That's what I'm coming up with too. I spent some time over lunch today reading through notes and everything I can come up with is opinion, conjecture, theories, etc... Nothing concrete enough for me to say as fact.
I agree that some or most of the "old timers" probably knew about this - especially those folks in the Thomas/Petrasch camp most likely.
The theory that the "doodle" was traced in reverse is something I came across from a number of discusions. Personally it worries me a bit when people try to find a way to "fit" a map, drawing, etc... to a theory rather than the other way around - even when the theory makes reasonable sense (tracing it in reverse).
I know you said you hadn't found any views of the Needle that match that photo, but I wonder if there's any locations to the NW of Weaver's Needle that affords that view - maybe not perfectly, but at last somewhat close. I may have add that to my list of explorations to do
On the other hand, like I said, the idea that the doodle really should be reversed because of the way it was traced does make some sense - unfortunately, I have a feeling there are numerous places where that view can be seen. I know of one place on the eastern side of the Supers that affords that view along with a "gun sight."
One of the opinions I kept coming across is that this "doodle" may have been one of 3 or 4 that he made before he died trying to give Rhiney directions and that there were verbal explanations that went with them that have obviously been lost. Just a theory - nothing to substantiate it so I'm just tossing it out there in case someone wants to do more research.
The only link I can't find is how the doodle made it from Herman to Helen Corbin. I can make some educated guesses, but that's all they would be.