Perfect day for the search...
- Great road conditions to the TH (that may change significantly with snow coming tonight/tomorrow)
- Weather was just right. The dark clouds quickly gave way to clear skies the rest of the day. A little cool & breezy to start but that just meant I hardly broke a sweat on on the climbs.
With all the very steep (albeit short) climbing I've done over the last few weeks the climbs here didn't faze me at all and I didn't even drink half the ~80 oz in my CamelBak. That meant not even a thought of breaking into the cache I placed a few days prior. So it'll still be in place when I return for upcoming attempts in warmer weather.
To begin with we tried for somewhere within a 50-100' separation between us but due to a glitch with our 2-way radios (I could hear her but she couldn't hear me) it wasn't long before we stuck closer together. I could tell this was not
an experience Gabriele was enjoying by all the pumpkin drama.
I'll admit it was tough going in many areas but somehow she seemed to find a way to get boxed in by brush on a regular basis, which just brought her frustration level a bit higher.
Still, she earned her dues hanging in there pretty well through thick-and-thin. However, everyone has their limit and after the 4 hours just to get to the area
I wanted to search, Gabriele wanted to be sure we made it out before dark and not being sure just how much time it would take to summit Sheep from the north, she felt it prudent to turn back.
Coming this close but no cigar, I just had to get more intel so I begged for 15 minutes to get out .1 mile partway up the last ridge overlooking my planned search area to take photos in preparation for my next attempt. I told her to beep me on the 2-way at 15 minutes and I'd head back from wherever I was for a total of 30 minutes.
I wanted to make the best use of my 15 minutes but unfortunately this was the ONLY part of the day that Manzanita decided to play its spoiler role. And that it did with a vengeance.
Yet to have anything more than one small scratch up to this point it all changed within moments. Fighting through the Manzanita Maze
brought back memories of my first search on the other side on the other side of Peeley and it soon became the same mode of travel... lean hard against it until it broke enough to squeeze through, repeat over and over again seeking some opening, any opening to take a breath.
I just barely made it to the ridge in time to snap a few photos before Gabriele called 'time'. On the return trip I messed up by getting off the trail I had blazed through the maze so it was taking longer than Gabriele expected and her pleas asking where I was had a note of concern so I went into attack mode and blew through as fast as I could so the out-and-back side-trip only took 26 minutes. Both my body and pants paid the price for that effort.
Thankfully other than a single suicide-style slice on my right wrist the damage was limited to my legs. The major holes in my pants are mirrored by the bruises, cuts and holes in my legs so I lathered on plenty of aloe lotion to speed the healing.
But where's the positive you ask??
Well, absolutely nothing hurts today.
Ok, I'll grant you if I bump or press on a bruise or wound it will squawk for a moment, but no lasting pain, no foot, ankle or knee pain so I'm happy with that. Although this pair of Teva's now have holes torn in the soles, they still did the job admirably, gripping like glue when required and surprisingly not a single scratch on either foot!
No luck finding any trace of GPS Joe but we HAVE added another search track to the database of GPS Joe search tracks.
I didn't see your post until after the hike or I just may have asked for the bullets but I did manage to stay out of Gabriele's line of fire. (After dropping the .38 a few times and it didn't go off I felt a little safer.)
But in truth I jabbered pretty much the whole trip so we didn't have to worry about any wild animals.
Summing it up:
While it is very rugged and demanding terrain I truly loved
being out there. Off-trail suits me just fine and the undisturbed beauty is something to behold.
I'll be back in AZ 4/25 so I'm tentatively planning 4/26 and/or 4/27 for my next search attempt.