- Jun 25, 2012
This graphic I had already made for the sheriff during the rescue. The region I labeled the navigation crux is where I encountered the place that would be the most difficult to navigate on the whole highline trail. When I say this I am referring to the west end, west of King's peak, because at that time in the rescue we knew the missing Australian had made it at least to King's peak, actually he had been seen around Cleveland pass. When I say it was the crux I don't mean for me, I mean for someone that a)wasn't from around here b)was possibly inexperienced in the alpine and c)was possibly inexperienced with GPS navigation likely not having downloaded GPS maps or the trail as a track. (The Leidy peak end, the east end, is a bit of a challenge navigation-wise as well but I find that stimulating and we knew he was well past that.)When we went through Lambert Meadows wasn't like that at all. Can you give me some coords of where it was really bad for you to make sure I'm thinking straight?
In this section, labled the navigation crux, the trail was basically obliterated by lack of maintenance and countless sheep trails and no real vegetation due to their overgrazing. In this region you don't want to be making your way straight down the drainage as you normally do and are inclined to do. Instead, the trail, if it was there and the "route" when it wasn't, was to stay high and to the north of the actual Oweep stream drainage intending to contour up high and through the Lambert Meadows. In actuality this was pretty easy to dead reckon in good weather because you could aim for the foot of that prominent north/south ridge just east of Lambert Meadows proper. But you would have to know the trail headed that way. Once I walked down out of the alpine tundra of the upper Oweep we had to start contouring through the krummholz trees and brush and then finally forest aiming for the toe of that ridge. Only occasionally did we find the Highline itself. It came and went, especially with boulder fields and yet more grazing. We had no GPS track to follow but instead had a waypoint every quarter mile that I had hand entered in the GPS using the trail on a topo map ahead of time.
Once I finished and came back in to help with the search at the impromptu heliport this is the area where I coached the SAR team to cover again and was ultimately successful in getting them to fly me back in to it in order to spend another couple of days searching, to no avail. Ultimately the gentleman's body was found further west and well off the Highline and west of Dead Horse Lake. I think there is even a thread here about the incident.