Sunday, October 2, 2011

Climbing Up to the WWII B-17 Crash Site

Aspen frame the mummy in the Mummy Range
It was another in a string of absolutely beautiful Colorado blue sky days, and Nancy, Linda, Charley and I headed up to Pingree Park.  The aspen were in high color, and illuminated the hillsides up to timberline.  Our plan was to head up the Stormy Peak Trail to see the remains of a B-17 that crashed into the mountain 58 years ago.  The aspen along the trail up the mountain were beautiful.

As we climbed, the weather got a bit dicey, with an unpredicted thundershower hovering over the top of Stormy Peak.  But eventually, after climbing 1200 feet in 3 miles, to an elevation of 10,250 feet, we came out into a boulder field and saw the pieces of plane wreckage.  Miraculously, the clouds cleared as we entered the clearing and the sun came out, illuminating the pieces of wreckage strewn across the mountainside.

The history is that on October 18, 1943, a B-17 bomber from Lowry Air Force Base in Denver slammed into the side of Stormy Peak at 10:45 in the evening.  It started a forest fire that spread into Rocky Mountain National Park.  It took two days to evacuate the bodies of the 8 airmen from this remote site.  Fairly large pieces of the wreckage remain.
A piece of the plane's tail section

A strut

One of the four engines

Another of the engines
 It was a very interesting hike.  It took us about four hours, including a short stop for lunch.  We again enjoyed the color along the trail on the way down.  

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