We told Tom to stay in contact on the radio as long as he
could, because there was no cell service where we were camped. It took quite a while to get dinner made and
the camp set up since we decided on stew once more, and we made it from
scratch. We also reset the campsite
configuration and set up tarps in case the rain began in earnest. With a water source close by, and several days
on the trail, it was time for a shower.
Everyone lined up for a chance with the onboard hot shower system. Between everyone jockeying for the next turn
and portaging buckets of water to the YJ to run through the system, the whole
process became quite comical. It had
become downright chilly after the sun set and we huddled around the
campfire. Matt broke out his laptop and
we watched a movie, silently hoping Tom’s call sign would come loud and clear
across the radio. The hour got late, and
we still hadn’t heard from Tom. Matt and
I became concerned and decided we had better go look for him.
Our HAM radios were double checked, the trailer was unhitched
from the YJ and Matt and I set forth on a rescue mission. We continued to do regular radio checks with
Marcus at camp and called out to Tom. We
got out of range of camp being able to transmit to us, but only a couple
minutes more and we heard Tom shout out his call sign! We breathed a sigh of relief and began
coordinating to determine where Tom was and how to meet up with him. We finally met up at Summitville and headed
back to camp. We learned some valuable
lessons in this situation. First, we did
not have comprehensive communication plan in place before Tom left. Second, we didn’t implement our APRS
navigation radios properly to the situation.
Both of these learning points were applied to the Flatwater Overland SOP
for future journeys. This situation also
showed us once again the power of HAM radio in overland travel. We also later determined that Tom was 30-40
miles away when we first contacted him, and Marcus was able to monitor every
transmission between Tom and our mobile radio at base camp.