SAR Day 61: Tyler Wright
continued from previous
Saturday August 28th dawned clear and cool. I attended Squamish command at 07:30 to prepare for the day’s task. By this day, the 12th of the task, the command centre was operating like a well oiled machine; three command trailers, one for command, one for communications and one for planning. A large garage for searchers to gather, eat and decompress. A sign-in area, a proper and complete briefing, and really good maps of the search area.
After a large group briefing we were assigned our individual task; I was asked to take a tracker and another Coquitlam SAR member back to the area of DeBeck Pass and Lake 882 where I had searched before; we were to “close the door” on these areas with the tracker — with his help we would, hopefully definitively, rule out Tyler’s passage through these areas into the DeBeck and Coquitlam drainages.
Our flight in took us to LZ 8, where I was dropped on day three of the search, and we proceeded to “sign cut” for the next several hours. The task of sign cutting is walking through an area looking for signs of human, or other passage. The skill in sign cutting revolves around detecting the sign, and determining whether it’s human or animal, and further, whether it is the particular human you are looking for. The tracker in our team took the time to point out sign that he detected, and told us how he differentiated between humans and animals, and the age of various tracks.
Since searchers had been in the area previous to this day, we did find sign; all of it was of searchers with proper footwear (mountaineering boots, with lugs) rather than the trail runners our subject was wearing. We also saw lots of animal sign.
People have a way of walking through the bus, just like animals do; we tend to choose the easiest way through the bush as is only natural. Experienced backcountry travelers try to determine how hard the going will be based on maps, and air photos. However, once you’re on the ground, it becomes a series of simple choices tempered by experience and a general direction of travel.
Inexperienced travelers tend to get “sucked” into creek beds. These are tempting, because in low water times they are like very rough roads through the wilderness, and hopping rock to rock is much easier in most cases than pushing your way through the bush. However, creeks erode the land around them and when you follow a creek, most of the time you end up in a gully system of some sort. In fact, most of the truly lost people we search for are found in creeks and gullies.
View Boise Valley / Fool’s Gold Route in a larger map