rays of the sun. However, they failed to carry enough water to survive the stifling heat. The victims’ parked their car at First Water Trailhead around Tuesday, July 6, 2010.

Soon after the men arrived they were reported missing. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) set up a search and rescue command post at First Water Trail Head on Sunday, July 11, 2010. The sheriff’s office had a helicopter transporting search crews to different points within the wilderness to conduct searches. The helicopter crew searched the area by air looking for any visible clues. Approximately a hundred people were searching the area on foot, horseback and by air. All of this searching did not produce a single clue as to what happened to these men or where they had gone. The MCSO Search & Rescue Command Post was taken down on Sunday July 18, 2010. Members of the MCSO, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), Superstition Search & Rescue, and other volunteers continued searching for the three missing men through December 2010. As of January 1, 2011, not one clue had been found associated with these three missing men. It was as if they had vanished from the face of the Earth.

Searching for hikers is one thing, but searching for treasure hunters is something entirely different. Hikers and horseman generally remain on wilderness system trails. However, treasure hunters (Dutch hunters) wander in all directions over the mountain’s vastness looking for clues to a lost gold cache. A clue might be a pictoglyph, a certain shaped rock, a cactus or maybe an old claim marker. These treasure hunters are usually far removed from system trails and often in extremely rugged country. I’m sure the MCSO and other search groups did everything possible to locate these missing men. These officers are dedicated men and women who are here to protect and serve us.

Once the officials scaled back their operations the volunteer groups began their search for the three missing men. I followed the activities of the Superstition Search & Rescue Teams during their searches. They are a very dedicated and highly trained group of young men and women who devote hours of volunteer time to help others. This team is a member of CERTS, a Community Emergency Response Team working with the Apache Junction Police Department and trained by the State of Arizona. We cannot fault anyone for not finding these men sooner because in the end they were far off any beaten path. They were in an area it was highly unlikely anyone would search.

Richard “Rick” Gwynn, author and prospector, was hiking in the Superstition Wilderness Area on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 trying to piece together clues about the lost gold of these mountains. Gwynn was about two miles east of First Water Trailhead when he made a gruesome discovery on the NNE slope of Yellow Peak. He found two skeletons fully dressed lying on loose steeply sloping black-basaltic rock talus about 150 feet wide and 1000 feet long. Nearby he found two umbrellas they had been using for shade. Near the bodies was a battery-powered lamp. Rick said it appeared the men had died of natural causes. They had no water. Summer temperature on the black basaltic rock probably reached an easy 180°F. No human or animal would have lasted very long lying or crawling across that black rock. Again the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office helicopter and search teams began a search for the third victim. You must bear in mind this is extremely rough terrain, and again the search had no success.

After the MCSO was done searching, the Superstition Search and Rescue Team (SSAR) returned to the field. They began a search on Thursday, January 13, 2011, searching northward toward Black Mesa near the southeastern part of the mesa. About 3/4 miles north of the first site that SSAR team found what appeared to be debris field that included a bone. They had no idea it was human, but thought it was fresh.

The team returned to the area on Saturday, January 15, 2011 and found skeletal remains. Search Commander Robert Cooper immediately notified MCSO and a helicopter rescue team was called out under the direction of Deputies David Bremson and Jesse Robinson. They supervised the removal of the third victim’s remains from the wilderness area.


This discovery and removal of the third and last body closed another sad chapter in the history of these mountains and the search for missing Utah prospectors. The failure of these men to understand the dangers of the mountains in the summer months cost them their lives.

Finally the three Utah gold hunters had been found – ending one of the most difficult searches in Superstition Wilderness Area history. Their vision of lost gold had been a fatal attraction.

Third body found in Superstitions

Apache Junction / Gold Canyon News
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski January 24, 2011

Superstition Search and Rescue has found the body of a third man in the Superstition Mountains Saturday, Jan. 15, believed to be Utah treasure hunter Curtis Merworth.

Robert Cooper, director of SSAR’s urban search and rescue, said the discovery of the two other bodies two weeks ago helped in the recovery process.

“He (Merworth) was on top of Black Mesa, tucked under a tree,” Cooper said. “He found a nice shade tree and found some dirt. When you lie down, your body shuts down. I imagine he was on his way out for help.”

Local author and 26-year treasure hunter Rick Gwynne found two skeletal remains Jan. 5 near Yellow Peak and Second Water Trail. They are believed to be Ardean Charles and Malcom Meeks.

“It took a treasure hunter to find treasure hunters,” Cooper said. “That gave us a point last known. Our last point of last known was the vehicle but the whole wildnerness was the search area. When Rick found the body, the search area became between the bodies and the car.”

“We are persistent,” Cooper said. “We just never quit.”

According to Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jeff Sprong, the remains are in the process of being identified. However, Gwynne is convinced that they are two of the Utah treasure hunters missing since July 6.

“I got to looking at them,” Gwynne said. “I said, ‘They must be those guys from Utah.’ There’s two of them. I got to looking around I saw the wallet of the one fellow. I went over and picked it up. It was belonged to Malcom Meeks.”

Gwynne said there were obvious signs of hypothermia.

He said he’s “pretty sure” he found Charles as well.

“(Charles’) lantern was lying right beside him on low light,” Gwynne said. “His glasses were in his pocket. They were on these rocks, I’m guessing at night time.”

Gwynne, who is due to soon have hip and knee replacement surgery, said he stayed the night in the mountains to make the hike down easier on him. Upon exiting the mountains, he called a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputy that he knew and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office representatives followed.

“We flew out and I showed them where the bodies were,” Gwynne said. “At that point, they took over and brought the bodies out, both of them.”

Gwynne said that he believes the story that the trio was treasure hunting. People he has spoken to, however, are surprised that the men were not found earlier.

“They were out in the open,” he said. “When I flew over in that chopper, even though I knew where they were, they were extremely hard to see. The skulls looked like white rocks.”

Sprong said he is waiting to hear back from the medical examiner’s office about the identification of the bodies as well as the causes of death.

“We’re looking into the fact that this is possibly going to be two of the men,” Sprong said. “Unfortunately, we can’t confirm it until we get information back from the medical examiner.”

Sgt. Jesse Spurgin, of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said, the department spoke to the detective working the case on Thursday, Jan. 20, and the medical examiner still has not made a definitive identification on the bodies.

“Once final ID has been made, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office will provide a news release,” Spurgin said.

Local search and rescue team believes remains in Superstitions may be missing Utah man
January 17, 2011

APACHE JUNCTION, AZ – A local search and rescue team believes skeletal remains found in the Superstition Mountains over the weekend may be those of a missing Utah man.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jeff Sprong said the office was contacted around 12:45 p.m. Saturday by a subject who reported finding possible human skeletal remains.

Sprong said the person told them it is one person and possibly the third hiker from the group that went missing last July.

The volunteer group Superstition Search and Rescue said they made the discovery.

Members of their team tell ABC15 since July they’ve been searching for the men two to four times a week.

Their biggest challenge was that they had little information.

Sixty-six-year-old Ardean Charles, 51-year-old Malcom Meeks and 49-year-old Kurtis Merworth apparently told family members they were coming to Arizona to find the Lost Dutchman’s gold, believed to be hidden in the mountains. Two of the three men were said to have medical conditions.

The men didn’t have cell phones, family members didn’t know what they were wearing and members of Superstition Search and Rescue say treasure hunters usually venture off trail.

Roger Barrientos, the group’s Wilderness Director, said the third man was found under a desert shrub, perhaps to shield himself from the sun. The week the men went missing it was above 100 degrees.

Barrientos moved to Queen Creek as a child in the 1950s to pick cotton by hand. He doesn’t want to brag, but says he was a good cotton picker. Now he owns his own alfalfa farm.

Barrientos also works hard on his free time, trekking through the rough desert terrain to find missing people with Superstition Search and Rescue.

“My second job doesn’t pay, what it does pay is in the success of helping families find their loved ones, in some cases find closure.”

His reward, he says, is helping people.

The team is trained by the state and include experts in different kinds of rescue to include swift water rescue.

In the case of the missing treasure hunters, Barrientos said they searched the area one grid at a time.

As they expanded their search, the mission was even more difficult because they would have to hike about four hours in just to get to the last point where they had stopped looking.

Sprong said the remains found Saturday will most likely be turned over to the medical examiner’s office for identification.

Authorities said identification of two sets of remains found last weekend may come as early as next week.

If you would like to donate to the nonprofit Superstition Search and Rescue or need their services, visit . Their emergency number is 480-784-8536.

2010 Review

In 2010, as in years past, Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) has continued to provide their life-saving services to the community while working in concert with local law enforcement. While 2010 has brought many changes, SSAR’s dedication to the safety and welfare of the individuals who live and recreate in the Superstition Wilderness Area and beyond has remained a constant.

2010 was a year of achievements and expansion of services for SSAR. While SSAR has helped law enforcement in urban situations in the past; this year they established a dedicated Urban Search and Rescue Team that has assisted the Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) on numerous occasions. The establishment of an emergency phone number (480-620-0299) to better serve the community has also proved to be a great success. In addition, SSAR has hosted a radio segment several times a month during which they discuss and provide outdoor sporting safety.

While SSAR continually trains its members in wilderness search and rescue techniques, this past year they additionally trained 16 members in urban search and rescue through the Department of Homeland Security CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program; eight members through the Apache Junction Fire District wilderness fire program and 10 members were trained in technical rescue. They also assisted the federal government in maintaining state parks by once again participating in the Annual Grand Canyon Clean-up. They are also presently assisting in the fund raising effort to keep the Lost Dutchman State Park open.

SSAR continues to grid search the Superstition Wilderness for four treasure hunters that went missing this past year. Conducting a grid search requires well-placed searchers that move slowly and methodically through designated grid sections in order to uncover clues as to the missing person’s movements. Grid searching an area helps to locate items that may have been passed over or missed during the course of broader search efforts such as torn clothing or items that may have been dropped by the missing individuals. Discoveries made during the course of a grid search can lead to a possible location or provide a point of direction for additional grid searches.

In addition to grid searching, SSAR is also GPS (Global Positioning System) mapping and taking photos of historical mines, campsites, dwellings, springs and caves (excluding current camps) to create a database of updated information in an effort to make the Superstition Wilderness safer for all future outdoor enthusiasts. Once this effort is complete, it will be available on the SSAR website along with up-to-date maps.

Going forward, SSAR’s goal for the New Year is to obtain a land donation that will enable them to erect on office/warehouse where they can store their gear and supplies so they are even better prepared to assist the community when needed.

SSAR thanks all the citizens of Pinal County for their ongoing support and friendship and extends their wishes for a happy, safe and blessed New Year to all.

Moonlight hike held for FBI

Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent
November 3, 2010

The Apache Junction Police Department hosted a moonlight hike in the Superstition Mountains Oct. 23. The hike was held for FBI employees out of the Phoenix field office. Apache Junction Police Chief Jerald Monahan said, “We are so very fortunate to have the Superstition Mountains right in our backyard, we wanted to show them off to some of our federal partners and let them see why it is so exciting to live, work and play in the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon area.” Superstition Search and Rescue commander Robert Cooper coordinated the event and led the hike along with other SSAR members. SSAR is a nonprofit rescue team dedicated to assisting individuals or groups who experience wilderness-related issues.

Missing Man Found Dead

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Apache Junction/Gold Canyon News

Cause of death undetermined, his sex offender notification was printed in paper

A man who went missing shortly after his sex offender notification was published in The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon News has been found dead.

David Henry Huck was found Friday, October 8, by Superstition Search and Rescue in the area of Tepee and Meridian Road in a semi-wooded brush area, said Capt. Tom Kelly of the Apache Junction Police Department. His notification was printed on October 4 and his family bought a missing person’s ad that ran in the paper on October 11.

The body was positively identified by the Pima County Medical Examiner. The cause of death is unknown at this time, Kelly said.

“There was not any immediate trauma,” Kelly said. “There were not any visible injuries like bullet holes or anything like that. They did a forensic scan and there was no immediate trauma to the body.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation for the family.”

Huck was arrested in 2008 after police in Colorado received a report that an adult male had exited his vehicle naked and was standing in front of an elementary school.

No students were present during the incident.

He left the scene before police arrived, according to reports, but witnesses provided a description and the vehicle’s license plate number. Huck was arrested a short time later at his home.

20th Annual Grand Canyon Clean Up

October 1-3, 2010

by Curt Fonger

This is a story about some truly remarkable men and women here in Arizona that really DO make a difference thru their volunteer efforts to aid nature by going up to the Grand Canyon once a year and becoming involved in a massive/well coordinated cleanup project.

Mountaineering groups from all over Arizona as well as our own Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) group spend a week-end of their time once a year to dedicate themselves to cleaning up trash left behind by the millions of visitors who descend into Grand Canyon National Park to spend time in one of earth’s Natural Wonders. The faces and names are many, with individual stories within a story often from person to person.

i.e: Superstition team member, 27-year old Jeremy Schmidt who is legally blind, yet does what other team members do, rappel and be involved. Occupations vary from auto mechanics, to carpenters, medical specialists, retired police officers, corporate executives, to technology gurus, school teachers, journalists, former military persons and so on. We come from all walks of life but with one common bond and that is – to Make a Difference by giving back in a positive way.

The Canyon is a place where imaginations are set free where adventures of mind and spirit take over. When you walk along the edge onto this enormous silent stage, the vastness, the complexity of nature rests at your feet and is all about you. Words nor pictures can adequately describe what one feels or sees when they visit this most wonderful place.

BUT… with all its wonder it cannot withstand the onslaught of us humans without help.

Now in its 20th year, the Grand Canyon Clean Up saw over 80 individuals from various groups – the largest being the Superstition Search & Rescue team filter into their confines for this fun event.

Robert England, President of the Arizona Mountaineering Club (AMC) who was the project coordinator, assigned SSAR Hermits Rest & Yaki Point as designated areas to be cleaned both above and below the rim to SSAR.

Free camping at the Mather Point Campground was provided by the National Park – so after tents were pitched/meals were had and campfires flickered into a warm embrace – Friday evening was spent with team members/families and friends. Good times and laughter permeated the air but soon it was lights out at 10 p.m. in preparation for a full day ahead of us on Saturday.

The cool night air soon befell our camp and at 7,000 feet above sea level – the scent of ponderosa pine and juniper filled our senses as we drifted off to sleep. We were bid good night by a pack of coyotes at camps fringe as their barks/yips and howls filled the starry night in this otherwise silent campground. Soon we all drifted off into a heavy sleep, stress of being inundated with negative events on our Planet had passed. Our thoughts were of here and of the now. It can’t be any other way in the Grand Canyon.

It was best said by author Mary Austin:

“The Earth is not wanton to give up
her best to every comer, but keeps a sweet,

separate intimacy for each”

That! Is what the Grand Canyon offers to all who enter that most magnificent place.

Saturday morning’s briefing for the day’s work ahead was held over a hot cup of delicious camp coffee in hand. Harnesses/ropes/pulleys/safety rigging/radio communications/and designated team members for the cleanup were reviewed and areas assigned. Off we went! The fun was about to begin.

Surprisingly, both Hermits Rest and Yaki Point had minimal trash but what there was – we collected/bagged and deposited in available dumpsters. The SSAR team was the subject of conversation to many of the tourists visiting this grandest of Natural Wonders here in Arizona.

We all took the time to stop and chat/explain our purpose and mission and without fail – we received Thank You from just about everybody we talked to. Aside from cleaning up, public relations is also a very important ingredient when in our national parks.

Have you ever been to an 80-person Chili Cook Off? Saturday evening found the AMC group busily cooking away on their camp stoves – Twelve different tasty varieties of Chili – complete with corn bread on the side. WOW! Talk about excellent food! A contest was held to determine who had served up the best fare. Although all twelve recipes were excellent, eventually only one could be declared the winner.

After another evening of campfire and camaraderie – laughter and stories -Sunday came early- but as it turned out, it was to be the biggest challenge we had ever undertaken in the years of the clean up.

Some irresponsible person or persons had thrown a 300-pound plus metal picnic table over the rim of the Canyon at Shoshone Point. This location is extremely beautiful as evidenced by numerous weddings held in this special spot throughout the year.

Apparently someone had become over exuberate some months earlier and managed (no doubt with a lot of help from friends) to pitch this heavy table over the rim down into the abyss below. Fortunately boulders/rocks and thick bushes prevented the table from going all the way down into the basement of the Grand Canyon. The table came to rest some 400 feet below the rim settled into dense undergrowth and large boulders. 400 feet may not sound like much – but when our task was to rescue this 300-pound table from tremendously rough terrain and at a vertical incline of more than 30 percent. Well, you get the picture! What a challenge!

Superstition Search & Rescue team members quickly surveyed the situation, Director Robert Cooper made assignments and we all eagerly jumped into action. Three of our long line rapellers went over the edge to secure the table with rope while others of us took up stations to man pulleys and as a TEAM – some handling radio communications, some of us spotting on the very edge of the Canyon, we slowly but surely inched the table back up toward the top.

Two hours after we had begun – VICTORY! with one final burst of energy – Seven line pullers got the table to the very lip of the edge where it could be secured even more so – then within seconds this massive table was hoisted back onto the top.

What a tremendous undertaking!

Various park personnel were on hand to witness this monumental event take place and even they had a hard time believing what they saw.

It can be said – We came – We saw – We conquered! What a blast… I may be mistaken – but I really did think I heard Elk trumpeting, Eagles and Condors screaming, Mule Deer, Fox, Mountain Sheep and even small forest creatures all thanking us in their own way for once again allowing the Canyon to be put back into its natural state through our laborious efforts.

Not only was this a fun week-end surrounded by quality people in one of Earths most beautiful settings – it was a week-end where we truly DID make a difference through volunteering our time to do so.

We are excited already about next year’s event which will be held in October as well. If you want to get away from it all, love to be with great people in a great setting and if YOU would like to make a difference, we would welcome your participation. The only prerequisite is a desire to have fun, to be involved and to be prepared to have an experience of a lifetime.

There are all kinds of easy tasks for volunteers, mainly being over and picking up litter that doesn’t belong in our beautiful Grand Canyon. While there is no charge to participate, you’ll leave much richer than when you arrived – I guarantee it!

For further information about becoming part of the Superstition Search & Rescue Team or inquiries about joining us at next year’s fun filled 21st Annual Grand Canyon Clean Up event, direct your questions to:

Photos by Curt Fonger