We decided to geocache northeast of Ellie Lane Trail (north of Peak 2635 and east of Peak 2703) with the main purpose of getting some isolated back-country hiking that we greatly enjoy. We started at Iron Mountain Staging Area and, because we had limited time, skipped the first two geocaches which were relatively near the staging area. We could find them another time since we frequently use this staging area.
We followed Iron Mountain Peak Trail to Wild Horse Trail to Miners Trail. At the eucalyptus grove, we took the north branch of Miners Trail toward Table Rock and then at the first junction took the east branch of Miners Trail near the stream. Brandy was enjoying exploring, generally keeping ahead of me.
As we approached the junction of Miners Trail and Ellie Lane Trail immediately west of “Slickrock” (32° 59.345′N 116° 57.451′W)—lots of exposed flat rock at the bottom of a wash—I wanted to make sure Brandy knew which way we were going. There are five trails radiating from a 50-yard section of trail and it could be a bit uncertain. I called Brandy and she came almost immediately. She then went immediately out of sight with her exploring, as she usually does. I continued for less than a minute southbound on Ellie Lane Trail when suddenly I felt uneasy about Brandy. I called her again just to make sure she was with me. Silence.
I whistled. Again, silence. I heard a very faint, barely detectable repetitive clicking sound a little to the north of the trail junction so moved through the chaparral and climbed on top a three-foot high rock about fifty feet away. I listened but the sound was so faint that I couldn’t distinguish it. Occasionally, the sound of an aircraft in the distance would break the silence. Each time I waited for the aircraft sound to disappear, whistled and called Brandy’s name and then listened intently. Nothing. I took off my backpack, marked the waypoint on my GPS and moved around to try to locate the sound again. Silence.
I decided that the sound was most likely not from Brandy, put on my backpack and started hiking Ellie Lane Trail toward the north, whistling and calling for Brandy. I decided that I didn’t want to get too far from where we were last together so returned to the trail junctions.
I whistled and called Brandy’s name a few more times and then heard a double bark far down the valley to the southwest. It sounded like Brandy’s bark but thought it was too far away. I called and whistled again and heard a single bark so headed south on the segment of Miners Trail that parallels Ellie Lane Trail. When I got about a hundred yards down Miners Trail, I spotted Brandy running rapidly toward me. What a relief! As she approached I saw that she was running on three legs. Her left front leg had something black on it and I thought she had somehow hurt that leg. I quickly saw that her leg was caught in her loose collar and immediately released her leg. I have no idea what she might have been chasing that led her so far away so quickly. She apparently got her collar or harness caught in the chaparral and was finally able to free herself. I’ll be researching a small GPS unit to attach to her so I can quickly locate her—hopefully not necessary—in the future. I use SPOT for myself but that won’t work for her.
We had a very joyous reunion, and after I tightened Brandy’s collar, went back to Slickrock to pick up the use (social) trail leading east in order to find a few geocaches.