Castle Valley Comments: Nov. 21, 2019

The Castle Valley Fire Department was called twice last week to assist Grand County Search and Rescue. Last Thursday, Dec 14, GCSAR was paged out to retrieve a woman from a ridge between Ida Gulch and Professor Valley known as Sister Superior.

The climber had serious head and spinal injuries, which required the services of helicopters to get her off of the ledge. A landing zone was established on a gravel pit on State Road 128 just east of the turnoff to Castle Valley.

A Classic Air Medical helicopter takes off Nov. 14, carrying first responders away from a climbing area where two climbers were injured on consecutive days last week. Photo by Grand County Search and Rescue

When the first helicopter landed in the gravel pit to ferry Grand County EMS and SAR personnel to the victim, the aircraft raised a tremendous and potentially dangerous amount of dust and gravel into the air. Incident Commander Frank Mendonca requested that the fire department respond to dampen the area with water to alleviate the flying debris caused by the helicopter.

The following day GCSAR was paged out again to the exact same area for a 20-year-old woman that fell and sustained injuries. The same landing zone was used again to land the helicopter and Castle Valley Fire Department responded again with an engine to wet the area down for a clean landing.

The Grand County Search and Rescue website describes the incident: “Both climbers fell while attempting the routes in the Sister Superior Group bordering Ida Gulch and Professor Valley. They were each evacuated via helicopter. While the second subject was able to walk to a waiting Classic Air Medical helicopter, the first climber had to be lowered in a litter via a rope system to a location far enough from the rock face where she could be picked up by a hoist helicopter from Intermountain Life Flight.

Classic Air Medical responded to both incidents, providing initial medical care and transporting rescuers, equipment and members of Grand County EMS to and from the accident site from a staging area on Highway 128. Both subjects were on a narrow ridge at the base of the vertical Wingate sandstone wall on the south side of Sister Superior, at the top of a hazardous 1,500-foot talus slope leading down to Ida Gulch on one side and Professor Valley on the other.”

In addition to the Castle Valley Fire Department, Grand County Sheriff’s deputies, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service were involved in the rescue efforts.


I was reminded recently about an incident that occurred 60 years ago at this time of the year. On a Facebook page, “I grew up in Escondido, CA” Jim O’Neill posted a copy of a grocery ad and a short news article about the ad. The grocery store was running a special on hams for the 1959 holidays and requested ham-scented ink for the full-page, two-color ad. The Daily Times-Advocate ordered the special ink and ran the ad in the Thursday edition of the paper but they weren’t prepared for the unintended consequences.

Is this ham-scented paper? Or paper-scented ham? Photo by congerdesign/Pixabay

The ham scent in each individual paper was probably effective but in the pressroom where the Goss rotary press was churning out 20 or so thousand copies per hour, the stench became overwhelming.

The pressmen were getting sick and taking turns leaving the pressroom to get some fresh air outside. I was working on the press as the “fly boy” after school that day. My job was to take the papers as they stacked up at the end of the conveyor belt and count them out for each individual paper route. There was nobody to take my place so I had to stick it out for the entire press run despite the headache and nausea.

Another unintended consequence according to the circulation manager was that there was an unusual amount of people complaining that they didn’t get their paper that evening. Apparently the neighborhood dogs were taking the papers after the paperboy delivered them to the front porch. Their nose was telling them that there was a tasty treat inside the paper.

According to the ad, Morrell’s Famous Chef ham was .79 per pound and New Armour Star ham was .69 a pound and you got Orange Stamps, too. I think I urged my parents to opt for turkey that year.


Thirty-five years ago this week I wrote about old nostalgic windmills that were making a comeback in Castle Valley. Three residents were using the windmill to draw water from the ground into a pond or tank then the gravity pressure fed the drip irrigation fixtures for the plants. At that time, three residents were considering more windmills. These folks were off the electrical grid and using the windmills for water and solar and propane for lights and appliances. I think two of those windmills remain in the valley today.