JT8, 12/12/2010

Date: 12/12/2010

Participants: Pete Carlson, Donny Goetz, Matt and Kim Jordan, Lew Kingman, Tom Mahood, and Patrick McCurdy

General search area:  

Unsearched portions of Upper Johnny Lang Canyon and two canyons between that area, easterly to the Lost Horse Ranger Station

Rationale for searching this area:

To clear the remaining canyons between Johnny Lang Canyon and Lost Horse, in the event  Bill had travelled into Lang Canyon, injured himself and attempted a self-rescue by heading directly to the Lost Horse Ranger Station.  Most visitors to Joshua Tree do not know of the existence of the Lost Horse station, and it is not usually manned.  But if Bill knew it was there, if could have been a conceivable destination.  Other than my visit in JT6, there had been no searching of this area.

Impressions of area and findings:

The southeast portions of the head of Lang Canyon were very bouldery and rough.  The canyons from the crest, easterly to Lost Horse were extremely rough, sometimes dangerously so.  It would seem unlikely that anyone impaired would get far.  That said, the terrain was very constricting and there were no alternative routes to those which we traveled.  These canyons are very rough.

Coverage level:

Very good.  I feel the canyons between Lang Canyon and Lost Horse have been adequately searched.

Comments:

With 7 attendees (all RMRU types except myself), this was the largest group in any of these searches. During the ascent of the east slopes of Lang Canyon, Lew spotted a fairly fresh radiosonde which we recovered.  Since he spotted it first, it was his, much to Patrick’s dismay, although Patrick eventually scored one of his own on a later trip.  It’s a geek toy.

There had been much dickering with JTNP management over access to GPS tracks from the original Ewasko search, including the denial of a written request from RMRU for copies (even though RMRU operates under direction of the Riverside County Sheriff).  We were finally permitted to view and take any pictures the map.  JTNP apparently considered this quite a concession on their part.  Prior to us leaving for this search, one of JTNP’s SAR people met us at Lost Horse Ranger Station with the map, which we were allowed to examine for a short while.  He was extremely helpful and generously answered a lot of background questions we had, clearing up a lot of things in our minds.  I think if it were up to him he would have just given us the map (and maybe anything else we needed), but he had his orders from above.  This brief sharing of the initial search map was essentially the entire extent of the cooperation we received from JTNP management throughout this search.

Ultimately, the images we took of the map had limited usefulness.  To take photos of their map, we were forced to lay the 3 foot square map on the ground and take pictures of it from above.  The map also had folds.  This introduced a bit of oblique distortion into the resulting images preventing a clean importation of the image as an overlay into Google Earth.  Despite many efforts on my part to unskew the image, it remained distorted.  So while we had a picture of the initial GPS tracks, it was very difficult to accurately transfer them into accurate GPS tracks that we could use for GPS planning.  But it was much better than what we had previously:  Nothing.

GPS mileage submitted for this trip:  10.8 miles

Cumulative GPS mileage submitted to date:  94.9 miles

JT8 GPS tracks (T. Mahood)

Matt, Lew and I figuring out our ascent paths up the east slopes of Lang Canyon (P. McCurdy)

Patrick and radiosonde parachute (T. Mahood)

Atop the east rim of Lang Canyon looking toward Lang Mine and Quail Mountain in the distance (T. Mahood)

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