Another day of searching for GPS Joe.
No clues at all but we did cover more ground.
We (SUN_HIKER and I) set off shortly after 7:30 am and were all set for a nice day, supposedly warming to 59 by the afternoon. NOT! While it wasn't a bad day for searching, it provided a variety of conditions to deal with. I didn't get too hot on the climb up the switchbacks because I learned my lesson on the hike with Liz on Monday and only started out with two layers on top and one thin layer of my hiking pants. But once we rounded the NE corner, the trail leveled out and the wind picked up, so we both stopped and added more layers. We continued on the Mazzie Divide Trail past the cairn for the Peeley Summit, all the way to the point where Joe headed toward Sheep Mountain. All along the way we picked out areas along the trail where if someone fell, they could fall far enough to go out of sight. Then we turned around to head back, dropping down near the fall areas to search below the trail. With radios to keep in touch, we separated, with me dropping 200-300' below the trail and Gabriele sticking between me and the trail around 100-150' above me. When we came to a deep ravine where we would be cliff'ed out we cut back up toward the trail, found one of the few areas with some sun peeking through the trees, and took a break. For me it was more of a shed layers to let them dry before adding one more layer now that the wind had really picked up. I checked my thermometer and it was hovering at 40, but the wind chill must have been well below freezing at times. A few times it felt like we'd freeze to death, followed by overheating on our climbs, only to freeze after removing a layer or the wind picking up. I took a video while below the trail on the north side as well as one at the summit, and when I played them back, the wind was so loud it sounded like a tornado, and that with the wind reduction function enabled.
After the break to dry out, grab some sustenance and lay out our plan for the next hour or so, we continued on. It wasn't far before we got past the ravine and could once again drop down below the trail. We continued to try and stay within 100-200' of each other. In one very rocky area Gabriele was forced back up to the trail and I dropped another few hundred feet to traverse below it. Although there was quite a bit of frost on the ground and a number of places with ice where there was trickling water, I was doing pretty good by following in the very fresh tracks of a group of elk. At one point I came across elk droppings that were still steaming, so they hadn't passed long before.
At the point where I had to drop the lowest to traverse the base of a cliff I came to a 4' wide swath of ice along the rocks. Not wanting to climb back up a few hundred feet and back down again, nor climb down 200' and up again, I tried to find the best route to cross it. There was a tree branch just above my reach over the icy area, so I jumped up and grabbed it. I pulled down hard two or three times to see if it would hold me and it didn't break, so I just held on, and swung across above the ice,
only for the branch to break and send me tumbling.
No, thankfully I didn't hit my head. Luckily I only dropped 4' onto a dead pine tree and didn't fall down the slope. Happily, I fell past the ice and was up so fast I didn't give it a second thought... until 5 minutes later when I started back up to the trail. I noticed a 2" x 2" tear in my hiking pants below the knee and upon opening the tear I found my leg was bleeding. Not wanting to take off my pack to do anything about it (stubborn, huh?)
I just kept climbing, and by time I got back to Gabriele it had built up enough to form a thick scab. Great! It's dry so no need to clean or cover it, just continue on.
I asked Gabriele if she had seen the Mazatzal Wilderness sign along the trail earlier. She asked me where and when I told her she wondered how she missed it. We headed back so I could show her what someone had handwritten on the back... something about "slogging uphill"
I think. Once she saw it and we were near the point of heading up to the Peeley Summit, we decided to check out the Waypoint Search area A west and below the Peeley Summit. We didn't go far before it cliff'ed out so we headed up to the summit instead. After Gabriele added her fleece layer back on (REALLY windy up here now)
we headed over to the northeast side to look down for possible routes. More than a few areas seemed quite passable so we set off down the mountainside, again 100-200' apart. Without realizing it at the time, we were actually covering much of Waypoint Search area E, which I found out when superimposing my track over the waypoint map. It appears I covered Waypoints E6, E8, E11 and E13
and I think Gabriele likely covered E3, E5, E7 and E9, and POSSIBLY E3 and E4.
We'll see once I have her track.
In the end we spent 6-1/2 hours searching so had plenty of time to head back out the road before sunset.
Again... no clues, but at least we enjoyed the day and the wonderful scenery... only 104 pics for me, the majority were of the search areas and the rest of unique, odd or otherwise interesting things, mostly dead trees. I posted 40 photos here on HAZ, the same plus 60 more on my own web site: http://www.changephoenix.com/10/2010-12-26GPSJoeSearch.html
That's all folks!
Oh wait, I want to thank Gabriele for the company as well as her hard work covering some treacherous ground today.