Saturday, March 5, 2016

It's been a long time

After nearly two years without going climbing, I finally got back on a rope. As climbing trips go this one would barely count in most peoples books. IN fact, the climbing was an after-thought for the day,. We had taken the family down to Ijams to hunt for spring salamanders, and after spending the afternoon doing that, I dragged everyone over to the new Ijams Crag to check out the clibing.

Ijams Crag was only recently developed and opened to the public, and is a small limestone wall with sport routes. I jumped on two of the easier routes on the far left hand side of the wall. Bruce Banner (5.8) was my first taste of rock climbing. I didn't know what it was graded at the time, but it didn't look that hard. At the 3rd bolt was a cruxy move, which is probably responsible for the rating, but other than that it was easy going. For not having been climbing for so long, I felt pretty comfortable leading up. My wife said I wasn't as fluid as I used to be. No surprise there.

I jumped on an adjacent route next, Down on the Corner (5.7). It started sprinkling a little, and the rock started to get slick, and the crux section here felt more awkward for me, but I got up quickly (it is only 4 closely spaced bolts to the top). Liz took a turn on the route next, it's been even longer since she climbed, and I thought she did wonderfully.

As afterthoughts go, this was pretty fun. I may have to try to get in a few more climbing trips before move.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fox Hole Cave

I had been wanting to visit this cave because of the geocache that exists at the entrance to it. Kind of a silly reason for picking a cave, that is, if you're not a geocacher. There are tons of caves in this area, some of which may be much cooler than this one, but this one has a geocache in it, so it was bumped to the top of the list. If you are not a geocacher, I wouldn't expect you to understand. But silly reasons aside, this cave turned out to be pretty darn cool.

First, let me disclaim that the cave is on the Closed Caves List, but is also on Private Property, which means that you can obtain permission from the landowner to access the cave. I'm not experienced enough to know whether caves on that list are on the list because of poor relations with landowners, or other reasons, but when my friend Natalie suggested I try to get permission, I was game. It took some internet sleuthing just to find out who to call, and I called a few wrong numbers at first. Eventually I connected with someone, only to make a mistake and ask for the person's daughter first (who is listed as the property owner) and then her deceased husband. You might think that after these faux-pas I wouldn't have gotten permission, but the lady I spoke to was kind enough to allow us to visit the cave. I was STOKED!

For the rest of the week I was planning the trip, not just to the cave, but also to a number of geocaches and natural formations in the area. Those other destinations seriously ate into our below-ground time, and it was nearly 2pm by the time we were gearing up for the cave. I wasn't all that bothered by this, but I was lucky that my caving companions were also geocachers. Any other caver might have been seriously miffed. The entrance to the cave is in a 30m deep sinkhole, locally known as the Confederate Sinkhole as it was used as a hide out during the Civil War. I had brought a climbing rope, harnesses and gear for rappelling/ascending, and was prepared to bring it with us. But jsut as we were getting ready to leave the car, a bunch of "kids" (ok they may have been in their lower 20s...) walked by and said they were heading to the cave too. They had no visible caving gear, such as helmets and knee pads, and no visible rope either. We figured if they could get down the sinkhole, so could we. Plus I was a little hesitant about leaving a nice climbing rope at the hole knowing that others could take it. Not that they would.... well, I guess I was just being unfair to them. If we hadn't seen anyone else around, i most surely would have hung and left a rope while were down below. Oh well.

We got to the sinkhole a bit behind the kids, and it turns out they did have 100' rope, cheap 8mm stuff that you might use as a tow-rope for water skiing. Heck, maybe not even that good. They were slowly making their way to the bottom, and offered to let us use their line.  Then, much to my shame, they offered to leave their rope in place even after they had left, since we would probably be in the cave longer than them. Boy did I feel low, having stereotyped them as rednecks, when they were just nice kids wanting to explore. So we descended to the pit using their rope. By the time we hit the bottom they were already disappeared down the main north passage. Rather than follow in their smoky wake (who smokes in a cave?), we quickly located a sandy crawl that took us to the southern passage. The way that this cave splits like this is not at all obvious. In fact, if we hadn't known to look for a southern passage right at the bottom of the sinkhole, we probably would have gone into the main north passage, since it is big and obvious. I think this fact actually helps protect the cave somewhat, since most "spelunkers" will be drawn into the northern passage, leaving the other passage to the "cavers". This was fairly well born out by us not seeing much trash at all in the southern passage, and what graffiti we did see seemed to be from carbide lamps. No spray painting or ugly rock scrapings.

The southern trunk was pretty sporting. A short ways in there was a 3m climb up a crumbly wall, aided by a fixed rope. Further in past that was another dicey traverse by some deep pits, once again aided by a fixed rope. The rope had been broken half-way, so it wasn't immediately clear to us how this portion was done, but we figured it out and even tied the two ends together to make a nice handline for the traverse. Mostly the passage was a good walking passage, and dry. There were numerous small leads off to either side which we stopped and took time to explore. I got pretty muddy going in one of them. We were looking for the lead which had been dug out by Hal Love in the 90's and opened up 3 miles of additional cave passage. We didn't know what we were looking for though, and were never sure if we had found it. The trunk passage we were in had survey marks labeling it as the F passage, and carbide markings dating back to the late 60's. It ended at a nice little pool (and some additional muddy crawls which we declined to investigate).

On our way out, we tested one lead with a nasty, tight and awkward z-bend. Natalie was first to get through, and got excited about possibly being on virgin cave. I followed (painfully) but there wasn't space enough for us both to be at the end of her lead. Mitch deemed the tight -bend to be beyond his comfort zone. Eventually, Natalie returned saying that the lead might go a bit further on with some more digging. Something for another day. I exited the z-bend in crazy style, contorting my body in painful ways, with my head smooshed to the ground, and my hips and legs sprawled up to the ceiling. Mitch got some video which I'm hoping to get access to.

When we got to the entrance sinkhole, the sun had already set, but it was still twilight. Rather than exit immediately, we walked a short ways into the North entrance-passage. Our earlier thoughts about cave condition were confirmed, there was a lot more trash and graffiti in this part of the cave, at least near the entrance where we were looking. What's worse, we found some fresh rock scratching graffitti from the kids who had entered just before us. They even dated their graffiti. Made me kind of pissed at them, because actions like theirs is what can cause bad landowner relations. And I stayed pissed at them even after we started climbing out the sinkhole and found that they had indeed left their rope for us to use. Ok, so they are generous about sharing their rope, but they are still idiots for marking their names in the cave. Sheesh. It was good and dark by the time we got out, but we had only been underground for about 5 hours. Not a long trip, but definitely a good one. A few days later Natalie sent me a pdf of the cave map, and there is a tone more to explore to this cave. We had utterly missed Hal Love's "recent" discoveries and their appear to be miles of awesome cave left to explore. It's always fun to have something like this to look forward to.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Some recent caving adventures

I've already written about some recent caving adventures on my other journals. But some links here seemed appropriate. Some of these may not be publicly view-able though.

Reviving this Blog

This blog was always intended to be a simple climbing journal I keep for myself. As my climbing activities have dwindled, and I've starting doing other adventurous activities, the psots here have become less and less. I am adventuring less than I once was, but that is fairly natural considering my life stage. I have a family now, and my leisure time is no longer so focused on the adventures I want to have, but shared with them. But I still have some adventures and would like to continue writing about them. So I'm expanding the scope of this blog slightly to include other adventures.

My geocaching adventures I write about on a different blog already. And my Family Blog (which is open by invite only) is still the best place to capture Family Adventures. Everything else I will try to capture here. For now, that mainly means Caving!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blue Spring Cave: Fear Chasm

Abby and Matt in BSC

A return trip to Blue Spring Cave. I had contacted Natalie about going caving since it was forecast to be cold. Nothing like being underground in a warm cave when it is icy cold above ground. I was game to visit any cave, but Natalie wanted to go back to Blue Spring Cave, so taht's where we went. We were joined by three other cavers: Abby Harmon, the Chair/Pres of the East Tennessee Grotto of which I am a member. Abby's boyfriend Matt Tomlinson, who is the Chair of the Smoky Mountain Grotto. And a caver and geologist named Sarah, who recently moved to Knoxville to do her Masters. A better group of cavers you couldn't ask for. Our destination for this trip was the Root Cellar, but we were also open to exploring other areas beyond that if we were feeling up for it.

Natalie led the way in, taking us through Johnson Hall and the Ships Prow. I tried to keep an eye out for the BO junction, but without Natalia pointing it out I never would have noticed it. It is very inconspicuous. We saw a handful of bats on the walls, but nothing like what we saw at the Drive In Cave. The main passage, which goes through Tamra's Hall and Buckner's Borehole is very large in most places, and has a lot of complicated climbing over break down. It was nothing like the easy walking passages of the M branch that we did on my last trip. Even so, we made pretty good time and were soon taking a break in the breakdown area where we would connect to the root cellar. This junction is not at all obvious, and involves squirming down through breakdown boulders. Before doing this, we checked out the main passageway continuation which would lead to Thunder Falls, one of our possible destinations. No one in the group had been that way before, so it was enticing to scout the passages a bit. But we didn't want to go that way until after exploring the root cellar.
Chert roots in the Root Cellar

The nature of the cave changes quite a bit once you reach the passages around the root cellar. Instead of giant borehole with breakdown, the passages are smaller, maybe 10' high at most and only as wide as a body length. Smaller, but still quite comfortable. There were also a lot of little side passages that branched off in both directions. We checked out a few of these which were crawls, and I succeeded in getting very muddy. The survey markers were FCK and if I ever get my hands on the BSC mapbook, I'll try to look up exactly where we were. The root cellar itself was pretty awesome, with the chert tubes leftover from ancient crustacean burrows. None of the pictures I took really capture them. It was definitely cool.
Fixed Rope traverse..Fear Chasm?

The passage at the end of the root cellar peters out to a low muddy belly crawl, that Matt declared passable. However, no one seemed keen on pressing it any further, so we turned back to check out the Parallel Worlds passages. Parallel worlds, as the name suggests, is a passageway that is initially parallel to the root cellar. There are even a few small window connections between the two, which makes for funny photo ops. one of these openings is just large enough to squeeze through, and Matt and I both tried our luck in it. I needed some help getting through, but made it through, earning some nice ribcage bruises for my effort.
Matt doing the window squeeze between Root Cellar and Parallel Worlds
Natalie climbs the 15' pit past Fear Chasm
We continued to explore passages beyond Parallel Worlds for a while, after dropping our packs. We passed a fixed rope traverse that we assumed was Fear Chasm.Abby and Sarah both decided not to tackle this traverse, as it was kind of exposed. While they stayed beyond Natalie, Matt and I forged ahead. We got split up a bit, when Matt stopped to check out a pit. I ended up sticking close to Natalie as we continued down narrow stoop/crawl passages that just kept going and going. We eventually encountered another pit. A 15' downclimb landed us int he bottom of the pit, where there was a fixed rope leading up the other side. We didn't have gear to climb the rope, but found going passage at the bottom of the pit and kept going for another hundred yards before finally deciding to turn around. Splitting up the group in the cave was making me nervous. On the way back I talked through my fears, and then Natalie reassured me that we'd be able to figure out where everyone was once we got back to where we dropped packs. Fortunately, we caught up to Matt, and then Sarah and Abby and were all together again.
Matt lights up some Alien writing on a cave wall in Parallel Worlds

We backtracked as far as the main passage where the junction to Thunder Falls was, then sat down for a break and some snacks. Abby put on some David Bowie music, which was a fitting tribute to the Rock Star who passed away just days earlier. We munched and sand, and then decided that it was late enough that we weren't goin to explore any further. We were still hours from the entrance and it was time to head out. The return trip was pretty uneventful. Abby attempted to lead us out, to test her knowledge of the cave route, and was mostly pretty successful. I wonder if I would have been as good at navigating through the big breakdown passages. Perhaps some day I'll find out.
Chert root in the Root Cellar

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Farewell to the Organs

I love the Organ Mountains. For climbing, hiking and geocaching. I combined all these activities into my geocaching series, Organ Saint. Some people, like myself are just drawn to these rugged mountains. So it is sad to say goodbye now that we are leaving New Mexico for the greener pastures of Tennessee. The only proper way to say goodbye would be one last hike and climb. I teamed up with Combatnurse2003, aka Mike, to see how many Rabbit Ears we could bag in a day. You would think a rabbit only has two ears, but not this one, there's the North Rabbit Ear, Middle Rabbit Ear, South Rabbit ear... then there's the Rabbit Ear Massif, and other lesser spires and ridges. No shortage of objectives here. And the hike up Rabbit Ears canyon is one of the best in the range.

We met at 5am at the jeep rd that starts up to the rock hut. I parked my city car, and piled my gear into Mike's sweet 4x4 jeep. We bumped and jostled our way up to the Rock hut, shaving a mile off our hike. It was still dark as we donned our packs, and we wore headlamps until we were well into the canyon. I enjoyed being the chattering guide, pointing out all the rock features and walls, places to camp and general climber's trivia. This was Mike's first trip up the canyon.  Perhaps my chattering frightened the wildlife off, because we saw none, but I was happy to be in my element. At the granite bathtub Mike dropped a gallon of partially frozen water out of his pack to stash for later. I can't believe he carried so much water up here! It probably has something to do with our last big adventure in the Organs on Baylor Peak when he got pretty dehydrated. I don't blame him for carrying so much water after that experience. I should have done the same, but turns out I did almost the opposite. I had meant to take a 24 oz gatorade with me but it had jostled out of my pack on the bumpy jeep ride. So I was short liquids for the day. Bummer, but I wasn't about to let it ruin my fun.

As we hiked higher up the canyon we debated some side objectives. The cache on the Citadel would make a great prize. I was the last find on it a few years ago. We decided that we would wait and see how felt on the way back down. It would be a significant amount of effort either way, what with a few pitches of climbing involved. Another temptation was ORP. Since we were planning on tagging the summit of the Massif anyways, we could almost justify taking the gully that one would take to go to ORP. It would only be a short side trip to that spire, then we could continue up the ridge to the massif. But we nixed this option too, thinkiong that our efforts were best spent on the main peaks. We were making good tme, reaching the saddle around 7:30am. We dropped our packs and made the quick and steep hike up to the Massif, and our first cache of the day, the venerable Labor of Hercules #10. While Mike worked that, I searched in vain for the summit register, only finding an old gatorade-powder lid. I was bummed not to find it, but there was a nice cache of water, 4 12-oz bottles. I grabbed one, knowing my own supply was less than optimal for the hot day we were going to have. Hopefully this doesn't piss someone off later, me steeling their water and all, but it was in a very obvious place where hikers go, so I figured it was fair game.

Our next move was down to our packs and then over to the South Rabbit Ear or SRE as I like to call it. There is a short section of nasty bush whacking here which I had mostly forgotten about. No Organ Mountain experience is complete without this, and I was pleased to get one last taste, although Mike was grumbling somewhat. We dropped packs again at the col between MRE and SRE, had a quick snack and then scrambled up the easy lichen covered north face of the peak. I consider SRE to be an easy peak, and sometimes forget that even it has some serious challenges. The rock gets steep, the plants disappear and you really have to pay attention to what you are doing. This is especially true on the descent. It helped to have Mike there with me, and see the mountain afresh through his eyes. The niceties of being a guide! We didn't dally long on the summit, just enough to grab the cache, and peruse the summit register. Looks like SRE has been getting regular visits. Very cool!

One nice thing about linking up SRE to MRE is that on the descent from SRE you can really scope out the regular route on MRE. I pointed out to Mike all the belay ledges, the crux moves etc.. and he had an absolutely clear idea of where to go. Then he handed me the rack... (just kidding, I was planning on leading the fun stuff anyways!). It's been a little while since I roped up for some real climbing. I was using my twin ropes and thin rack supplied by Mike. I knew the route, had climbed it multiple times but still got that nervous feeling in my gut... and sweaty palms. Well, that's why climbers use chalk right? Powdered courage! I stepped up to the rock and started to climb. Style, well, I've had better days. But man was it fun, and exhilarating. I think I've been missing this too much these past few years, chasing geocaches instead of technical climbs. Maybe I can remedy that in Tennessee? Who knows, but it felt real up there. Alive and one with the mountains in a way you can't get any where else. And as we climbed that sour thought kept popping into my head, "I am probably never going to see these mountains again".

We relaxed on top of MRE for a while. Mike was famished and tore into his lunch. My first priority was to look at the summit register. Marta had warned me that the jar had broken a while ago and she had replaced it, but it didn't occur to me that because it had been broken that pages would be damaged. A small animal had eaten away at the pages I left up here, making fractaled edges. And several pages were completely missing including the ones from my visits in 2011. I was a little bummed, seeing those entries is a cheap way to wax nostalgic about past achievements. The logs that caught my eye were from last weekend when Jon Tylka, Nate Fry and Glen Melin had attempted the full traverse of the Organ Needles. They ended bivying before the low horns, then fighting 70 mph winds.. all the way to NRE before finally calling it. Amazing! Another entry that caught my attention was one from March 28t where two climbers named Luke and Chance had written "Full Traverse". I wonder how many of the peaks they had actually nabbed, and if they had completed the full traverse? These thoughts distracted me for a bit, but eventually, the urge to check on the geocache I left up here grew too strong and I goaded Mike, who was comfortably relaxing, into making a search for it. He was doing what veteran cachers do, not relying on his GPSr and searching plausible locations. Except up on top of the MRE, every square foot is a plausible location. My impatience got the better of me and I pulled out my GPSr just to "check where GZ was". I was immensely pleased to see the numbers on the display drop down to zero ft as I stood directly over the cache. For only my second cache placement, I had marked coordinates very accurately!

The cache itself was pristine. I don't know why I would worry about it, but for some reason I had imagined that either climbers would mess with it. Or maybe I had thought that the effects of ice and snow from the mountain top winters would allow water to intrude. Completely unreasonable it turns out, the little water-proof matchstick holder was untouched, and dry as a bone. The paper was still crisp and neat. There wasn't even a chew mark on the outer portion. This give me good hope that the cache will survive for many years. And why wouldn't it? Only I probably will not know because another geocacher might not be up here for several years s well. Mike sat down at the cliff's edge and signed the log in the coveted FTF spot. Today is his 39th birthday, so this is my birthday present to him.  A worthy FTF prize if ever there was one.

Eventually we felt rested and ready for some more and started our way to the north side descent. This involves a very steep down-climb to a faded orange rappel sling I vaguely remember from 3 years ago. I checked all around it and decided it was good to use, but we probably should have added a piece for back-up. I hoped on the rope first, and was quickly down to the churchkey. A bit lower I found a pair of shiny bolts, anchors that Jon had told me he had placed. Having well placed solid rappel stations made the next two rappels much nicer. I could have linked them up into a single 60m length rappel but I was worried about rope getting stuck on the stunted trees covering the middle ledge, so we broke it into two rappels to have more control over the rope-pulls. The rappels off the churchkey are fantastic, with free hanging sections, and an immense neon green lichen roof system off to climber's-left. A great mountaineering experience. As we went I pointed out route features on the north face of MRE. Mike wasn't interested in tackling the North Face directly. The long day was starting to wear on him and he was only up for the easiest possible route which would be the Davis Route. We checked the time, 2pm, and did some thinking. If we were to tackle NRE as well, it would probably be 4hrs to get up and down, plus another 3 for the return trip. That put us back after dark. Definitely doable, and perhaps if we had been younger, or more gung-ho we wouldn't even have hesitated. But the thought of a 15hr day, getting home after the family had already gone to sleep, and missing any further birthday celebration (for Mike) made our decision for us. I know we could have completed the MRE this day, but we made the wise decision to call it a day.

The hike out was at a leisurely pace. Part of this was by necessity, the gully we had to descend was steep, loose and full of Organ Mtn vegetation. Mike took a couple of spills and bloodied himself from a close encounter with a cholla. No Organ mountain adventure is complete without someone getting intimate with the veg! At one section Mike lost his footing and came careening down on top of me, nearly bowling me over. He managed to shift his center of mass just enough to avoid a nasty collision, and halted himself without any injuries himself. This kind of stumbling is another typical feature of a long day in the Organs. Fatigue and dehydration add up and make the feet clumsier and clumsier as the day goes on. Another good reason to have called it a day instead of doing the MRE. But with plenty of afternoon daylight we could afford to take breaks, numerous relaxing breaks at several scenic spots in Rabbit Ears canyon. The ice water that Mike left by the bathtubs was divine. We chugged half of it, then decided to leave the rest as a water cache for future hikers and climbers. It is hidden away, but in a spot that is likely enough to be discovered by those who would need it. A bit further down we stopped at my favorite tree, a stunted broad-leafed tree with a canopy just my height, creating a perfect shady rest on one of the hottest parts of the approach around the Citadel. We chatted and laughed the whole way down, and I quietly said my goodbyes.

Goodbye ringtail cat, that looted our food when we camped here with a 7 month year old son.
Goodbye finger-singer, that slick 5.10 slabby test-piece that I so bravely led years ago.
Goodbye Lambda Wall, where I climbed with an Air Traffic Controller when we first moved to the area.
Goodbye Mexican buckeyes, with your startling rattles every time you are brushed.
Goodbye lonely spires, visited by the rare few who love to roam harsh terrain.
Goodbye rusted mining equipment, slowly decaying but still alluring.
Goodbye ocatillo blooms, flashing bright red buds against a see of browns.
Goodbye golden eagles, gently soaring from lofty perch to lofty perch.
Goodbye Organ mountains. My heart will forever ache for you.

 Goodbye Organ Mountains....

Friday, April 27, 2012

OMTRS: Gila by Night

It's been quite a while since I participated in a rescue mission. Partially this is because there haven't been as many call-outs in the past year, but also family has kept me closer to home. When a mission call-out for the Gila happened to coincide with a regular off-Friday at work, I jumped at the opportunity. The missions involved searching for some day-hikers who had not returned. We would be searching through the night for the first operational period, so I packed up lots of warm clothing and plenty of light/batteries.

5 OMTRS members responded, enough to field one team, plus provide some base support. Our field team consisted of 4 strong hikers, Gary, James Robert and myself. The other three had recently been in the Gila searching for Micah True only a few weeks earlier, so they all knew the area pretty well. This was a major plus considering we would be hiking in the night on wilderness trails. We were searching for a 50-something year old couple who were out for a long dayhike to some hot springs. Three other teams were already assigned the main trails that would lead to the hot springs, so we were assigned a side trail of the Middle Fork of the Gila River. Actually, we were assigned a "social trail". I had never heard this phrase before but it became instantly clear. A trail not marked on any maps, but it known through social circles. It turned out to be a pretty well maintained trail, even had a gate at the wilderness boundary.

Our main objective was to gain a large mesa simply titled, Gila North Mesa, and to run a loop of trails around the top. the idea being they could have got off on this spur trail to try to find higher ground to signal some help. Once we were on the proper social trail, it was easy going, but we were all pretty tired. We hit the top of the mesa around 1 am and stopped for a "night-lunch". James, ever prepared, brewed up a cup of Ramen noodles. I sucked some power-gel. Robert promptly fell asleep. All of us had worked full days already and the hike and late-hour was beginning to take its toll. Robert seemed especially tired, and kept dropping his flashlight on the trail, practically sleep walking. I gave him a caffeinated gel which seemed to help.

 Our loop trail around the top of the mesa turned out not to be so straight-forward. Basically three trails looped around the mesa forming a sort of triangle. The first leg was no problem but we couldn't find the trail that was supposed to be the second leg. After wasting a bunch of time looking for where the trail was supposed to be, we eventually decided just to go cross country following the location on our maps where the trail was supposed to be. This roughly corresponded to a fence-line. Once we picked up the third leg it was easy going again.

On the way down off the mesa it began to get light. To perform a thorough search, we took the spur trail all the way down to the Middle Fork (not the way we came). Again there was some confusion here because the maps showed the trail junction at the wrong place. We found out later from Gila Rangers that this trail had been moved 10-20 years ago but that most maps were not updated. Too bad Incident Command didn't know that. Below is our team at the trail junction of the spur trail and our "social trail".
 Once down on the Gila we verified that we were on the right trail (White Rocks trail), then followed the river a little ways. We passed by some campers and figured we should check to make sure they weren't who we were looking for. Unfortunately we couldn't radio Incident Command this deep in the canyon or we would have found out that one of the other teams had already stopped by and questioned these campers. So the campers got an early morning wake-up call. I think they said something like "you guys are still searching for them?".
 We had to cross the river a few times. One benefit of our assignment is that it was almost entirely in high-dry terrirtory. Some of the other teams had dozens of crossings. Since we only had a few to negotiate, we did our best to stay dry. Below Robert negotiates one of our sketchier crossings.
 We rolled back into camp tired after a 12+ mile loop hike through the night. No sign of the subjects. About 1/2hr after we got back, news came in that the subjects were located, and that there had been a misunderstanding, turns out no one was lost after all. To quote the incident Commander, "It is better to search for somone who is not lost, than to not search for someone who is."
Well, I for one enjoyed the night-long hike in an area I've never hiked before. It really made me want to come back and hike some of these trails again.