Participants: Tom Mahood
General search area: Easterly off-trail portions of the Stubbe Spring loop.
Rationale for searching this area:
Given a probable start time for Bill of after 10:30 AM, a hike all the way to Quail Mountain seems overly ambitious. This may not be apparent until well on the hike. However about the time it does so, the turn off to the Stubbe Spring loop appears, offering a reasonable, shorter alternative. Although the loop trail has been searched well, the area off-trail and inside the loop has had little coverage. There were also reports of “foul smells” which were later attributed to Big Horn sheep carcasses. This area does run counter to the recorded cell ping as the Serin Drive tower can’t be hit from this area.
Impressions of area and findings:
A mix of very rocky and bushy terrain and a plausible alternative for someone hiking in the area.
Coverage level: Very good for the area traversed. Maybe 75% probability of detection.
This trip was originally intended as a more involved search of the internal area of the Stubbe Spring loop, with a couple of RMRU friends. Unfortunately the night before they got called out on a mission (which was successful) and had to cancel. Since I was geared up, I went anyway to have a look at some of the areas we hadn’t planned on covering on our original plan.
I noted that it took me a little over an hour to get from the Juniper Flat trailhead to the turn off for the Stubbe Springs loop. Shortly before reaching the turn off, Quail Mountain first comes into view, and it appears quite some distance off. Knowing Bill’s start time had to be later than 10:30 AM, he would have been reaching this spot around Noon. Given that it was quite hot, this particular route in from the Juniper Flats trailhead is sandy (hiking is a pain) and Bill wanted to be out of the park by 5 PM, a decision to divert to the Stubbe Spring loop makes a lot of sense.
What is less clear is if he did in fact make this diversion, how or why he would leave the trail and how the recorded cell phone ping could occur.
Below, in addition to the usual GPS tracks I’ve been showing in these reports, I’ve included a screen grab from Google Earth showing the search tracks from the initial search for Bill as well as the tracks from this specific search. I think it puts the selected route more in context.
Also, while on one of the local high points, I took a panorama image of the entire Quail Mountain – Juniper Flats area, with labels for some spots. The image was taken slightly telephoto, so it’s further than it appears. But it gives a good overview of the approach to Quail Mountain.
GPS mileage submitted for this trip: 9.2 miles
Cumulative GPS mileage submitted to date: 514.7 miles
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