Report From Friday by Cynthia…

January 31st, 2016

 BY cynthia

West Rim Photo Shoot for Randy

I was hoping Sacha and her group of a dozen plus searchers would find Randy in the canyon yesterday…the “figure” sprawled on top the large boulder looked promising from the drone footage taken a week or so ago. Alas, they identified that spot, and it was not a body…
So here I am once again…passing along the only information I can contribute to our search for our fellow Fenn treasure-hunter Randy Bilyeu…
The only idea I had left was to hike out to the West Rim of White Rock Canyon through Bandelier to the spot across from the raft…I’d set my camera with 300 mm zoom lens on a tripod and photograph a grid of pictures which I could then send the link to Dal for anyone to download onto their own computers, and zoom in even more. Maybe someone will see something…
Forrest made me promise that I wouldn’t make the hike alone so I called Roger who lives in Santa Fe to see if he’d escort me…he said he would.

Early the next day, we headed to Bandelier. The day before I had told the rangers there at the visitors’ center what my plan was…to hike out through the back-country to the rim. They said no problem and asked me to remain on the trail…I debated if I should explain my plan to them again…no trail usage intended…we would follow the south rim of Frijoles Canyon to the river and turn south. They hesitated and said okay…they wrote down my name and phone number and party of 2. They warned me that if my car was still in the parking lot there at dusk, we would be considered lost, and a search party would be sent out. Heaven forbid anything goes awry, I thought…


The drive across NM502 that Friday morning was beautiful…we couldn’t have asked for better weather for January. We rode in silence much of the way…both of us contemplating our day ahead…neither Roger nor I had ever hiked across the back-country here so did not know what to expect. The lady ranger told me we were looking at a 10-mile roundtrip hike. That didn’t sound too extreme at our ages if you are on level terrain with good footing…but this was bush- whacking across the undulating mesa tops covered in vegetation and a lot of pre-cut dead branches. And that thought of absolutely having to be back to the car by dusk weighed heavy on my mind.
We parked, gathered our gear, and headed to the Frijoles Falls trailhead where we would make our 400-ft ascent up the switchbacks on the south side of the canyon to reach the mesa top. Much of the trail was still snow-covered…I followed the fresh rabbit tracks ahead of me.

ImageExtract-002 I wanted to sprint to the top…but Roger wanted to take in the scenery. It was the right thing to do since who knew when we’d return here. At the top of the switchbacks, we left the trail and headed east along Frijoles Canyon rim…it was mostly a pleasant hike.

ImageExtract-003 ImageExtract-004

It took us 2 hours to get to the top of the rim across from the raft…we weren’t directly across from it but close enough. As I set up my tripod and attached the zoom lens to the camera, Roger was already busy using the binoculars, searching…


We were quiet much of the time…the only sound was the shutter release repeating over and over…90 times to be exact because that’s how many photos I took during the grid shoot. Even when I finished, we both sat there…I took a few pictures on my phone which I sent to Forrest to let him know we made it safely to the rim. I was surprised there was enough of a signal, but when I received a reply from him, I knew they sent.
I joined Roger right out on the edge…it was almost spiritual…it’s hard to explain the feeling I felt… looking for Randy, trying to think like Randy…I’m sure most of the other folks who have done their own boots-on-the-ground searches as well as Forrest and his teams in the chopper, all understand what I mean.


After an hour and a half, I asked Roger if he was ready to pack up and head back…no response. Ok…I knew we had plenty of time to get back before dusk. We talked about what a spectacular day it was…the setting up on the mesa top looking north or south along the Rio Grande was absolutely gorgeous if you like the desert…we both do. We talked about how we wished we’d brought camping gear so we could stay longer…it was that spectacular to us, and the solitude and quiet was so peaceful…
Eventually, we packed up and headed home…
Here is the link to the pictures: I’d like to thank my BFF Tom back in Pennsylvania who allowed me to post these on his SmugMug site.


81 thoughts on “Report From Friday by Cynthia…

  1. Gosh. I was thinking of running the images through a pixel scanner (which I would need to code) to pick out all locations that are “blue” (Randy’s back pack), but there is a hell of a lot of blue in the images. Automated search will be of no help.

  2. Thank you cynthia and Roger for going out there again. Your pictures were beautiful. Wish there was a sign of randy.

  3. Thank you for the report, Cynthia. I’ll view the photos this evening. Glad you and Roger were able to take in the beauty before turning back. Silence speaks louder than words.

  4. Thanks Cynthia for the report and thanks to Roger too. I want to look at your pictures and I’m sure you friend’s Smugmug account is going to get a record number of hits as we all try to get on at the same time! You all are doing a fantastic job and your efforts are greatly appreciated by every one of us.

  5. New Mexico has such a rugged landscape. Your shots remind me of why I love that place and why I spent a few years in a row spending most of my vacation days there.

  6. Cynthia, this is an incredible dataset. Just downloaded the whole bundle and will get to work scanning through the images. Thanks to you and Roger for your efforts with this.

  7. Those photos give the viewer a good feel for the frijoles area.
    Considering two of the clues one the raft was damaged and Leo was injured.
    I am wondering if Randy tried to get back to his car walking along the river?
    The part that does not make sense is he would not leave his dog behind.
    In some of the first photos I noted the pines. Yet another reason for my belief
    Randy is in the frijoles area. Please indulge me for a moment.

    Considering the map found in Randy’s car;
    I take the x’s as observation points. Note the dotted line from the road to the area near the river. Was Randy looking for a path up the frijoles canyon??
    Keeping in mind footprints and dog prints were found going in and out of the canyon. Also noted on the map HOB marked. I stumble across this;
    couple that with the photo of the ruins here just ticks in my mind.
    A lot of the features of the area resonate with the poem, I can see why Randy could have chosen the area as a search area. Think about the poem and the area. Am I nuts for thinking Randy would have possibly gone exploring the area around EL KIT0 DE LO5 FRIJOLES ??? In case of a injury would Randy have
    entered a cave for shelter??

  8. Cynthia, you did a great job of documenting the area in photo’s. The photos give us a better look at what you searchers have struggled against in your efforts to find Randy.

  9. Was there someone across the river walking in photo #63? About the first 1/4 photo from left/nearly center, now, to the left of large tree, looks like a possible path.

    Different angle…(Bottom left of photo is a large tree. Go straight up to the first small, solid patch of snow. Now, left of large tree.)

    It’s either someone walking (maybe navy blue/black), a rock or tree. It’s quite small to see even when I zoomed my computer at 300% to see this. What are your thoughts?

  10. In this picture I can make out someone sitting in front of a boulder at about 1 o’clock and 2 inches down from the top, When I zoom in I can see his hat and boots and I think bare arms. Was anybody searching that area when Cynthia took this picture? By the way, kudos to Cynthia and Roger for an excellent job done I am glad I can share my two cents from here in Penna.

    • I see what you have pointed out. Good find. It does appear to be blue and about the size of a daypack

    • @Eric Garrison, “In this picture I can make out someone sitting in front of a boulder at about 1 o’clock and 2 inches down from the top, When I zoom in I can see his hat and boots and I think bare arms.”

      I did not find any human in the image.

      • Hello Desertphile. I viewed the photo and didn’t find a human either. I returned to try and find what others thought they saw and I could understand. It’s amazing what the eyes think it sees. Look at the photo again, this time, look at the big rock that is near a big pine tree amongst the pine trees. You can’t miss it. It runs alongside the rock field. In that rock and tree area, you’ll see a dark shadow. The shadow looks like a human. Zooming in at 200% on my computer, it shows it’s a shadow from the dark side of the rock, beside/behind the tree and the face and bare arms are actually two, sunlit tree branches from this tree. Let me know if you see it. 🙂

        • pdenver,

          Ok I agree now, I could not see it before but I do now, also what looks like a blue thing left of his feet, about 10-12ft if that shadow does represent a human size. What gets me is if it is a blue pack, and the human shape… is human,,it is a living and a hiding human. I’m not to sure a person dies standing up.

          What I thought you were looking at was in the upper rt corner. There are three small patches of snow, in between the middle and lower left there is a shadow that resembles legs and a boot silloet over the patch of snow. But boot to knee proportions are off IMO to be human. But the position is more like an injured or dead person.

          • A person doesn’t die standing up, I agree. Upon closer examination it appears he may be sitting on a cleft or ledge with the rock as a back support. This is the position I would imagine FF would be in after going to his “special spot” to die. A room with a view so to speak. I don ‘t see anything blue though. Does anyone know if there were any searchers in the area when these pictures were taken?

    • Yes, Eric, I see the person, bare arms, hat, sitting against the boulder. And when I look an inch down from him and a half an inch to the left, I see what might be a dark blue thing on a rock, like a day-pack.

      • Golden Retrievers: I am glad you see what I am seeing because Desertophile says he doesn’t see it. This is what taking these pictures is all about. We can take our time while at home in front of our computers and lookfor a needle in a haystack.

  11. Cynthia

    Is there any way you can post a link to a google map that has circles of all the different areas that have been searched by both people and drones? If so can it be updated when a new spot is searched in the future? IDK if this is too much to ask or even possible but figured I’d ask. Either way, thanks to everyone who has and still is looking.

    • Bookworm, this is a really good idea and something that we have been discussing. Maybe I can send something to Dal to post under it’s own thread, and folks can update it with accurate information. I’ll get in touch with Sacha and John “Brown” and Gene and Radcrad for their input as well as extrapolate as much search data from this blog as possible…like Jeff Burch’s searches, etc. I think Sacha intends to co-ordinate another group search Saturday so this would be most helpful to have by then. Thanks.

      • You’re welcome Cynthia. I sit here at work in California and try to look at google maps and mark off the canyons, stretches of river, and canyon rims that have been searched by you folks doing it and I’m not 100% sure which areas to cross off and which areas are left and might be a possible spot. I really wish I could take off work for 2-3 weeks and come out to join you all in person. Keep up the awesome teamwork.

      • Also may I suggest the map cover the area around where the car was found all the way down to the lake as well as at least 25 miles both East and West of the river.

        I was curious about any update from the group of Mountain Men who were going to search and camp out while searching. Has anyone heard an update from that group?

  12. OK, for some of you guys with better eyes and software here are a couple pics with things I can’t see well enough.
    Pic #51, Start at the lower right corner, follow edge up past first tree, past sunlit area to the start of the shade, then straight left past first tree, past vertical sunlit strip, to a dead tree/bush (many little bare branches) just to the right of the dead tree is a blue spot. I know, I know, a blue spot but it looks uniform and cylindrical. Maybe worth a quick check?

    Also pic #66, Starting at left edge almost exact middle, move right across small section of rocky slope to the white looking rock. Zoom in on the white rock and it develops a shape with black and what looks like yellow spots. There is much yellow in the pic but this is on the shady side of the rock. Something very off about it.

    Could somebody take a look at these and see what you think? I was very zoomed in on both objects but Office Picture Manager isn’t much to work with.

    • I looked at Pic# 51 but something caught my eye. In the same picture starting from the bottom middle and go up about 1/3 of the way/ look for an orange glare. Zoom in and tell me what you see. Just to let everyone know. The skin color of a person out in the elements would probably be grey/black by 4 weeks.

      • That bright yellow spot is what caused me to zoom in on that pic in the first place but it looks to me like a tuft of grass with the sun on it just right. Compare it to the grass closer to the bottom.

        You are right about the number being #46. When I saved it to my computer it became #51 and I forgot to change that when I wrote this. All of them that I saved changed numbers for some reason. Glad I managed to get the link right.

        • Tars.. I really don’t think it is grass. I filtered the grass color and it is still very bright. The intensity to me is a refection off something. I checked the sun angle and it is not direct but could be from the sun being reflected or distorted.

          • It is extremely bright and even appears to have a bright center point. Possibly something behind it reflecting through it. I don’t know. When I zoom in that close it looses all distinction and starts to look like a flame. There is also a very round white spot just up and to the left of it in the rocks. Looks like a reflection off something as well.

            The whole thing looks like a slide area. Any way to tell if there was recent movement?

    • Second post..looks like campers to me. Dome tent in orange,people standing around. Maybe the same campers Randy took a photo of.

    • Cynthia, Could you please remark on this comment. I think is it something to consider investigating. Did you log information of the area where this photo was taken. It seems to the to the South west from where the picture was taken. If all possible can someone look at the photo as well? thanks

      • Geydelkon, I’m positive the glare is a tuft of grass…whether or not there’s something small reflecting more sunlight I can’t tell. I was shooting into the sun for the photos south of the raft…both on the east side of the canyon (which this picture is) and on the west side. I was positioned at only one spot, so all pictures are fairly close to the raft. Look at the rock slide in this picture, and then go to a previous picture with a wider angle and get your bearings. This picture is moving up the canyon’s east side and south of the raft. Hope this helps.

        • I have never heard of grass reflecting a blaze unless it is on fire. On the other hand, something metallic would surely reflect light. Worth checking out but may be hard to locate in this difficult terrain.

          • @Eric Garrison, “have never heard of grass reflecting a blaze unless it is on fire. On the other hand, something metallic would surely reflect light. Worth checking out but may be hard to locate in this difficult terrain.”

            The phenomena occurs a few times in the image (DSC_0051.jpg) The center one is at 2911,2231 and another one is at 5571,1873. Another at 3136,274

            They all look like Rabbit Brush to me.

          • @Eric Garrison, “Desertphile: What do these numbers you posted refer to?”

            I gave numbers for pixel location, Height X Width. 0,0 is top left corner. Many image viewing programs will show X,Y location of the mouse cursor floating over an image. The images in question are 6000,4000 so the center pixel would be 3000,2000.

        • Thanks Cynthia, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. We got a lot of snow here in Colorado Springs and trying to dig out a little. I appreciate people looking. It was something for everyone to evaluate.

          Now that the sun is coming out this weekend, please be safe. And if you want to stand near the edge of a cliff, please have some one be there with you. Use the help of a person to tether to or tie yourself it to the nearest anchor. So many people get hurt and killed each year. I had seen a few scary videos recently.

          SAFETY FIRST!

  13. Cynthia, Amazing tenacity. Seeing your photos gives me an appreciation of the scale of the river and landscape. It’s much steeper, wider, rougher than I had imagined from the earlier pictures.
    You have a heart of gold.

  14. The effort to get the images was gallant, and I had very much hoped the images would show where Randy is. I am dismayed that he has not been found yet.

    I am writing a computer program to analyze the images via computer automation— looking for the least common colors out of 2,712,000,000 pixels. My assumption is that Randy would have with him something “unnatural” in color. I must log in a relational database each color by image file name, H;W location (two two-byte integers), and color (one four-byte long integer). Maybe my relational database can see what human eyes missed.

    • DP, you are one talented man. Herd cattle, great voice ( YouTube) computer whiz.. On top of all your talent you have a quirky personallity that everyone appreciates! 🙂

      • @BW, “DP, you are one talented man. Herd cattle, great voice ( YouTube) computer whiz.. On top of all your talent you have a quirky personallity that everyone appreciates! :)”

        Aww, gosh, you have me blushing….

        My computer is 30% through the images at the moment, having run all night. I left in the image that has the red arrow, as a “control:” my database should flag it as an anomaly, and if it does not, I did something wrong.

  15. Cynthia, thanks to you and Rodger for the great photos.
    Picture 52, left side, along second ridge from bottom. Appears to be something laid out across the rock. Hard to see for sure but could be a sleeping bag or a pair of waders laid out to dry. Looks more like a single long object, like a sleeping bag, not like two legs of waders This could be to be checked out the next drone flight.

      • Thank you for pointing this out…I agree the black object is a rock. I also identified exactly where this is in relation to the raft. It is downstream and up the bank a bit, which caused me to wonder why Randy would choose a location so far from the raft to dry his waders, sleeping bag, etc. when there’s a large boulder right beside the raft. However, none of us know what he was thinking so all possible scenarios and possible items seen in the photos should be investigated by other viewers looking at the pictures. Thanks for your input.

  16. I was watching the news here in Denver this morning and they were saying they may have found a backpack belonging to Randy in Bandelier

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