The luxury of having four teams out tracking is about to come to an end. Many of the trackers have been out since Monday and will be returning home today.
Two teams were placed along the peaks north of the LA Basin in order to pick up Marathon's signal as early as possible. The other two teams worked peaks and ridges to the south of where they believe Marathon was located.
Bingo! By 12:30, Marathon was clearly below the crest of the mountains and Mt. Wilson lost the signal. The two northernmost teams began their long journey home to Marin, Alameda and San Joaquin counties. Bill and Mike, on Elsinore Peak continued to record Marathon's movements while Phil and Linda were likewise busy on the San Jacinto Ridge. (These two locations were critical in determining Zoe's flight path). Marathon flew close enough to the San Jacinto Ridge that the team there was able to clearly hear her signal with the attenuator "On" (remember that little gadget which suppresses the signal so that only nearby signals are picked up). Phil and Linda decided to head down to Laguna Mountain, which is 20 miles north of the border with Mexico. Phil wanted to "hear" Marathon as she crossed the border. As they traveled on Hwys.79 and 371, they continued to pick up her signal. Unfortunately, Phil's car does not have air conditioning; therefore, Linda had to hold the receiver to her ear to hear the signal over the wind noise! And occasionally, they would pull over and take a bearing. But it all worked!
As Phil and Linda climbed up the road to Laguna Mt, the signal was crisp, clear and definitely "chirping" away. From approximately 3:45 to 5:45, they listened to the signal fade and return, first soaring then circling, back and forth. Phil said you could interpret Marathon's movements with such an active signal. Phil felt by the end of the day that Marathon was probably across the border. At the least, she was very close to the border; however, without a crossbearing we can't mark the time when she crossed.
It's been 18 years between Zoe and Marathon's flights were tracked by the GGRO Telemetry Teams. This year we had the luxury of being able to have 4 teams in the field for several days. In 1994, we only had 4 - 5 trackers out, in total. This year a total of 10 individuals were involved in tracking Marathon. There were some similarities, but there were also many differences in the flight paths of Zoe and Marathon, and they will be interesting to compare. Now we'll move into the data analysis phase. But no matter which path they took, in each case, there were 4 travel days between being banded and tagged in the Marin Headlands and crossing the border into Mexico. Marathon still has a marathon journey ahead of her.
Best wishes for a safe journey. We're going to head northward to sleep.