GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29/17)

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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mjirving
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GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29/17)

Post by mjirving » September 29th, 2017, 10:53 pm

Hike 25 - Mississippi Head Traverse - Mt Hood
“Visiting the B-26 bomber crash site” 

7/29/17

Miles: 14.1
Time: 8 hrs, 40 min
Avg MPH: 1.6
Elev Min: 4,700’
Elev Max: 8,500’
Total Ascent: 4,270’
Steps: 36,400
Flights of Stairs: 410
Time Up: 3:30am
Start Hike: 5:25am
Temp Low: 50
Temp High: 70
Thru-hikers: 11
Other hikers: ~100
Longest time without seeing a hiker: ~ 2hours
Wildlife: None noted
Chips: N/A
Via: 5
Nips: 3
Declines: 3

Timberline Lodge * Palmer Glacier * Zigzag Glacier * Illumination Rock * Reid Glacier * Mississippi Head * B26 Plane Crash * Timberline Trail

Opening Shot: Palmer Glacier on Mt Hood
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I was up early at 3:30am to head up to Mt Hood again.  I started my hike at 5:30am from the parking lot headed up the “climber’s route” on the right side of the Timberline Ski Area boundary.  I’ve actually ironically never been up the climber’s route even though I’ve climbed the mountain twice.  I’ve always just gone straight up the ski runs as it’s been in the middle of the night with an alpine start. (Technically that’s not allowed, so don’t follow my poor prior example.)

As I climbed the ridge line I enjoyed the dawn of a new day looking up at the top of Mt Hood,
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and back behind me to Mt Jefferson and Trillium Lake down past the lodge.
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I was right on the edge of the White River Glacier that I was on the other side of a couple weeks ago on another hike. You can see some of the crevasses in the snow.
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The sun was now fully up and shining over the White River Glacier.
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It took me about 2 hours to get up to the top of the Palmer Glacier at 7:30am just as the summer ski camps were setting up for the day to do race training. It brought back my own memories of training here for two summers way back when I raced for my high school ski team. Those were some fun times up here in the summer with kids from all over the country coming here to ski in the summer.
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I passed under the Palmer chair and back into my world of solitude on the Zigzag Glacier.
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The snow was spacious as I continued my traverse below the summit and Illumination Rock.
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Then Mt St Helens came into view,
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as I made my way gingerly over the steeper slopes to the edge of the Reid Glacier as I looked up.
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Across was the very pretty and meadowed Yocum Ridge.  I somehow thought there might be a way to get across to it, but that was a clear “no way” once I got to the edge. Mt Adams has now also come into view in addition to St Helens. I camped over there last summer on Yocum Ridge and it was spectacular.

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With clearly no way over, I backtracked over toward Mississippi Head which I had passed below me. Above was more gorgeousness to the summit.
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I met two other hikers right at Mississippi Head and got a picture at the point looking down over the Zigzag River below.
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We had both heard about the crash of a B-26 Bomber up here way back in 1949 that claimed three lives.  The three of us dropped down onto the plateau to find it.  It was right on the point of the plataeu at the top of the cliff where we were.  It was amazing to see one of the props still reasonably intact almost 70 years after it had happened.  I found several other plane parts up there in the same area, but most were too small to be very definable, unlike the prop.
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Here is a picture of a B-26 Bomber for perspective.
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As I hiked back up off the plateau I took a picture back of the two hikers I met at the point where the cliff drops off. You can see the plane propeller just to the right of center and down a bit from center in this picture.

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I headed back to the ridge line of the Reid Glacier which are the headwaters of the Sandy River. I saw Mt Jefferson peeking around the corner.
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This is looking up and back over toward the Reid Glacier and Yocum Ridge.
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The random waterfalls were fun to see too.
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As I got lower I saw some side waterfalls in the Zigzag Canyon with Yocum Ridge behind it in green.
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Very quickly the desolate high-mountain turned into greenery and flowers as I transitioned and connected down to the Timberline Trail. It had taken me an hour to get down from Mississippi Head and it was 11am.
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The hike transitioned very quickly from solitude alpine to crowded trail.  I quickly met One Speed who thru-hiked the PCT last year and Cooper from Idaho, who had heard of me and my trail magic.
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Next was Bumpers and Pocahontas and Timbur, all from Seattle,
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with some Glacier Lily in the area.
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Here is a wide shot, hopefully it kind of portrays how abundant they were.
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Then I arrived at the junction to the Paradise Park Trail that I hiked up in May in a snow storm with several feet of snow.  It sure looks different today!
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This is generally the same picture back in May.
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In this picture back in May we were standing on the Timberline Trail right were I was here today.
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This is what it looked like now. (The sign was under the snow)
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This was where we turned around in May due to very steep side-trail in the snow with risk of avalanche.
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Old Bum was next from Texas,
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followed by Sparkle Motion from Bend and Bull Frog from New York.
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The tree-fall in this area was CRAZY with about 20 trees over the trail. What took me back was that the trees were big and healthy looking. That must have been quite a storm! When I hiked up the Paradise Park Trail in the snow there were trees like pick-up-sticks. We couldn’t believe we were actually on-trail. It’s amazing to see the damage with no snow.
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Then I met Outlaw from Denver,
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and more blowdown to cross.
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I made it down to the bottom of the Zigzag Canyon and crossed its namesake river. I think that waterfall back there upstream may be the one that the two girls fell off and died this summer as they were camping somewhere above it and must have gotten cliffed-out when exploring and fell. A sad story.
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As I climbed out of the canyon I could start to see my path from earlier in the day. This is looking up Zigzag Canyon to Mississippi Head which is that tall cliff structure that is kind of in a “V” shape. The plane crash that I went by was just on the top edge of the center of the “V”.
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Rogue from Anaheim was next up,
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with an even better view up to Mississippi Head.
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My last PCT thru-hikers of the day were Pumbaa and Michelle from Arizona. I couldn’t believe the number of PCT hikers I met in such a short time. It started me worrying a bit about being able to bring enough trail magic for my big PCT section hike in Northern Washington coming up.
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On the homestretch I went through Little Zigzag Canyon,
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and made it back to the PCT sign,
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at Timberline Lodge.
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What a gem we have here for us, I love this place.
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Favorite experience of the day:
Finding the B-26 plane wreckage on the amazing Mississippi Head.

Least favorite experience of the day:
Navigating the blowdown trees (although they were pretty darn impressive!)

Today's route (counter-clockwise): Starting in the lower right corner
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Today's elevation:
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Google Earth: With the faint purple line as my track
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Short Video Clip up High on the Mountain
https://vimeo.com/236190018

GPS Track:
https://www.gaiagps.com/public/qy7I9VLmfXHkeQBy0j8l48YM

-GoalTech (aka Mike)
www.GoalTechHikes.com
@goaltechhikes (Instagram)

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retired jerry
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by retired jerry » September 30th, 2017, 5:19 am

nice report, thanks

a couple years ago I went half way from Paradise, I have to do the whole loop some time

was it easy finding the route down from Mississippi Head too the upper reaches of Paradise Park? It seems like that might be difficult.

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by mjirving » September 30th, 2017, 6:26 am

Thanks Jerry, it’d be nice to bump into you some day up there on Hood somewhere. It was pretty easy to find the trail. I just followed the ridge all the way down and cut over to the down-trail of the Paradise Park Trail Loop at the bottom. The hardest part (which wasn’t really hard) was that last bit as the greenery made it just a tad trickier than the open alpine areas.

Mike

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retired jerry
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by retired jerry » September 30th, 2017, 6:35 am

I always enjoy running into internet people on the mountain

It seems like that first bit getting off Mississippi Head would be difficult. Risk of falling off a cliff. When I went up it seemed important to remember my exact route so I could get back :)

Those trees across PCT are crazy. And a mile below on the Paradise Park trail. Must have been a crazy wind storm.

I too went up there in the spring when it was all snowy, and just recently, the contrast is amazing.

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by mjirving » September 30th, 2017, 6:52 am

At the risk of making it sound too easy, it was pretty easy. The transition was a cake walk. It’s not what you’re thinking it is. The whole loop was not technically challenging at all (on the route I took). My foray over to The edge of Reid was a tad sketchy but that was off-loop.

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kepPNW
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by kepPNW » September 30th, 2017, 6:58 am

mjirving wrote:Here is a picture of a B-26 Bomber for perspective.
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Hmmm, but that one has four blades per propeller... As do nearly all the ones I see in Google Image search... And yet...
  • Image
    Pretty clearly just 3 blades here!
Whassup with that?
mjirving wrote:At the risk of making it sound too easy, it was pretty easy. The transition was a cake walk. It’s not what you’re thinking it is.
Agreed. Very easy getting back down to Paradise from up there, unless you need to deal with still-steep and sun-warmed snowfields on the way down.
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

(Photos · PortlandHikers)

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retired jerry
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by retired jerry » September 30th, 2017, 7:41 am

okay, maybe I just psyched myself out :)

sometimes something can look difficult but when you get on it it's not that bad

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Chip Down
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by Chip Down » September 30th, 2017, 9:41 am

Across was the very pretty and meadowed Yocum Ridge. I somehow thought there might be a way to get across to it, but that was a clear “no way” once I got to the edge.
I bet it can be done. Might require the perfect snow conditions though. And I bet it would involve a lot of up/down/up/down, as well as left/right/left/right. I have no doubt it would be more difficult and draining than climbing to the summit. Which is the main reason I've never tried it (I'm lazy and cowardly ;) ).

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by mjirving » September 30th, 2017, 10:07 am

Yeah, if you’re not doing it Chip Down then there’s no way I’m doing it. The value:cost isn’t high enough for me. :-)

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mississippi Head Traverse: B26 Plane (7/29

Post by mjirving » September 30th, 2017, 10:22 am

Interesting about the 3-bladed prop! I thought maybe the blades were bent to make it appear as though it were 3-bladed, but I zoomed in and the hub appeared to in-fact be for 3 blades. I read on the internet on a WWII aircraft forum that 4-bladed props were in short supply, but I assume that was in the war and that in '49 that wouldn't have been an issue. So maybe some planes were fitted with 3-blades due to that? Ironically, they said that the early versions of the 4-blades in short supply weren't dialed in yet and caused unreliability issues that led to B26 crashes.

Mike

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