By Charly SHELTON
Fred Koegler is no stranger to horseback riding. Eight months out of the year, Koegler, a retired teacher from Verdugo Hills High School, works as an L.A. County reserve deputy with Montrose Search and Rescue. But for the other four months, he is up in Yosemite National Park performing search and rescue operations on the back of a horse or mule. Koegler said he rides off into the backcountry with a horse and a mule and rides out several hours later with a rescued person.
“I was in the saddle 71 days last summer and I rode over 654 miles and did six carry-outs in the backcountry of injured workers,” Koegler said.
After finishing his 50th summer in the park this year, Koegler and the equestrian unit from Yosemite will be riding in the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade. With 30 horses and mules, the equestrian unit will be there to help kick off the National Park Service’s hundredth anniversary celebration.
“I’ll be riding a mule and I’ll be representing, with three other people, search and rescue throughout the whole United States for the Park service, since for my job during the summer I do a lot of search and rescue,” Koegler said. “I was honored to be picked.”
The National Park Service was founded Aug. 25, 1916 and currently oversees 59 parks throughout the country. The Tournament of Roses Parade, which is 127 years old this year, has chosen a theme to honor this centennial celebration of the National Park Service – “Find Your Adventure.”
“Find Your Adventure is a theme that has grown out of a unique partnership between the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the U.S. National Park Service,” said the Tournament of Roses theme statement, found online at its website. “Both the Tournament of Roses and the National Park Service aim to preserve history, connect people through real-life experiences and engage the public in new adventures. As proponents of the American spirit, we encourage you to find beauty in the landscape that builds the backdrop of your lives.”
Keogler and the equestrian unit of Yellowstone National Park will be riding in the Rose Parade tomorrow morning, position 18 in the lineup.