Friday, July 14, 2017

Arc Dome Wilderness Nevada - July 2017 - Part Two

 please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version

The peak or the bomber?

It was agreed that Sunday would be a day apart. The Lady and I would, once again, go high and the Teds would enjoy the lower elevations with its groves of aspen, meadows, and the tumbling mountain stream. We have been to the top of Arc Dome previously and it would be fun to touch the top again. But, we had another possible destination. My research turned up this information on the crash of a World War Two B-24 bomber on 3 August 1945. It was up there, above us, somewhere around 11,000 feet. Could we find it?

This large four engine B-24 Liberator had survived combat with bombing runs over Germany during the war in Europe. It had nose art and was named, a tradition of warbirds. At one time it was known as "Dirty Gertie".

And, it was also called "My Achin' Back".

It returned state side in June of 1945 and was based in Michigan. In August of that year a crew of three were ferrying it to the airbase outside of Tonopah, Nevada. On the leg between Utah and Tonopah, it disappeared.

A friend, Pat Macha, a historic airplane crash site authority with several published books, is kindly sending me the crash report from 1945. It should reveal more answers to the puzzle. From what I know its flight path was from east to west and it ran into a thunderstorm. The crew may have been disoriented, confused. It plowed into the western side of the crest that suggests the crew may have turned around. But, this is speculation from a amateur based on seeing the crash site many decades later.

We topped out on the crest and began our search. It is wide open, high, and expansive.

Far off, a glint of aluminum caught our eyes. We carefully worked our way over.

We found this steel bottle particularly interesting.

It was correct. It was nonshatterable. It survived the crash.

The area held many pieces of Plexiglas possibly suggesting this is where the nose of the bomber impacted.

There was evidence of fire at the time of the crash. Melted aluminum flowed downslope, pooled, and cooled with small parts embedded.

There were no engine parts at this location but there were remains of several electric motors.

We found oxygen bottles, pieces of landing gear assembly, and one seat bottom.

This large bearing was one of the few pieces with a part number.

We climbed to a highpoint to overlook the site and were pleased to find the remains of an ancient hunting blind.

Far, far down in the drainage below, the Lady spotted two pieces of aluminum while glassing with her see mores. If we climbed all the way down to it, we would have to forget about another visit to Arc Dome this day. Down we went.

Among the aluminum pieces we found a large hydraulic cylinder, possibly for raising and lowering the landing gear.

This was at the site of a spring that was maybe used as a high camp for shepherds. Old trash remained.

The shooting stars were gorgeous here at the spring. The flowers provided a happy note to this tragic scene where three men lost their lives. We honored their service to our country, cognizant of the grieving family and friends they left behind so many years ago.

After our investigation and photography, we climbed back up out of the drainage and looked back and told Arc Dome we will visit again soon and touch the top one more time.

We loved dropping back down through the life zones as we descended back to camp.

We found Ted happy.

The feathered families also welcomed us back.

Ted asked the Lady for a favor Sunday evening. He explained he wanted to make the hike up to the Toiyabe Crest on Monday. Could the Lady help and put her legendary motivational skills to work? Skills that were one of the hallmarks of her teaching career.

 "I really want to see if I can do it. Can I make it to the top?" Ted asked.

"If you pay attention to my direction," the Lady explained. "You'll make to the top and, more importantly, you'll make it safely back to camp."

Ted was suited up ready to go the next morning. The mini expedition began.

The brilliant wildflowers cheered him on, up and up, ever onward as we climbed.

The Lady and I had no doubts Ted would reach his goal.

Ted had done well, very well indeed. We had time to relax up on top, well over 10,000 feet at this spot, take in the views, and celebrate Ted's achievement.

What goes up must come down. We began the descent.

We again passed through Pornography Grove.

And tackled the final miles.

Ted was our champion. It was an honor to share this day with him.

What was the Lady's secret this day? How did she motive Ted to dig deep, pull out all stops, and make it to victory?

Everything was right with the world. Even the little flicker cheered.

This was our last night together in camp. Our trip was drawing to a close. We wandered together, quietly, as night came.

Meeting with good friends in a favorite place. Thank you Ted and Donna for the wonderful trip!

Note: the campground only filled on Monday evening. It was busy by rural Nevada standards. Three or four vehicles came in Monday evening, all with plans to climb Arc Dome on Independence Day.