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.