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From: (Ron Miller)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Trip Report: NeverSummers CO  F-100 Site
Date: 12 Aug 1996 22:36:21 GMT


By: Ron Miller,

Note: Permission  granted to Mike Dallin to make this  available  on the
      Rocky Mountain National Park Webpage he keeps.  Permission granted
      to print or file this report for individual  not-for-profit use so
      long  as the  entire  file is kept  together.

The Goal: Reach, record GPS coordinates of, and photograph the remaining
          wreckage of an F-100C Super Sabre fighter jet crash near
          Mt. Cirrus in the Never Summer range of mountains in N. Colo. 

The Site: On 30 Jan. 1967, 2nd Lt. Eldon C. Hart was lost while on a 
          routine training mission. The accident report described
          Lt. Hart as having gone into cloud and losing control while
          executing a barrel roll around the lead aircraft to bleed off
          overtake velocity. He did not eject and the aircraft was not
          found for months.

          Civil Air Patrol listed the wreck at one location, Bill Boyd,
          whose report about the Never Summers appears in the Rocky Mtn
          Nat'l Park webpage, reported a slightly different location 
          though he didn't know at the time what he was looking at. 

          My researcher/historian friends in Estes Park had a site report
          from a fellow who had visited the site in 1967.

The Plan: Make a 2 day backpack trip out of it with my buddy Thomas.

Preliminaries: Thomas couldn't go. So I packed for a solo effort (meaning
          that I added the weight of my 2m ham radio and a revolver and
          carried my one-man tent).

Friday 8/2/96- 

0825 Rolling from south Ft. Collins.

1040 Turnoff from Colo. Hwy 14 at Gould onto USFS roads. (83 miles from home)

1115 After 3 miles of 4WD LO reach Teller City ghost town site. 
     There was a sign at the entrance warning that it would be closed to
     vehicle traffic and camping someday. Neither of the USFS people in
     the area knew anything about it. 

1225 To Baker Pass trailhead up at the head of Jack Creek Wilderness
     boundary. Cloudy in the area, it starts raining and hailing before I
     shut down. 6.4 miles of 4WD LO from Teller City, 4 hrs from home.

1300 Hiking. Two people climb off an ATV at the trailhead and hike too.
     From Iowa, they spend 1 week per summer here. We shelter in some trees
     and talk as more hail blows thru. Turns out that they'd been to 
     the wreck a few years ago. Couldn't put it on the map though. 

1430 Blue skies, I move along down the old 4WD road to Baker Pass. 
     The road goes over the ridge and down to an old mica mine. Apparently
     the two rock outcrops here in the lush meadow were worth digging.
     No structures remain. I head north along the cairned trail. Skirting
     the rock glacier, it goes into the trees and beelines north. 
     This territory is spectacular. Rocky peaks dropping bright rocks in
     waves and falls right down onto green grassy meadows. Rock glaciers.
     Tall peaks, deep green valleys with meandering rivers.... ahhhhhh.

1500 I overtake a solo backpacker on the trail who had come up from RMNP via
     Baker Gulch. He looks wasted and is tired of being hailed on. (The climb
     is significant for him. He's surprised that I parked about 1 mile from
     there.) He is doing some sort of loop from Baker Gulch, north then 
     return. Gotta look at the map to figure it out for myself.
     I leave him and go on. Briefly stop to put some moleskin on my
     heels then I proceed. Cross a very large talus slope.

1530 Nearing area for camp. The valley wall sides are timbered and steep.
     I dump my pack and try to find something campable. It takes an hour
     to determine that I've done about as well as available.  

1700 Skeeters aplenty. The humidity is high, the bugs hungry, the sky overcast
     with storms in various directions. This depresses me somewhat.
     I setup camp, such as it is. I put my one-man tent across the roots of
     a tree - the only level ground. Fortunately the holes make decent 
     hipholes and it's reasonably comfortable. 

1820 I take a 1/2 mile hike along the trail to the north. I consider how 
     to climb Mt. Cirrus or whether I should go to the saddle first. Undecided,
     I head back toward camp and have some ramen for dinner. The skeeters
     seem to want to die in my dinner.  The first couple of days solo are
     always a bit difficult around dinnertime.

1920  Big storms wander the area. A large bolt seems to blast the area where
     my jeep is parked. Wouldn't that be the pits?

1950 Into the tent after securing everything for heavy weather. I leave the
     final flap open to watch the lightning on the distant ridges and 
     write off the possibility of seeing the Perseid meteor showers.

2100 Dozing around the rumbles, dark.

2400 Finally a big blast of wind rattling the tent like someone trying to
     shake me out of there. Then some hail and rain.

     There are 3 separate rockfalls off the ridge during the night. One
     lasts a very long time. Briefly I wonder if it can go far enough to get
     me.  It doesn't - this time.

Saturday 8/3/96- 
0530  Awake and lightly dozing. 

0615 Out of the tent into the gray of dawn. Since I'm on the west side,
     it'll be gray for quite awhile. Clouds and moisture indicated in the
     skies. Doesn't look good.

0730 Fed, packed, and moving for the daytrip. I head north and decide to go 
     to the saddle  between Mt. Cirrus and the big 'tooth' on the ridge
     directly west. It's a steep, grassy rascal and takes a bunch of 
     zigzagging to achieve.

0900 What airplane parts? None. Anywhere. But there are cairns, huge
     cairns down in the cirque on the far side. Can't see why. Two
     pretty lakes must be the ones in Bill Boyd's trip report.
     Well, what now?  Climb Mt. Cirrus, of course.

1030 After getting tired of endless rocks, the rock size turned to 
     chips, the summit rounds off and here's the top. Summit cairn but
     no register. I take pictures all around and admire the rugged view.
     The Never Summers really are *rotten* rock. The ridges connecting
     peaks are ugly jagged messes. Hiking the true Divide would be 
     tough. The view of Lake of the Clouds in RMNP is neat. I mentally
     place the Nokhu Crags in position and enjoy the view.  

     So where're the airplane parts?  I try to match the xeroxed photos
     to any of the ridge profiles I can see. Not this mountain, not
     directly north or south. Only thing close is the extension of the
     ridge beyond the 'tooth' and around the corner. I am deflated. 
     That's a pretty good long ways from here. And I can't reasonably
     conserve elevation. 

     I leave the summit angling southwest toward grass slopes I know
     I can descend and planning to cross a circled X on the map placed
     there by someone who visited the site nearly 30 years ago.

     That X doesn't match the photo and doesn't have any airplane parts.
     I trudge on. Sometimes I can scree-slide but mostly I downclimb on
     grass. It was a long way above the trail.

1200 I regain the trail about 300 yds from camp. Back to the north we go.  

1225 I sight a chunk of aluminum all of about 15 minutes from where I'd
     turned around last night. I look up to the ridge. THERE!  It's
     all over the place up there! A steep, dark rockslide decorated with
     shiny bits. As I get closer to the last trees at the base of the
     cirque, I find a whole elevator assembly standing leaning against
     a tree. Yup, this is the place. 

     I drop my pack,  take a GPS fix (13T  0422126,4476509),  sling  the
     camera and commence to exploring  the site.  I go from big piece to
     big piece taking pictures and going up the slide.  The bits are all
     the way up to higher than I care to climb (nearly the ridge crest).
     I ease  north and start  down  again.  I found the 20mm gun a rusty
     mess  with a bent  barrel.  I found  the ammo  ballast,  main  gear
     struts, nose strut, the radio,  engine  core, other  elevator,  the
     rudder with its Air National  Guard paint  intact, a 2 foot stretch
     of canopy rail, the radio, the airplane  drogue chute (not  pilot's
     chute),  hunks of tubing,  hanks of wire, a wheel with tire mounted
     to it,  twisted  scraps of  hand-sized  aluminum by the dozens, etc

     What a pretty place to crash. Lt Hart surely was vaporized instantly.
     I've been very fortunate today. The weather holds drier than yesterday.
     No significant clouds interfering  or causing me to worry about
     maybe packing up and going home tonite.

1400 I head back toward camp. I feel like heading home today although
     I'm pretty weary from climbing Cirrus unnecessarily. Unnecessarily-
     not really. I said I wanted to climb it while I was in the area 
     anyway. The views were terrific, the pictures should be good, the
     orientation I got from the terrain is worthwhile. 

1430 I am back at camp.  A short  squall blows in with hail.  I cover up
     with the  poncho, put a ground pad under my butt and sit up against
     a stump  until it  passes.  I take off my boots - oboy.  Big  nasty
     blister  on the R  heel.  Hardly  felt  it.  I root  thru  my  pack
     looking for the 2nd Skin.  Can't find it.  I'm SURE I packed it.  I
     even changed the AAA battery in the  mini-lite  that rides with the
     misc emergency stuff in the baggie.  But I can't find it.

    I smear on some anti-biotic and make do with more moleskin.
     (Note- It was there, just mashed to one side. I found it at home.)

    Then I pack.

1530 As I am nearing departure, two hikers emerge from the trees about 
    100 yds away heading  uphill. They get to timberline, drop their packs
    and hoot and holler at the views. I quietly finish packing. Last 
    item is to go to the creek and pump 2 qts of water for the trip.
    I am dry from the morning's hiking so 1 qt wouldn't do it.

    I am pumping water when one of them comes over to me. I know him!!!
    It's Shane from work!  He and his buddy came uphill from the Michigan
    River and are going to spend 2 more days in the area. 
    I describe the terrain seen from Mt. Cirrus and explain my mission. 
    They were there to hike and fish. (good fishing way down there in
    the river). 

    They talk about getting to Lake Agnes far to the north then cross-country 
    back to the truck down in the Michigan R drainage. I shake my head
    at the ambition.

1600 I head out. It's not very far but there is some gain to be done from
    the pass to the crest between there and trailhead. I turn and look back
    frequently to find that I can pick out the rockslide where the plane is.
    It's dark rock with sparkly bits in it. 
    I move slowly with fatigue. Thru the shady woods, to the rock glacier
    it's fairly level. Then from the rock glacier it's uphill to the 
    pass. 10 steps, rest 10, 10 steps, rest 10. Man, I'm tired. While this
    is pretty, I'm too tired to appreciate it. 10, 10 , 10, 10, 10 , 20 ,
    10 (20 is too much), 10.  Finally, the pass. 
    Now there is a strong S wind blowing. Get out the fleece. Find the 
    road/trail near the mines, follow it as it climbs. 10, 10, 10, 10.
    Onward. Endlessly. 

    I crest the hill. Downhill from here. What a view!  The whole set of
    valleys in westerly sunshine. The crash site is crystal clearly visible
    as sparkly bits on a dark patch 2.5 miles away. Woof, I'm tired.
    Down to the wilderness boundary sign. I drop my pack and get the camera.
    Several photos of the valley, being sure to include the sparkly slide.


1810 There's the car. 2 vehicles at the trailhead now. A full sized 4WD
     pickup and an import pickup with a guy apparently cooking his dinner
     on a Coleman stove.

     I doff the boots, change my t-shirt, swill some water, sort out some
     food to eat on the way home and prepare to depart.  

1830 Started up and heading home.

     I am fatigued to the point of the chill/sweat/shiver routine in the
     car. I'd forgotten to guard against that. Eat, drink, don't get out
     of the car or you'll go into deep shivers. 

2145 Home. Safe. Shivering. Cheated death again. Mission Accomplished.

Ron Miller
Ft. Collins

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