Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MISSING LLAMA! Rainy's Lost in the Mount Hood Wilderness (Part II)

THE SEARCH IS ON: I will be camping this Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon at Devils Half Acre on the old immigrant trail of Barlow Road, so that I can begin another search for Rainy. Here is a picture of Palmeteer Point From Devils Half Acre where I will be camping. I believe Rainy is somewhere within the vicinity of this picture. Palmeteer Point is the high point to the left in this picture. My thought is that it would be natural for her to gravitate down to this meadow, where there is plenty of grazing grass and water.

PICTURE OF PALMETEER POINT WHERE RAINY WAS LOST: This picture below includes Cher and Fancy Pants on top of Palmeteer Point about the time when Rainy took off in to the forest. It was a beautiful day, even though it was hot. One theory I have is that she was delirious from the heat and lost her awareness of reality. The climb up was arduous and I don't think any of us, man or beast, was prepared for the 90+ temperatures we experienced that day. Normally, Rainy would have stayed on the trail and followed the other llamas, even if she lost sight of them.

HOW TO FIND THE SEARCH CAMP: Devils Half Acre Camp Ground can be easily accessed at Barlow Pass just off of highway 35 (it is also where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses highway 35 and there are signs to designate the trail crossing). Once you make the turn in to the Barlow/PCT turn out you will take the Barlow Road down about a mile and a half to Devils Half Acre. It's a dirt road, but if you go slow most any vehicle can make it. I will be camped right off the Barlow Road. If you come, just look for the burgundy Chevy pickup with a white stock trailer right off the Barlow Road around the Devils Half Acre Camp/Meadow. If you want to help with the search, the best time to come would be any time between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. I'll have food and drinks for everyone who shows up to help. But, by all means, please call me before Friday afternoon to let me know, which would help my planning. My cell phone number is: 503-816-4415. But, if you want to just show up, that's OK, too.

Monday, July 26, 2010

MISSING LLAMA! Rainy's Lost in the Mount Hood Wilderness (Part I)

WHAT HAPPENED? This past Saturday Pam and I went llama packing in the Mount Hood wilderness, just off the Pacific Crest Trail near Barlow Pass, when we lost one of our llamas to the forest (see picture below of our lost llama, Rainy). We were ascending a view point called, Palmeteer Point, about 2.5 miles from Barlow Pass (See the Map Below), when Rainy lost sight of our pack train, veered off the trail and headed in to the forest. We didn't know that Rainy was lost until two young ladies, who were up on the point ahead of us, asked us when we got to the top of the point, "are there other llamas up here besides yours? Because we just saw a llama with a green pack and axe making her own trail straight down in to the forest." When I heard them describe the llama I knew it was Rainy and I dashed down the point to try and catch up to her, but she vanished in to the forest before I could find her.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN? An hour before she disappeared, about half way to Palmeteer Point, I had disconnected Rainy's leader from our other three llamas because she was starting to straggle and restrict the pace of the pack team. It has been my practice with Rainy to untether her when she gets like that on the trail and let her bring up the rear. It seems to help her get motivated when she is behind the others; having to catch up. Of course, we always made sure she stayed within eye shot of the other llamas ahead of her. However, on this occasion we were ascending a tiered incline just below the point and on one of the tiers she must have lost sight of us. Perhaps she thought we went in another direction? Perhaps she became delirious from the heat? Perhaps she simply refused to go up hill any longer? We went back to where we last saw her and I found her tracks where she veered off the trail and followed them as far as I could. The tracks led around the point, where the girls saw her, and then down in to the densely canopied forest. Palmeteer Point drops steeply down to the old Barlow Immigrant Road and is heavily forested all the way down. But, once I got in to the canopy just below the point I could not see her tracks any longer. The forest litter was so heavy that her hoof prints couldn't indent the turf enough to be seen. If it had been the rainy season I am sure she would have left far more hoof depressions on the ground and other ground signs. I spent about 45 minutes looking around, but since Pam and I were alone with three other llamas, we decided to go back to the trail head, hoping that she would double back to our starting point, like many stock animals do. When we got back we didn't see her. I then walked down the old Barlow Road for two miles until I reached the point on the road which is just below Palmeteer Point. Again, no signs along the road. When I got back to the Pacific Crest Trail head we packed up and left for the Ranger Station to make our report, but they were closed by that time. We then made a plan to return the next day to look for her.

I talked to one of my friends, Matthew Lee, who volunteered to come with me and Pam to search for her on Sunday morning. We made up a flyer with Rainy's picture on it, that said, "MISSING LLAMA" and other contact information. I provided enough information that someone could identify her and contact me if found. On our way up Sunday we stopped at the Ranger station at ZigZag to make our report and leave a flyer with them. Then we placed flyers at trail heads in the area, as well as on the Barlow Road.

THE NEXT STEP: I plan on returning Friday after work to spend the weekend hiking and camping looking for her, unless someone finds her between now and then.