|It seems while the woods have been closed, the fish have been eating...|
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Posted by Paul at 10:37 pm
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Some time ago we visited the crash site of the "Marianas Mars" CF-LYJ water bomber near Moriarty Mountain on Vancouver Island. The "Marianas Mars" was one of four water bombers in service in the Vancouver Island region, each charged with putting out forest fires for Macmillan Bloedel. We had looked briefly at the site during a ride to Youbou in 2015, but time was short on this earlier ride and we left the site quickly without really giving it the time it deserved. Click here for details of that ride.
More recently, Dan F., one of our readers, fellow rider and associate of the local Nanaimo Historical Society, contacted us and invited us to a presentation by a past Mac Blo Administrator who has first hand knowledge of the crash and who was present during the extraction of wreckage during the aftermath of this tragedy.
His presentation was excellent. He included historical details of the four Mars bombers, and covered details of two major fires in our local area, one being the large fire on Mt. Moriarty where the Marianas came down. The plane had been in military service until 1956 and was eventually sold in 1959 and converted into a forest fire fighting aircraft (CF-LYJ) by Macmillan Bloedel. The plane crashed on June 23rd, 1961. It's believed that the water drop mechanism failed and the aircraft was unable to achieve the altitude necessary to clear the mountain. All four crew members on board perished. (Wikipedia reference).
This was a perfect ride to open the season and a great reason to begin posting blog entries once again. Paul and I decided to revisit the site and spend a little more time looking around. Let's get a look at the track for this ride. Here's an overview using Google Earth to fly over the route: (After you hit play, you'll see this better at full screen settings. Takes a few seconds for the view to settle down).
Here's the track viewed with Garmin Navigator (at 1000x speed):
1. We entered the logging roads from our usual Doumont/Biggs Rd. side. Neither of us have been through here for a while since Timberlands began their most recent war against riders entering the region. We were pretty interested in seeing how impregnable the "tank traps" area is to date.
2. Whaddaya know, you can get through! That's right, it needs patching up again guys! Get your finger out! ;) Quadders and bikers have bridged the newly dug traps and a route goes through to a location very close to the old "tank traps" exit. (I've been asked in the past not to reveal news of entrances into the area, but quite honestly there's no secret here. We're all using these common routes and the logging company is well aware when these major routes become compromised again. In fact, they must expect it to happen pretty much on schedule. It's nothing new: They patch it... We get through... They patch it... etc).
3. Turned N.W. onto Branch 142
4. Turned left traveling S.W. on 155 Main
5. Turned left onto 155N. This logging road entrance was recently gated. Access is possible by bike and likely by quad, although it's tight. You won't get a truck in there.
There are some pretty good views of the Strait of Georgia looking N.E. from high points of the road on 155N as it curves its way up towards the crash site.
We hit snow as we got a little higher towards the crash site. We were able to ride through it and managed to get right up next to the coordinates.
6. The crash site at N49° 10.996' W124° 22.996'. It's pretty easy to find. Park your bike on the logging road near the coords, and walk into the bush on the right side (A).
You can make out a clearing from the road where trees are thinned over an old logging road that runs at 90° to the road where you park.
You continue along this old remnant of a road for a couple of hundred yards and then enter the trees on the right side (B). Look for trees marked in blue paint.
Most are numbered and some appear to have the word "OUT" painted above a number. We were speculating on whether this number referred to a piece of wreckage or perhaps even human remains. Numbers appear to reach into the twenties. There are quite a few blue markers sprayed near the coords given above, although they continue as you proceed towards the N.W.
We stumbled upon an empty bear den half way along our short hike. Not the sort of thing you want to get too close to during the spring, but it appeared to be safely abandoned some time ago.
Eventually you reach a steep downward slope where there is old fire damage visible in the remaining stumps and roots. Pretty clear evidence of a fiery crash site is visible here (C). We both looked carefully for any sign of wreckage all through the track shown above, but found no metal at all. We looked in a few areas which appeared to be compressed from impact using a metal detecting probe, but found nothing metallic at all.
At location C we separated and Paul traveled down the slope in the hope of finding fragments that might have made it to the bottom, (at the fire site). Great idea, but unfortunately he didn't find anything there either. Kudos to the MacBlo cleanup crew! You guys removed every trace! It's a heavily treed area and it very likely gets deep annual coverage of needles, covering any small traces they might have been left. It's an interesting site to investigate nontheless; if you look carefully, the direction of travel can be seen by following broken stumps and old fractured and fallen trees from the fire location towards the blue marked trees at the coordinates.
7. We retraced our route and continued on towards Cottle Lake to see if the route was still blocked by gate. The gate was locked.
8. We looked at alternative ways of getting back through the tank traps, but had no luck. The route we followed, which we have referred to earlier as the "tank traps alternative route," ended at a dead end with no clearly visible path through. We then returned the same way we had entered the area.
9. ESB poured like rain at the Black Bear Pub!
Here's a quick look at the elevations on this route:
You can get a better look if you click on these pics.
The movie feature. Go get some popcorn:
Excellent ride! Big thanks to Dan for inviting us out to hear that presentation.
Track for this ride is available here, at wikiloc.com
*UPDATE: May 22nd, 2017*
YouTuber "Cars show Island" send us a link to the YouTube video "Marianas Mars The Dean Fire 1960 British Columbia" which shows excellent footage of the Marianas Mars in action over the Nicola Valley. He tells me it's the only known footage of this Mars water bomber.
Go give him a "like" if you get a minute:
As a side note, the Aviation Safety Network website list this crash location with a lower level of accuracy. (Possibly they desired it to be this way, but more likely they just found Moriarty Mountain on a map and pinned it). Their listed location is 7km out, so don't go there! ;)
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
|Room with a view - Sandpoint, Idaho.|
|Day 5 was a day of great motorcycle roads. The legendary #56 was fun - but look out for goats...moose...Click to Enlarge|
Shortly after leaving Hotsprings, the scenery started to change back to dry pine forest and hills. It was very picturesque, although it was evident there had been a fire here in the not too distant past. The road began to wind up and over the hills, following what must have been the path of least resistance when wagon trains came through here. This made for epic riding which was to continue until Bonners Ferry. Joining the #200, heading northwest towards Thompson Falls, the scenery continues to green up and is considered a scenic by-way, throwing vistas and corners together as one.
|Thompson Falls is a little town with all the amenities a 'cycler could need. Great views too...|
By the time we reached Noxon, just prior to turning off onto the much awaited #56 and heading north, it was scorching. Over 100F we pulled into a deserted lay-by - the Americans do such a good job of these - and took a rest.
|Nixon in Noxon. Another stop on the Clark Fork River, another watergate.|
Turning right onto the #56 from just after Noxon and riding to Troy was amazing. It was another...yes another... perfectly tarmacked, very lightly travelled (as in 2 cars and a truck) perfect ribbon of windy tarmack. Elevation, curves and scenery. Wildlife too. We had be warned about moose (much of the north eastern side of the highway in spots was perfect marsh woods for them), but not about mountain goats.
|They're only skittish if you stop, apparently Darwin's theory has left us with only road-safe goats...|
|In Bonners Ferry for a Beer and Bite.|
|Pend Orielle Lake (1150 feet deep!). There was a nice collection of racing sailing hardware moored here. Not bad for a lake. A lake where the US Navy tests subs, weapons and sonar...I kid you not.|
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Saturday, January 07, 2017
Going to the Sun Ride, Day Four: Glacier National Park -Lethbridge, AB, Chief Mountain Border Crossing to Lake McDonald Lodge
|Day 4 Click to Enlarge|
Leaving Lethbridge at sunrise, not much happens until you start to reach Cardston. Then, in the distance you start to see an amazing contrast: flat prairie backstopped by amazing snow covered peaks...
Through Cardston, the riding is fun now: there's a coolness in the air, the road starts to undulate, gently curving now: you're at a comfortable 110, and you've been here before. Your deja vu-addled brain starts to flip memories up like a Rolodex in your mind's-eye as you reel off the miles, trying to pull the recollection from that slow, syrupy quagmire of a mind you've developed lately. Then it hits you - superimposed on your visor, you're riding through that Windows XP desktop theme.
Taking the left from AB#5 onto AB#6 20km west of Mountainview, AB, you head south. Now you're in it. Scenery, everywhere. Empty vistas, empty roads, you pull past the only truck you've seen for hours, and the bike compresses nicely as you rock through the next sweeper and up, up up. Pulling over, to the west, you see the Waterton Lakes National Park that straddles the international border. Stunning. The roads here are beautifully surfaced too. Is this the old Albertan coffers? Canadian National Park service shillings? Or is it a "Welcome to Canukistan, my US red-necks, where roads are like magic-carpets, and taxes are good!"?
The first thing you notice in rock that gives the border crossing its name. Actually it's the second thing you notice. The first thing you notice are signs warning you of free-ranging cattle. And bingo: there they are - cows taking shade under overhanging branches or wandering along the verges of the road.
Close encounters of the bovine-kind have you thinking you're seeing Devils Tower from the movie. Equally as stunning as its Wyoming cousin, Chief Mountain has what we used to call Presence. Incongruous yet familiar, I have never seen anything like it. Deja-vu again.
All this scenery was making us hungry. So a smooth unwinding ride down to the village of St. Mary was where we found the diner, with requisite bikes parked outside that screamed "land of cheap goods and services."
Unfortunately, the Park Cafe was the antithesis of that. We stopped for a coffee and breakfast slice of pie. Iris ordered the tea, and kept her Dutch sagacity to herself as I let my stomach do the thinking. PIE! Huckleberry PIE!
Ordering the pie was easy. Finding the pie was another matter... It was two fingers wide at its largest breadth, and about as long. Height? They're Americans, I hear you cry: it must have been towering! Why I bet it was Chief Mountain tall?!! Nope. More like Beaver lodge height. Tiny. TINY. But what was huge was the bill. Hot tea, coffee, slivver of pie, one small hollow ball of iced-cream. $15.50 US;$23.85 CDN. The conversion rate I can stomach. But $10.50 US for a micro slice of pie and a dob of frozen milk? And you Republicans can't blame this on Obama-care: there's no tax! Let this be a warning to you: don't stop at the Park Cafe in St. Mary right before the Glacier National Park entrance...I shoulda known better!
Radiant in her magnificence; Saint Mary Lake isn't bad either.
Look at the size of 'em! Heads-up: mountain goats roam everywhere.
The roads are silken strips of gossamer wending their way through the picture-postcard alpine wilds. Nice to know my pie is funding something.
Stop often, lest you topple thousands of feet to your bike's doom and get a closer view of the valley floor than you required.
Above: The Continental Divide: much like a butterfly beating its wings in South America can cause a hurricane in the Caribbean, it is said that you can urinate from this rock and cause a Tsunami in Puget Sound.
Above and below: Ah, lines of symmetry, latus rectum and parabolas. This trip was educational too. (Yes, there is usage of rectum which isn't rude, Andy.)
Logan Pass is the continental divide. There are boardwalks, viewing platforms and free alpine air stops.
Above: Again, stop often, & keep yer eyes on the road...Get there early. Logan Pass, at the top, has lots of parking but will fill early. That's ok, you're on a bike. Plenty of places to stuff the bike.
Lots of folks ride both ways. Start early, the traffic gets noticeably heavier by mid afternoon. Most people seemed to be going east to west. I'm not sure if that was just this day, but it certainly seemed that the traffic was heavier in that direction when we stopped at any viewpoint.
Speed limit is 25mph in the alpine sections; 45mph below. Roads are narrow; rock falls are frequent; drivers are distracted.
I'm not sure why I had to pass at all, let alone on a double yellow. But as the afternoon thickened, there were lots of these Glacier Shuttles which tend to block the view if you get caught behind them (though, of course, my eyes were on the road...)
Coming down the other side, the eastern end of the Ride to the Sun Road, there was a river which was perfect for wading...Butterflies (painted lady? comma? fritillary?) would land and drink salt...
While this was a long day, it was an easy day. Easy on the eye, easy on the mood and easy on the body. So what better place to stop than the Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park and on the Go to the Sun Road? It's rhetorical...go there, you'll see what I mean. Reasonable too! And the views? As expected. Beautiful. The beer is good too!
The beach outside our cabin. A full blown T-storm blew in for 30 mins while we eased into the late afternoon which is typical this time of year. It was gone by beer o'clock.
As per the Man-Code: Some Cabin shots, just to convince your prospective pillion that it is really as I say...
Beer on the veranda...
The Lodge. You feel like you're in Switzerland...
All in all, that was a great, great day for a ride.
Day Five: Lake McDonald Lodge, MT to Sandpoint, ID,via Thompson Falls, MT, Troy, MT and Bonners Ferry, ID.
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