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    TERESA159   29,412
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Hiked to a B-17 Crash site in the Rockies today

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My husband (RANDY175) heard about this hike from his female barber and it sounded interesting but on the edge of our limits. 12 miles, tons of elevation gain (and losses, and regains), hard to find. We decide what the heck, it's the first day of the Fall 5% Challenge, let's challenge ourselves!

***If you find this disturbing in any way and don't want to read about us visiting a place where airmen died or see the many pictures in this blog, please go somewhere else now....***

The wreck was a training mission during WWII for the air force, night flying and they confused Fort Collins with Laramie, which is further north and pretty much past the mountains. So the plane was not where they thought they were. The story has it that someone on the plane thought they saw something go by the window so they turned on the landing lights and saw trees and the mountain ahead. Can you imagine? The pilot had just enough time to pull up the nose. Four crew members died but six managed to survive. Two of them hiked down and found some fishermen who drove them to the closest telephone at Vern's, which just happens to be a lunch place/country store we take a long bike ride to sometimes. The crash happened in June, 1944 during World War II. And the army for some reason, dynamited the crash 6 weeks later so the debris is even more strewn than is normal for an incredibly large plane flying very fast and hitting a mountain side in the middle of the night. It was cool to explore and we kept saying, how'd they survive THIS? There were silk roses left in places in memory of those who weren't as lucky.

This is me at our first pretty view spot. This hike is AMAZING in the views and I say that as a veteran Colorado hiker!

That's our trail heading up the next hill. It went up and down, up and down, through beautiful woods and over rocky terrain. When we turned off the first trail onto the one leading to the site area, we had to navigate by the cairns in spots.

An old shepherd's cabin about half way to the site.

The location is off a rarely used trail, this was our marker to the site.

About 100 yards off the trail we started coming across stuff. Mostly pieces of torn up aluminum and rubber and rusty stuff and lots of glass. Then, bigger pieces and then some real huge piles of stuff. Keep in mind it's been out there for 67 years and was dynamited. This is one of the engines.

Randy was thrilled to be able to identify this as a radio. (It's a federal offense to remove anything but that didn't stop us from trying to identify some of the stuff we came across. We just put it right back.)

One of the five or six bigger sections of debris. It was amazing how much was still here and how spread out it was.

This piece of what we think was a wing is one of the few that gave any clue as to the fact that this was an US Air Force plane.

Wings? and stuff.

This gave us pause. Everything else there was so militaryish, all airplane ruble and equipment. This toolbox made us really think of the men.

I did some research once we got back home and seems there were three B17 crashes in our county between 1943 and 1944. Also seems there were a heck of a lot of casualties from training. One of the other crash sites is eerily close to this one. I read that the survivors of this crash had a reunion later but there weren't many details. So glad we did this hike. Was great exercise and got us thinking about WWII and U.S. history and how sometimes things just don't go right.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
REYVE01 9/27/2011 9:14PM

    Wow... That is such a cool piece of history.... I want to explore that hike. Glad you and Randy pushed each other.. maybe it's time for a 14er... I want to try next summer...

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    Pretty pathetic I have lived her my whole life and never even knew about this! I hope to maybe check it out once the boys get big enough to hike on their own!

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SVELTEWARRIOR 9/26/2011 9:20PM

    Awesome hike!! Love the history and pictures, thank you for sharing.

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LOTUSBURGER 9/26/2011 4:54PM

    What an interesting hike.
Amazing story.

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EJOY-EVELYN 9/25/2011 11:12PM

    Great blog with beautiful walk and scenery. Thanks for sharing. Wow . . . that was like walking a half marathon (perhaps even more with all the elevations). Thanks for helping us ROCK our first day of fitness miles on our challenge. We're really getting close to landing, now.

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ZIPCONTROL 9/25/2011 10:57PM

  OMG !! This is mind-blowing stuff . I would love to do that hike one day !

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THETURTLEBEAR 9/25/2011 10:09PM

    That's amazing that some survived. Also really amazing that no one has taken that stuff, despite the federal offense. People can be so dense, so it's heartening to see that. They have a WWII downed B-24 Liberator on Trail Peak at Philmont (that place I go in NM). The big joke is (for guys) that you climb up on the wing and take a whiz and then say you took a leak off the wing of a plane at 10,000 feet.

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IMIN2GENES 9/25/2011 8:04PM

    You are so lucky to have so many beautiful places to hike! What an adventure. Thanks for sharing it.

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LISAINMS 9/25/2011 6:26PM

    You have so many amazing trails to hike! What an interesting experience.

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KOFFEENUT 9/25/2011 12:11PM

    Thanks for sharing the details and photos about this hike - I had no idea about the crashes during WWII, and you've given me something to do more exploring on!

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MCLAFLIN 9/25/2011 11:56AM

    Just when I had a cool hike, and you upstage me! Really, I love your hiking blogs. I love history, and this was uber interesting to me!

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NEWMAC2011 9/25/2011 10:29AM

    It's great to see so many Teddies getting the Fall 5% off to a great start! The hike sounds wonderful & challenging. Is this how you burn 1,000 calories at a time?

Loved the photos. It's sad how so many have lost their lives to defend our country, but even more tragic when it's a training mission gone bad.

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ASL191 9/25/2011 7:00AM

    What a day!

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SEPTLEFTY 9/25/2011 1:28AM

  Just beautiful.

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