Monday, May 16, 2011

On a treasure hunt

I was wandering around somewhere on the web a few months ago and ran across a short blurb about the Forest Service looking for some volunteers with cameras to help with a research project. I sent an email to the person in charge and kind of forgot about it because she was too busy to respond for a couple of months. I finally met with her a couple of weeks ago and she gave me my first assignment. She gave me a notebook with maps and descriptions and sample photos, and my task was to go to the exact locations at which the initial pictures had been taken and take updated pictures from exactly the same spots covering exactly the same scenes. Sounds simple. I should have listened more carefully to the description of where to turn off of Cherry Creek road, though. I spent an hour on the wrong road. I enjoyed being on the wrong road, but by the time I got to the right place it was too late to get good pictures.

I came across this while I was on the wrong road.

It probably wouldn't have helped much if I had gotten to the right place an hour sooner, though. The maps are called treasure maps for a reason. The reference pictures were taken in 1997 or 2003. For that reason, I didn't think I could rely on trees looking the same, or even being there any more. I looked for large boulders in the pictures to use as a reference. I walked slowly down the creek (Oak Creek, BTW) trying to follow descriptions and looking for recognizable boulders. I went beyond where the last one should have been without finding any of the 5 that were there.

Much of the hike was easy walking like this, but there was also some scrambling over boulders.

Some reference pictures seem to have nothing but vegetation in them. They're going to be hard to find. I looked for big boulders, thinking that they shouldn't have changed much in 14 years. I continued to look as I headed back to the truck. At one point I saw a stack of rocks that looked a little familiar. I moved to the left and recognized a view from Photo Point #5. Finally. I knew it was the right spot, but some things still didn't look right. As I looked at the pictures last night, I saw that a large boulder that I was looking for on the ground was now half buried and had another large boulder in front of it. Wow, some big stuff has been moved around in the past few years. It was too dark in the canyon to get good pictures, but now I have a reference point. From there I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find the rest of the Photo Points the next time I'm out there.

I also found this. It was nice of him to pose for pictures. I saw another, lighter colored one but it hid under a rock.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


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