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Day 5

Search Base

Local forecast: High 31C Sunny with light winds this afternoon. There will be no clouds to give the guys a break with the temperature today.

The teams deployed at 08:15.

With the input of some local knowledge the search will again be northeast of Bridgeport and expanding the area to cover two more canyons to the east of the primary grid. Simon was playing his head banger music this morning to get that extra motivation and drive for the search today. There was some thievery of leftover pizza this morning and the culprit left a note and a cucumber for the owner in the empty pizza box. All done in good humour and well received. The athletes were in high spirits as they left for the search area.

Day 4 Summary

Today was an interesting day. We finished off the northern edge of the terrain along Hwy 128. We basically travelled all the deep canyons and slopes along the edge, obviously focusing on the most wooded sections. It was very difficult travelling up steep and loose scree slopes, as well as through very dense alder thickets along the creek bed. Most of us got sliced and diced by the thornes in these creek beds, but nothing that would slow us down.

Today was probably the hottest day yet, and we could really feel the dry air as we burned through our water. Derek recorded 40 degrees celcius on his Suunto watch. Most of us finished over 4 litres during 8.5 hours of searching. The feet were definitely sore by the end of the day and Gary is winning the blister contest, with some big nasty ones to his credit.

We worked well as a team today and covered some great area. As with all previous days, we found interesting debris, although nothing as exciting as the airplane door that we found yesterday and reported to the county sheriff’s office. Silver helium balloons seem to be a common item to find. We had a helicopter follow our search area earlier in the day and witnessed first hand some of the light aircraft that fly the 128 corridor, with some of the planes actually flying below us!

I am pleased about the difficult terrain that we have covered so far, but still hopeful that we will find the wreckage. The team is still focused and looking forward to another 2 days of searching.

The team went into Bridgeport tonight for a team dinner, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

So we are down to the final days now and still motivated and ready to push ourselves despite the sore feet, cut legs, and general fatigue that catches up with you after 5 days of difficult trekking.

DAY 4

Search Base

Local weather: high 30C sunny in the morning partly cloudy in the afternoon.

The teams deployed at 08:30

Today the search will be northeast of Bridgeport California. This will be a continuation of Tuesday’s search. The athlete’s spirits are high and they are ready to get out there and search.

Day 3 Summary

Day 3 took us above 10,000 ft and we spent most of the day between 9,000 – 10,500 ft. Overall, the weather was great. Morning was cold, but it definitely warmed through the day.  We began our search near the old mining town of Belfort, at 10,200 ft and moved north from there. The goal was to search Ferris Canyon in detail, and scour the steep slopes and the alder-choked river bottom. Access to this region was difficult and required a careful traverse of some glacial terrain to the first vegetated area. The team divided to cover the canyon, and put 2 near the creek bed, and 2 on each slope. 

After the punishment our feet took yesterday, today was a bit easier as there was not as much brutal side sloping, although the stinging nettles, and dense alders took their toll on most members of the team. The greatest danger in the canyon, as we found out was the loose scree, which caused every member to take at least one fall. There were no injuries beyond cuts and bruises.

Because of the steep and loose terrain, we covered less terrain than the previous two days, but today’s area was very isolated and off the beaten track, which is exactly what we are after.

Overall, everyone is still in good spirits and hopeful that we will discover the wreckage. Feet are still in good shape for most of us, although Gary had some nasty blisters (they didn’t slow him down though), so we will be able to maintain a fast pace tomorrow, as we head back to continue searching areas near Day 1 and Day 2 search locations. 

DAY 3 Update

Search Base

The teams have crested Wheeler Peak (11631 feet) and are proceeding to the first search area. Rover One reports heavy inter-team radio communications as they now see the area first hand and are deciding how to space the athletes. The athletes are in good shape and high spirits.

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