The one that got away!
By Bill Blaschko
Although I have been on RMRU only a short time, rumors had already reached me about the unusual nature of missions in the Corona area. As you will see, the mission in Tin Mine Canyon bears this out.
In May 28 the sheriffs department relayed a message to RMRU that there was an injured hiker up the canyon. An informant described coming upon a sleeping bag and some uncooked food up the canyon. The informant then heard a yell and some crashing through the shrubbery, he then went for help without ever actually seeing the subject. Forest service personnel were notified first and were looking for the subject when our team arrived on the scene. At approximately 11:00 p.m. Kevin Walker and Mark Hebert headed up the narrow canyon battling their way through thick brush, stinging nettles and veritable groves of poison oak. When radio communications became difficult John Dew moved up to a nearby ridge to serve as a radio relay. After meeting with Kevin and Mark, and outlining the areas they had searched, the Forest Service personnel hiked out leaving RMRU and the sheriffs deputy to finish the mission. As Craig Britton and Bill Blaschko were preparing to hike up the canyon Craig lacerated his finger on some brush cutting equipment. While the sheriff drove Craig to the hospital for a few quick stitches, Walt Walker and Bill Blaschko headed up the canyon to join in the search. This left Mary Bowman, the only other team member responding, to run the base camp.
While Kevin, Mark, Walt and Bill explored the area indicated by the informant, John Dew saw a flashlight from his vantage point on the ridge. After radio contact we turned off all our lights, but someone's flashlight was still visible to John. The subject was using his flashlight only intermittently and was coming down a ridge rather than the canyon. Kevin, Mark, Walt and Bill started back down while Craig Britton and the sheriff (now returned from the emergency room) waited at the bottom of the trail. John Dew was able to follow the subject to a point approximately 200 yards upstream from base camp, but saw no further evidence of the flashlight after that. In spite of our combined efforts the subject was able to slip out of the canyon without being found. Although it was not known why the subject eluded us, it was speculated that he may have been engaged in some illegal activity. According to the sheriff's deputy marijuana has been cultivated in that area in the past. We won't have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what happened because this is "the one that got away."
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