Sunday, November 28, 2010

B17 Bomber Site

A hike to history. Big history that could also be explored. Almost exactly 67 years ago (October 18, 1943) a B-17 from the Lowry Air force Base crashed on Stormy Peaks. A night training mission that was never completed, started in Rapid City S.D., and stopped when the plane was unable to clear the 12,148 summit. It took two days to carry the eight bodies down from the mountain. Left behind were the remains of the plane that many have made their way to explore.

As I strolled along the crash site I looked at the different metal parts, wondering where on the plane it once was. Parts of the engine, wheels and body of the plane could be identified. My curiosity had me wondering what these eight men were talking about. Maybe the holiday season, and if they would get to go home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, maybe even both. Maybe some had young kids and were sharing funny stories.

Finding the hike is not exactly clear cut. My Uncle, even with his topographical map, my mom with detailed directions, and both with an impeccable sense of direction had us a little astray…however we did take some detours trying to arrive to “gate check” sooner. I would suggest following directions to a T, even if you think you can hook up with trail the way mountain men do.

The hike is about 5 miles each way. There are no signs pointing to the B17 crash site. Start at the Pingree Park campus at the Stormy Peaks Trailhead, follow the signs to Twin Lakes and then follow the stone arrows. How nice of someone to set up the stone arrows, and how rude of my uncle to switch them to point the other way! Jokes jokes…seriously. Trust the arrows. And trust me, that this will be one the most unforgettable hikes you will ever take.

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