Date: February 25, 2015
Participant: Tom Mahood
General Search Area: An unexplored area of Serin Drive cell tower coverage northeast of Quail Mountain and west of Johnnie Lang Canyon. Essentially up one canyon bottom and out via the bottom of a second, parallel canyon.
Rationale for Search:
Although the area is several miles beyond the Serin Drive cell tower 10.6 mile radius, the cell signal is strong in this vicinity and had never been gone through (to my knowledge). As virtually all of the terrain along the 10.6 mile line has been explored, it seemed prudent to have a look at this area.
Impressions of Area and Findings:
Pleasantly non-treacherous, although remote. I knew going in there would be no conceivable reason for Bill to have passed through these two canyons as they aren’t on the way to really anywhere. But the cell coverage was a plus and it seemed like a nice place to hike that wasn’t in GDSW (God-damned-Smith-Water….it’s become a single word to me).
There are many small side ravines descending from the upper canyon rims to the bottoms of the two canyons. It wasn’t really possible to clear these due to their numbers and inaccessibility. But there didn’t appear to be any conceivable reason one would want to use any of those ravines to descend. The terrain is much more agreeable on the tops of the canyon spines.
100% coverage along the bottoms of the two main canyons, but virtually no coverage of the upper canyon walls.
This was one of the “streetlight areas” I alluded to in my comments for JT73. It seemed highly unlikely Bill would be here, but the terrain, hiking and overall Feng Shui was much more pleasant in this area. Since it really isn’t on the way to anything specific I figured it was never visited and maybe I’d be able to snag a radiosonde. I was surprisingly wrong on that count.
The two canyons I was interested in are box canyons running approximately north-south. My plan was to travel southerly up the bottom of the westerly canyon, turn east and climb over the spine separating the two canyons, then descend along the bottom of the easterly canyon into Johnnie Lang Canyon. I planned my route accessing the first canyon to fill in some ground coverage gaps.
Dropping into the mouth of my first canyon I was somewhat surprised to see a set of fairly recent footprints heading up the canyon in my direction. It was also a disappointment as I like to think that my reward for poking into such out of the way places is that of priority. Well, not today.
However it’s been a while since I did any serious tracking exercises so it was fun to closely examine the tracks. They were no more than one or two weeks old, lugged, Vibram soles. The deep toe digs in the sand suggested a heavy pack.
Eventually I went up as far as I planned to in the canyon and had to say goodbye to my temporally displaced hiking companion. I could not figure where he was headed (I use “he” not to be sexist but because women are far too smart to do such a thing), since it was still some distance and climb to Quail Mountain. My guess he was headed for Quail Ridge, but this was a pretty crappy way to do it.
I turned easterly and began to start the climb over the spine dividing the two canyons. The spine itself hadn’t been explored and I was tempted to make that part of the route. But I thought the canyon bottom would be a more likely possibility and at least more interesting. At the highest point of my crossover I even came upon some patches of snow still remaining in north facing shadows. Such wide swings in the climate here.
I had a fun descent into my new canyon and started my exit out to the north. And what do I see? A set of footprints exiting the canyon in my same direction! WTF? Although I couldn’t be sure (I didn’t bother to sketch a stinkin’ lug pattern) this looked like my same friend. Well, hell…..another canyon that’s already been passed through. No radiosondes today. But I did come across a total of four Big Horn sheep skeletons, and that’s a large number.
I guess that whoever my friend was did some sort of similar cross over between the canyons. Examining his line of travel through the canyon bottom he clearly knew what he was doing, always choosing the best routes. When I reached the confluence of the two canyons I saw his original tracks went up the way I had, and looped back out the way I was headed into Johnnie Lang Canyon. So it was some sort of loop trip for him.
The only other item of note occurred just as the canyon I was travelling out in dumped into Johnnie Lang Canyon. I unexpectedly heard a ping from my backpack. My cell phone had gone off, announcing the arrival of a new email. I then realized I had forgot to put it on airplane mode, something I almost always do. It really surprised me as there shouldn’t have been any cell coverage this deep in Johnnie Lang. Perhaps I caught a bounce, but it was long enough to handshake and transfer an email. I must ponder this a bit…..
GPS Mileage for this trip: 7.3 miles.
Cumulative GPS mileage to date: 855.2 miles