Monday, June 21, 2010

Solo Mission

A few years ago I heard about a crash site of a B-24 Liberator located above the Flying W Ranch on or near Lone Pine mountain. The plane crashed into the mountainside at night on April 26, 1944. There were seven casualties. Last year, my friend Scott and some of his riding buddies searched for and eventually found a pretty decent route to the wreckage. It wasn't easy but they were determined to get there by mountain bike.
After having several conversations about it with Scott, I decided to find a route from my house through the Blodgett Open Space and West into the Pike National Forest where I would intersect the trail that Scott and his buddies found. It took me three tries but last Saturday I finally had success.
After about 35 minutes of pedaling, I had to hike-a-bike it for around 90 minutes to get to the ridge.

This was my first self-portrait on the high ridge (9000') above my house which I could see for most of the adventure. I was never more than 5 miles from home yet it felt like I could be lost and never found in that forest.

Someone built this pretty cool shelter and there was a good campsite a few yards away with a nice view and a firepit.

This huge rock cliff can be seen quite plainly from my house which is somewhere behind me in this pic.

Spectacular views in every direction. Two steps in front of me is a couple hundred foot drop to oblivion.

After much more navigating along the ridge, I found a sweet single-track which was originally built by General Palmer. I followed the trail and it started to drop steeply down the mountain-side. That's where I started seeing pieces of metal. Those pieces used to be a plane that looked like the above picture.

This is one of the bigger pieces. I think it's part of the landing gear. There was bits of wreckage strewn all over the mountain-side. Also, there was a lot of blobs of previously molten aluminum. This plane went down in a snow storm and it was hard to imagine the amount of heat that was generated to melt the aluminum.

After a snack and more wreckage exploration, I headed towards the reclaimed mining scar above Queens Canyon and plainly visible from most everywhere in Colorado Springs. Once again...I can see my house!

This was a pretty scary and loose section of trail on the way to the scar. One slip and it would be time for search and rescue to find my body.

More sweet single-track and not so sweet hike-a-bike led me to the tip-top of the scar. Guess who's house that is in the background?

Awsome view.

This one doesn't eat sugar cubes but he did have a go at my wedding ring. I saw a herd of the real things literally run down a cliff after being startled by some creature with wheels for legs. It was one of the coolest and most memorable things that I have seen in nature. And it was five miles from my house!

Here's an over-view of my route. It was a meager 15 miles and a healthy 4000' elevation gain. Total time in the great outdoors: almost 5-1/2 hours. Most of that was spent navigating and having near death experiences (just kidding, Dad). 

On the way home, I was riding up a busy 4-lane street and a 250 lb. black bear tried to cross in front of me. He got spooked and turned around so I followed him for a while. I was in the forest all day and don't see a bear until I am 6 blocks from home. Crazy.

And to think I didn't even want to ride when I got up that morning.

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