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N160JN, Part II

16 Aug

Pilot, Michael “Myke” Henry Baar, 1942 – 1971.

 

Five years ago I hiked to the remaining wreckage of a airplane which had crashed December, 1971, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. I subsequently wrote about it here in my blog. Earlier this spring, I was contacted by Suzy Holloran, the wife of the pilot who had died in the crash. Her 12 year-old grandson found my post while researching their family history. Suzy was surprised to learn that any wreckage of the plane still existed.  Back then, she had given permission to a salvage company to take the airplane. It appears they only took the stuff of high value, such as the instrumentation, radios, etc.

Suzy had asked me for the location and route to the crash, so that she, her husband, Mike Holloran, and her grown kids could go visit the site. I still had all of the GPS information saved of my hike to the plane five years earlier, which I passed along to Suzy, as well as an offer to take them to the site.  They took me up on that offer.

I met them at a nearby campground for dinner the day before our planned hike to the airplane.  A small anxiety had been building in me for weeks prior. Mostly it was fear of the unknown and unanswered questions like: were they going to be in good physical shape to do this hike?  Could they take responsibility for themselves? Were they going to blame me if someone got injured? Was I opening myself to liability?  Were they political or religious zealots? Did they wear flip-flops on long hikes? (This is an inside joke.)

My fears were quickly dispelled upon meeting them. They were welcoming, warm, gracious, fit and fun.  I would be joining nine on the hike: Suzy and Mike (both 72), and their grown kids, Matt, Katie (and husband Damon), Michael, Greg, and Becky. (Note there are 3 “mikes” in this story:  Myke, pilot, Mike, Suzy’s husband, and Michael, son.) Also with us was Ron Baar, Myke’s younger brother. It turned out Ron and I have mutual acquaintances from Aspen, Colorado. Michael and Greg traveled to Colorado from California and Oregon specifically for the hike. Everyone else came from various parts of Colorado.

When I left at the end of dinner and after the campfire, I was totally at ease and felt the the next day’s hike would go off without a hitch.

They picked me up bright and early and we caravaned to the trailhead. Suzy, who had physically trained for the hike, was full of energy and set off up the trail with all of us following. Ron, with various health issues, informed us he was only going as far as the first lake. I had done several long hikes in the weeks prior to prepare, so I was confident I would be able to make it to the plane. Plus I had a better idea of the route after the hike 5 years ago, so it was going to be easier.

(All photos are clickable for larger versions.)

Mike and Suzy Holloran

Mike and Suzy Holloran next to Boulder Creek.

The mood of the hike was light and everyone was catching up after not seeing each other for a while.  Initially the weather was great.

Stopping to admire the views.

Stopping to catch our breath in the thin air and admire the views.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Ron continued past the lake where he had planned to stop.

The flowers were gorgeous (after a dull season at slightly lower elevations) and the views spectacular.

Matt takes a photo of some Ptarmigan.

Matt takes a photo of some Ptarmigan.

 

Star Gentian

Star Gentian, one of the many species of flowers we saw.

 

It was a bit challenging as we approached the last rise. Five years ago there was more snow and in many ways it made it easier then. Now it was negotiating large ridges of rocks and boulders. I think it took a lot out of everybody.

Coming over the rocks and boulders. (Click for larger.)

Coming over the rocks and boulders. (Click for larger.)

We were a little spread out as we came over the last rise to view the lake and the airplane just beyond it. I felt an emotional weight upon seeing it.  I continued on, looking for the best route around the lake. Suzy was about 100 yards behind on the rise. I noticed she had stopped there with a couple of the others.  I’m sure it was an emotional moment for her.

Once past the lake, Suzy and the rest of the family approached the wreckage tentatively.  Some clouds had moved in and the wind picked up. Soon we were being splattered with snow pellets, which is not uncommon at this elevation (11,600 feet).

Approaching the wreckage.

Approaching the wreckage, with Suzy at the front.

Suzy rested her hands on the fuselage and recounted how she had sat in this seat with with her kids who were still babies at the time.  After the crash, she told of how a doctor was lowered by helicopter to save Myke, but he had already perished.  She was pregnant with their third child, who was born a week after the crash. I can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster she was enduring at the time.

Suzy had a simple plaque made and Matt and Michael affixed it to the fuselage. Ron, who had made it all of the way to the plane site, is a firefighter and affixed a “Smokey The Bear” pin to the seat of the airplane.

After a while, reflecting the mood, the weather lightened and the sun came out. As I chatted with Suzy about another hiker who had found Myke’s watch and sent it to her, her sons were analyzing the crash site trying to reconstruct in their minds what had happened.

Rear: Damon, Katie, Ron, Greg, Suzy, Mike, and Michael. Front: Matt and Becky.

Rear: Damon, Katie, Ron, Greg, Suzy, Mike, and Michael. Front: Matt and Becky.

We began the trek away from the inhospitable exposed rocks and back down into the tundra, flowers, forest, and eventually the trailhead. It was a nine hour hike, but all ten of us made it to the plane and back. It will be an unforgettable experience for the family and myself.  As Mike said at the end of the hike, “It was much bigger than I expected, big hike and big emotionally”.

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Myke Baar was 29 years old, a first officer for United Airlines, a flight instructor, with 4200 hours of flying time.

I invite the family members to share their experience of the hike in the comments below.

 

 

Cold Springs Fire: Two Weeks Later

26 Jul

Click on photos for larger versions.

This evening I went back to one of the view points I had of the fire a little over 2 weeks ago. I took some “after” photos for a comparison.

Little did I know at the time when I took this first photo, that there was a house in the upper right. All that stands now is a chimney and some solar panels.

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The following two photos are also aligned. The houses in these photos appear to have escaped major damage.

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The next three photos show what had to have been some remarkable structure protection efforts by the fire fighters.

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I’m not sure if the house in this final photo escaped damage.  From this angle it looks okay.

 

Cold Springs Fire

10 Jul

Photos from Day 2 of the Cold Springs Fire (click on photo for larger).

 

Chinook dipping into Barker Reservoir.

Chinook dipping into Barker Reservoir.

 

Chinook dropping a load.

Chinook dropping a load.

 

Black Hawk

Black Hawk

 

North side of Boulder Canyon

North side of Boulder Canyon

 

North Side of Boulder Canyon.

North Side of Boulder Canyon.

 

Chinook Helicopter

Chinook Helicopter

 

There is a house right in the center.

There is a house near the bottom of the stream of water.  When the flame showed up in the lower right, I got out of there.

 

Lockheed P2V Neptune

Lockheed P2V Neptune

 

 

This one is a jet.

This one is a jet (BAE 146).

 

 

 

 
 

Utah 2016, part 4: Landscapes and Wildlife

12 Jun
Zion National Park

Zion National Park

 

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

 

Pine Valley Peak on the right, Zion National Park

Pine Valley Peak and George, Zion National Park (click for larger, then click again)

 

Looking up canyon from the previous photo. Pine Valley Peak would be upper left.

Looking up canyon from the previous photo. Pine Valley Peak would be upper left.

 

Calf Creek Recreation Area

Calf Creek Recreation Area

 

Cliff Dwelling off of Steep Creek and The Gulch

Cliff Dwelling off of Steep Creek and The Gulch

 

Part of Cliff Dwelling.

Part of Cliff Dwelling.  Perhaps something used for food storage.

 

Cotton from cottonwood tree looking like a stream.

Cotton from cottonwood tree looking like a stream.

 

Geese landing, Horse Bench Reservoir

Geese landing at dawn, Horse Bench Reservoir

 

Road Runner

Road Runner

Go back to Utah 2016, Part 3.

 
 

Utah 2016, Part 3: Arches and other shapes

12 Jun
Grosvenor Arch, near Kodachrome State Park

Grosvenor Arch, near Kodachrome State Park

 

I can't remember

Unnamed arches in Willis Canyon

 

Shakespeare Arch in Kodachrome State Park

Shakespeare Arch in Kodachrome State Park

 

Sandstone in west Zion National Park

Sandstone in west Zion National Park

 

The Vortex

The Vortex

 

Close up of modern petroglyphs in the bottom of The Vortex

Close up of modern petroglyphs in the bottom of The Vortex.  Click for larger.

 

Eastern end of Long Canyon

Eastern end of Long Canyon

 

 

Design in standstone

Design in sandstone

 

Oak Leaf

Oak Leaf in Lick Wash

Go forward to Utah 2016, Part 4.

Go back to Utah 2016, Part 2.

 

 
 

Utah 2016, Part 2: Slot Canyons

05 Jun
Un-named slot canyon near Long Canyon.

Un-named slot canyon near Long Canyon.

A slot canyon is deeper than it is wide. They can be fun to photograph due to the light reflections. They are nice to explore in the middle  of a hot day, offering shade and cooler temperatures.  I hiked in several slot canyons on this trip.  Click on each photo for larger versions.

 

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Entrance to another unnamed slot canyon entering Long Canyon.

Entrance to another unnamed slot canyon joining Long Canyon.

 

This slot canyon has cottonwood trees growing near the entrance.

This slot canyon has cottonwood trees growing near the entrance.

 

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Willis Canyon

 

Willis Canyon

Willis Canyon

 

Looking straight up from the bottom of Willis Canyon

Looking straight up from the bottom of Willis Canyon.

It’s like being inside a giant mouth with molars.

Willis Canyon

Willis Canyon

 

Looking across the top of a slot canyon. You can almost jump across.

Looking across the top of a slot canyon. You can almost jump across.

 

Looking down into the slot canyon of Bull Valley Gorge.

Looking down into the slot canyon of Bull Valley Gorge.

 

 

Lick Wash

Lick Wash

Go forward to Utah 2016, Part 3.

Go back to Utah 2016, Part 1.

 
 

Utah 2016, Part 1

30 May

I recently spent about 10 days in southern Utah, both camping and staying with friends. I experienced all kinds of weather: hot, cold, wet and dry. Rather than present my trip as a travel log, I decided just to group certain photos together along with my thoughts. Click on any photo for a larger version.

 

Red Canyon

Red Canyon

For the most part, I hiked in areas less travelled. I had thought about going to Bryce Canyon National Park, but it happened to be on a weekend (not that a weekday would have made much difference), and the traffic leading into the park was heavy, so I turned around and headed for the dirt roads.

Being spring time and with the recent rains, many plants were blooming.

 

Yellow prickly pear cactus

Yellow prickly pear cactus.

 

Cactus with red flowers.

Claret cup cactus

 

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Evening primrose

 

This was probably blooming a million years ago. Fossilized plant material.

This was probably blooming a million years ago. Fossilized plant material.

 

Not exactly blooming, but pretty none the less.

Not exactly blooming, but pretty none the less. (Click for the larger version to see the detail.)

It always amazes me where plants choose to take root (probably not a conscious choice). There’s plenty of sand and dirt around for a plant to grow in, but perhaps these cracks have more moisture in them.

 

Growing in a crack in the canyon wall.

Utah fleabane growing in a crack in the canyon wall.

 

A shrub and a pine are sharing the same crack.

A single leaf ash and a pine are sharing the same crack.

 

Jack Rabbit

Jack Rabbit sniffing Scotch broom.

 

My friends George and Kristine as we explored Manganese Wash.

My friends George and Kristine as we explored Manganese Wash.

 

Go forward to Utah 2016, Part 2.

 

 
 

Mini-Moose

16 Apr
A couple of yearling moose

A couple of yearling moose

The UPS man drove up about the same time and said “those are some big dogs!”

Kneeling to graze

Kneeling to graze

 

Hopping the fence

Hopping the fence

The grass is always greener…

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Checking out the dog next door

Checking out the dog next door

 

Checking out the moose

Checking out the moose

 
 

Black Friday

28 Nov

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Black Friday represents so much of what is wrong with this country.  Nobody I know takes part in it.  It’s only existed for a dozen years.  I keep hoping it will die as a fad, but the media and the corporations won’t let it.  They wear maniacal grins while they rub their greedy palms together, leading consumers to think they’ll miss something important if they don’t go shopping.

(Click on photos for clearer versions.)

 

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Meanwhile, at least one company closed on Black Friday. R.E.I., which is a store that sells outdoor clothing and ski gear, encouraged people to get out into nature on Black Friday.  I was out in nature, but didn’t see anyone else.  But then most of R.E.I.’s customers are high end consumers who only want the appearance they’re into nature.

 

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It was a bright and sunny one degree Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius) day after a storm that had some freezing drizzle and ice fog.  I love these types of storms because of the interesting ice crystals that grow on the grass, twigs and branches.  In the above photo, contrary to what you might think, the crystals form on the side of the branch that faces into the wind.

 

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The silence was deafening.

 

Water

07 Aug
From the Continental Divide

From the Continental Divide

 

I sat on the jagged granite of the Continental Divide, up at 12,000 feet elevation, contemplating water.  The water in front of me, if left to it’s own devices, would end up in the Pacific Ocean.  The water in the lakes behind me would end up in the Atlantic Ocean.  If the water were to meet, it would be at the tip of South America.  I was struck by the thought that if I poured out the water in my bottle, it would be split to take long separate journeys, probably never to be joined again.

Actually the water from here probably will never make it to either ocean.  It will be consumed for human use either directly or as irrigation, or both. Then it will probably evaporate and end up in the atmosphere. But this morning, sitting on the divide, my focus was on the long journeys in the oceans.

I hiked down through the wilderness in an area I’ve never been before.  I discovered the old wreck of yet another aircraft.

 

Aircraft wing

Aircraft wing

 

I wasn’t surprised by it.  Lux had once told me there were two old wrecks in this part of the wilderness.  I had forgotten about it.   I visited the other wreck 4 years ago in 2011.  There wasn’t much left of this one.  The fuselage and engine had definitely been removed from the area.  The only thing left were parts of the wings and part of the tail.  If some entity went through the trouble of air-lifting the remains out of this wilderness, then why leave the wings behind?

These days, all of the wreckage is removed from the wilderness if a plane crashes.  Anything that had crashed prior to the 1980’s was left behind.  A lot of planes have crashed here due to the tall mountains and the strong downdrafts on the east side of the Divide that occur in winter. In every case, it was ultimately pilot error.

For the next 3 hours I continued down the valley, mostly trying to find a suitable route.  The valley is full of small lakes, ponds, marshes and granite cliffs.  As I mentioned, I have never hiked in this valley before and I wasn’t entirely sure there was a passable route down.  The trail I had hiked up runs up beside the valley and the backup plan was to take that down if I couldn’t find a way.

After having to double back up the valley a few times due to a long cliff I couldn’t get down, I finally found some soft soil with a bunch of deer and elk footprints imprinted in it, which hinted at the route to take.  Once I was down through the steepest area, I stopped beside the creek and put my hand in it.

 

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The ice cold effervescent water was as clear as glass.  Although it’s much further downstream, this is the same creek that supplies my town with it’s water.  And knowing the source of this water is up in the wilderness, makes me happy.

 
 
 
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