Sunday, February 11, 2018

Searching for Carol Fergusion near the Putvin Trail

Parking next to the Hamma Hamma River

83 year old Carol Ferguson has been missing since mid September.  She looks familiar to me, perhaps because she was a Monday Hiker and I have hiked with the Monday Hikers a few times.  I can't keep up with their pace, so I don't go with them very often.  

"We're so laid back, we laugh at our mistakes," says Carol Ferguson of Bremerton, one of the youngsters of the group at 59. "It's the most fun group I've ever been with."

Monday Hikers "laid back"?  Maybe they are laid back at lunch time.

Perhaps I've seen her on the streets of  Bremerton too:  Carol Ferguson knows what rots the teeth and brains of Bremertonians.

I had an intuition that told me Carol Ferguson wandered off of the Putvin trail and onto the old road that crosses the trail.  

  I’m not psychic, I’m not even sure if that is a thing, but I could not shake my intuition about this familiar looking woman.   I asked search and rescue of Mason County if they had searched that road and they refused to tell me.  They said they could not comment on an open case and that I should call the Bremerton police department.

 I never called the Bremerton police.

It seemed like the snow levels were low enough to search the old road, so I asked Phil to go search the road with me.  Who wants to go on a search like this alone?  Phil was up for it of course.  He loves going on adventures off the beaten path.

There was more snow on the drive in than I expected.  I had to park ¼ of a mile from the Putvin trail along with a bunch of other cars.  The days of finding sweet solitude on the Putvin trail are gone.  The Lena Lake crowd has arrived.  The fragile meadow is getting stomped to death; this makes me sad.

I was early, so I flew my camera a bit searching up and down the Hamma Hamma river next to the road.  If Carol had fallen into the river maybe there would be some sign.

Phil arrived and we headed for the trailhead.  We saw search and rescue flags (SAR from here on in this blog post).  SAR had done a grid search.  We could tell by the flags and by the week that I spent training to be in SAR years and years ago.  I never finished my training because they started charging for the training.  I think they have changed that policy since and the training is free again.

The snow on the road was nasty, we were post holing about every four to five steps.  Miserable.  We searched the woods opposite the trail head first, in case Carol had never made it to the trail and because the area is pretty.  I found an old memorial marker that I could not read.  The writing was too faded.

We then looked at the SAR ribbons on the road some more.  They all seemed to be dated 11/18, I did not realize that they had searched that recently.  My understanding from reading the news articles was that they only searched for four days.

 So up the trail we went and there was less snow than on the road, so the going was easy other than the steepness of the trail.  When we got to the old road the snow was nasty again with intermittent post holing.  It was not bad enough for snowshoes, but it was bad.

The old road walk

I was leading the way and before we rounded a certain corner I told Phil, the spot where my intuition tells me she was, is just around the corner.  I braced myself a tiny bit just in case my intuition was right.

A snow and debris avalanch across the old road

We rounded the corner and we found a gaping ravine where the road had washed away.  There was a rope going down into the ravine and another rope going up the other side.  There was a creek in the ravine.

It felt it was too dangerous to continue on those ropes.  Did Carol hike this old road and try to go up and down that rope?  Did Carol even hike on this road?  No way to know.  

Phil was fine with going up and down the ropes, but I was not.  I would want a harness and crampons for that job.  The rope was so skinny, I’m sure my hands and arms would get tired and maybe I would lose my grips and fall backwards into the 30 foot deep ravine.

A much smaller ravine on the trail

I pulled my flying camera from my pack and scoured the creek bed as best I could.  It is not easy to fly a camera in a ravine, if  my flying camera lost its GPS signal in the ravine it would crash, so I kept my camera mostly above the trees tops. 

I control my flying camera with just a little phone screen and it is hard to see any details until I get my footage home and look at it on my computer.

Just down from where the ravine took out the road, I did see something on the footage.  It is probably just a bit of wood and not a red backpack.  I wish I had a clearer picture.  Should I go back and risk my flying camera by trying again or should I call the Bremerton police and potentially waste their time?
Here is the photo:

It’s not clear if that is anything.

Since  we had hit a dead end we had lunch and then packed up and headed back.  On the way back we ran into a climber who had just summited Bretherton!  He was coming down a ravine that was right next to the ravine where we had to turn back.  He had avoided the awful roped up ravine by going straight up the ravine next to it instead.

The climber looked absolutely exhausted.  What an insane route he took to climb Bretherton and apparently he was solo?  Saner climbers normally go up Bretherton via Upper Lena Lake.

When we got back down to the main road we walked up the valley a bit to try to find the ravine where it met the road.  The ravine has no water it where it must meet the road and we could not really find it.   The water must go underground before it reaches the road.

I would like to check out the ravine where it crosses the old road on the switchback that is nearly parallel to the switchback in the trail.  We did not walk that section of the road because we were sick of post holing in the snow.

We did not find anything,  but we had a good hike and my  nagging intuition is gone.

only 5 miles with 1,000 feet elevation gain but I am really sore this morning.  Intermittent Post holing took it out of me.

On the way home I got stuck on 101 where a tree had fallen across the road.  When 101 is closed there is no real way around it and it can be closed for hours.  

 I don't like sitting in long traffic jams and breathing in exhaust fumes, so whenever I get stuck on 101 now, I leave the line and go relax somewhere until the road is open.

I went back to Hoodsport and hung out at the library parking lot until the road opened.  I used the library wifi, brewed a coffee and ate some yummy survival rations while I waited.  The parking lot has a great view of 101 so I knew right way when the road was open again.

Hamma Hamma

The ravine where we had to stop.  We are in this photo.

Same ravine but up stream from the road

Ravine where it crosses the old upper closed road

SAR ribbons on the FS 25 road

We did not enter the wilderness at all,
we were below the wilderness at all times.

One of the first people to perish on this trail

Sage was a real PITA at lunch time howling for more and more food 

A wild cherry tree

Someone lost their glove on the FS 25 road.

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