Participants: Paul Caraher, Pete Carlson, Tom Mahood
General search area: Park Blvd. to northerly slopes of Quail Mountain
Rationale for searching this area:
Exploring areas that were never searched during the initial search, as well as areas of Serin Drive cell phone coverage on the north slopes of Quail Mountain.
Impressions of area and findings:
Very rough terrain and slopes, some areas quite hazardous (someone could get hurt!). A great deal of brush and difficult canyon bottoms. Snakes. Did I mention snakes?
Fair. The north slopes of Quail Mountain have extensive brush which limits the viewscape. However by this time Bill’s pack contents and personal effects would have been scattered over a significant area due to animal action. This would increase the chances of discovery by not having to come precisely upon the site, but only near it.
JT23 was a bad trip for me. An omen occurred during a traverse of a steep slope climbing up Quail Mountain. I looked down and saw a nice, pinkish rattlesnake just two feet from me. That was only the second one I had seen in all the many years I had been coming to JTNP. Fortunately it was still cool and the snake wasn’t in a bad mood. I was able to back slowly away without incident.
About 15 minutes later I reached the high point of our planned route, a few hundred feet below the top of Quail Mountain, and joined Pete already under the shade of a pine tree. Paul was still ascending the traverse. It was time to start heading down and continue on our planned GPS track to the north.
Pete had just started off and I was still standing there on a slightly sloping rock slab, messing with my GPS. For no good reason, my right foot slid out on a thin layer of soil on the rock slab, and I went down. My right leg went straight out as I landed on my reasonably padded ass. Unfortunately my left leg folded at the knee and I went down on top of it. Somehow I still manged to wrack my ass! Just as I hit bottom, I felt a sharp tearing in the front of my left thigh like I had over-compressed my leg. This was not good.
Within 60 seconds of hitting the ground I had hollered out to Pete, “Uh Pete, could you just hang around here a while longer…” and slammed down three 200 milligram tablets of ibuprofen. I didn’t know how bad this was going to be, but I was expecting the worse. I found as long as I didn’t try and move, as in “stand up”, it wasn’t too painful. This of course didn’t elicit any sympathy from Pete as he watched me just sitting on my ass. I guessed I should have screamed some. Shortly, Paul arrived and I gave standing a try. It was pretty painful. In addition to whatever got torn in my thigh, my left knee joint was tweaked.
Looking off in the distance, I could see where we parked the vehicle about 4 miles away and several thousand feet lower. It didn’t look that far, but I knew all too well just how rough the terrain was to get down off this damned mountain. There was always the option of using my Personal Locator Beacon, but hell, I had two SAR guys with me. If we couldn’t get out of this, then we shouldn’t be here at all (although it could be argued it was a little late to find that out).
As the ibuprofen kicked in, I found I could use my left leg if I kept it stiff and straight. Bending it, as in stepping down from a rock, was not a happy thing. And it looked like there could be a few thousand feet of stepping down below us.
I had one trekking pole with me, but found it wasn’t quite enough. I needed a second one to act as crutches. Pete gladly loaned me his, since he didn’t need it. I don’t think Pete even needs shoes. Pete and Paul went down ahead of me and scouted a route with minimal downstepping. They did a great job and managed to find paths down that were mostly dirt slopes, allowing me to move pretty well with my leg locked. We made good progress getting down into the canyon below Quail’s north face without too much incident. The canyon we dropped down in was the one Paul got stuck with during the initial Ewasko search, and we knew it was badly overgrown and difficult ahead. But we weren’t far from the route we had taken in, and that was open and decent terrain. So with a little GPS magic, we were soon back on our entry route and headed for the flats to the northeast.
By the time we reached the flats, I was feeling pretty good, a combination of drugs and the relief from getting out of a difficult location. I was feeling so good we made a slight detour so Paul could see Samuelsons Rock, a place he hadn’t visited. Getting back to the vehicle and using a clutch wasn’t wonderful, but with enough drugs you can do anything. The next day at homes, the stairs were a special kind of hell, but I was feeling adequate enough to think it wasn’t worth going in and seeing the Doc. He would just give me the “What stupid thing have you done this time” look. Eventually an ugly yellow bruise surfaced on my left thigh, but by that time the healing was well underway.
Unfortunately, we only covered about half of the ground we had initially planned. The image below shows our originally planned exit route in green. This area would have to wait for a later trip after I had recovered.
GPS mileage submitted for this trip: 27.3 miles
Cumulative GPS mileage submitted to date: 349.8 miles
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