Yesterday we had a very enjoyable breakfast at the Galice Resort with some of the folks who made the blog so interesting during the search for the Kim family up in the Rogue River Wilderness. I’ll put up some pictures soon though I only took a few along the route because this set of pictures, taken about 3 months back, was so good.
At breakfast we had Bob Hollenbeck and his wife Sue, John Rachor, Sara (JoCoSAR), and Emily (RogueRiverRat78)
John, who was spotted Kati and the girls, flew in and out in his Chopper.
After breakfast Emily and Sara took me all the way up to where the Kims had stopped the car and became snowed in, and many miles before that where James had made the fateful decision to head down into Big Windy Canyon. Phew – that is a quite a road up there when you take the BLM 34-8-36 (which may be named differently depending on the local person you talk to). This is the right turn they took after backing up from snow on the route NF23 which does go over to Gold Beach. The gate to BLM 34-8-36 is NOW LOCKED on the BLM road that heads off to the right, and I understand that the BLM plans to keep it locked all season. There was a rock cairn and picture of James on one of the posts as a memorial that had been placed recently there.
The pictures can’t really convey how steep Big Windy Canyon is where you head down off the road, and my windy tour with Emily and Sara made it clearer to me how hard it was to get people in there to search, how huge the search area was, and how difficult the searching would have been in those conditions. Bob Hollenbeck wants to take an onstar up there this summer to see if it’ll work.
Another thing that became very clear to me was how difficult the search was made by the false reports of sightings of the family, including ones way over in Gold Beach. This made it very hard to narrow the search area.
John Rachor’s excellent warning sign was up near the left turn off of Galice Road and up into the high country but in my opinion it’s unfortunate he had to move it back from where it was. I’m a lot more familiar with that area than any tourist would be and it’s still pretty darn confusing with respect to signage. That said, we now know Kati and James made a decision to back up from the Forest Service 23 after they hit snow and take the lower road. Better signs would have helped keep them off this road, but it was not signage that got them to take this “wrong road”.
At the car site little was left from the Kim’s extraordinary challenge of facing 9 days there with little food. The fire area had been scraped mostly clear – it was about 50 yards from where the car was which was near the middle of the intersection of 3 roads.
Sara spotted a red package way up in the bushes which turned out to be an emergency blanket that had been dropped after Kati was found but before they could pick her up.
All in all an amazing day yesterday where I got a much better idea of the scale of this search and the difficulties faced by Kati, James, and their family. I can’t thank Emily and Sara enough for a remarkable tour of the area that seemed so oddly familiar even though I’d never been there. On the *long* way back to Galice up and down that windy road it was even clearer to me how James Kim would be OK with the outcome of his personal tragedy – his family is safe and is going to be fine.