Participants: Patrick McCurdy, Tom Mahood
General search area: Lower Covington Flat trailhead to southwest area between Smith Water Canyon and Quail Mountain.
Rationale for searching this area:
This was a continuation of our previous search into this area, filling in gaps in ground coverage. The working theory still remained that perhaps Bill was trying to get from Quail Mountain to Smith Water Canyon, perhaps in search of water. Our previous search, JT31, had covered a good hunk of the area, and this effort would continue that, this time entering from a different direction, Lower Covington Flat.
Impressions of area and findings:
Access to this area was somewhat easier than our previous trip. However I had mapped out a very convoluted GPS route that wrapped us around our earlier tracks and avoided those of the few previous searchers. This had us going up and down, across canyons, and was tiring.
Fair. A lot of the northerly travel we did was traversing across slopes with good visibility below.
Our initial search plan had us traveling far to the north, to a small zone of weak cell coverage right at the 10.6 mile mark, just over a thousand feet above the bottom of Smith Water Canyon. It seemed unlikely, but no one had ever been there and it needed to be checked. From there the idea was to return the way we had come, climbing back up and zig-zagging along a predetermined search path.
By the time we reached our turnaround point, it was later than we expected and we were tired. The idea of returning per our plan wasn’t appetizing. Smith Water Canyon was right below, although very far down and our topo maps indicated a lot of sheer cliff faces underneath us. I cautiously peered over the edge and found it wasn’t as bad as the maps indicated (usually it’s the other way around!). So we hopped off the edge and took the weeny way back, again skirting the shrubs from hell. We did clear the slope below us as we went down, for what that was worth.
GPS mileage submitted for this trip: 19.6 miles
Cumulative GPS mileage submitted to date: 485.3 miles
Here’s a somewhat poor iPhone 360 panorama I took when we first reached the crest after climbing up from the Calif Riding and Hiking trail. In defense of my photography, I was doing a 360 on a small, elevated rock, holding up the stupid iPhone and trying not to fall off. But the photo does suck donkey balls.
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