To add a little bit to the "other" group taking the "shortcut" to Middle Quartz:
The trip was going well for the better part of an hour. I wouldn't call this route a shortcut, but I would call it a scenic route. It was going up through a safari-like grassy fields and meadows, up through some trees with some babbling brooks, and was just pretty in general. We were following the maps and GPS fine but we got to a point where loggers had altered/created trails and carsonite was missing at some intersections. The area didn't quite match what my map (National Geographic) showed as far as trail intersections were concerned, and the GPS wasn't helping very much either. So we decided to try and take the left fork, which should have circumvented the knob of the hill we were trying to go over and then zigzag back down the other side to the Middle Quartz campground. Well it didn't. It took us WAY left and ended up pointing us back down towards the valley from whence we had come. Finally we got to an intersection that was numbered, but I couldn't find the numbers on my map. Tim Nakari pulled out his Gazetteer and when we looked at the trails (at a much smaller scale than I would normally try to navigate by) we thought we were at such-and-such an intersection that would take us down to our desination. We started that way and came to another intersection that again had poor signage. We went left and down and ended up at a closed gate
. Before we had a chance to turn around, an ATV came up from the other side of the gate and we discussed briefly where he thought he was and compared it to where we thought we were. We were still on the east side of Waunita Pass, it was discovered, and so we had to go back up to the last intersection where we had gone left, as we should have continued straight instead of turning. After a few minutes of going through the woods we came out at Waunita Pass and continued down to Pitkin.
I felt bad about the whole thing for a couple reasons:
1. I was the "leader" of the group and ended up getting us lost. I wasn't diligent with my mapping skills and didn't completely adhere to the rules you are supposed to use when navigating with a map. I think there were times I was trying to fit the terrain to where I thought I was on the map rather than let the terrain tell me where I was on the map. I also didn't use a compass like I should have to orient myself and make sure we were travelling in the right direction.
2. I also didn't have a complete map of the area; the trail we were supposed to go on was JUST on the edge of the map I had and by the time we got lost we were off of my maps so I was useless.
3. I didn't want to trust the GPS units in some of the other vehicles; because we were pretty far off of a paved road I didn't think the GPS had any idea where we were. I still think the GPS units were wrong in a couple instances, but I should have been more willing to stop and try to match what they were saying up with what the map said so that we could use two tools instead of one.
So I apologize to those who were there and had to put up with me and my stubbornness and then ended up bailing us out of the situation. While it wasn't critical at any point (we weren't low on fuel, have an injured person with us, low on food, we knew how to go back the way we came etc.) it was a wake-up call to me that it's been a few years since boy scouts and I haven't been keeping in good practice with orienteering and I need to brush up on it some more. That and maybe get a GPS unit (which I've been wanting to do anyway), learn how it works, and learn how to use it in parallel with the maps.