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#7059 - 09/02/10 08:16 PM Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
My partner and I hiked back to the wreck of the Gambler's Special on Wednesday. It is the wreck site of flight 708, a DC-3 that crashed near Mt Whitney in 1969. An Air Force helo also crashed there during the recovery efforts. Several other CAP aircraft crashed during the long search and more lives were lost. It has been day hiked a few times that I know of, but that canyon gets very few vistors.

We brought overnight gear with us and spent the night at the tarn near where the recovery helo crashed. That canyon is one of the most beautiful places on earth and well worth the two years of work it took to get back there.

We took seven hours to get in with no real concern for time. We only needed to set up camp in the daylight so we tried to enjoy the hike as much as possible, considering how incredibly difficult it is. It is ALWAYS up. Always. Elevation gain runs from 1200-1800 feet per mile. The terrain is rough 95% of the time.

We set up camp near the tarn and took a nap. The 1st wreckage we saw was a piece of rotor blade in the water near our camp site. The helo is slowly making its way downhill.

My partner took a swim in the tarn, we had some hot food and decided to explore some. The original plan had us exploring both wreck sites in the morning and then leaving after lunch. We were both feeling so good after the short nap we decided to check out the helo and "maybe" the DC-3. We left with some water, gloves, camera and a register we brought for the site. I placed a pic of the DC-3 with the names of those lost on the back in a waterproof container.

We followed the helo trail uphill until we could find nothing else. Two minutes later we saw the first piece of the DC-3 and followed the trail. We ended up in a few places that I did not feel safe in. A boulder the size of a small car moved when I walked on it. Luckily it didn't fall. All of the rocks in this area are very loose and most are big. We went as high as I felt was safe considering the time of day and made our way back following the pieces.

At one point I set my camera down and it slide into the rocks. It had all of the route pics, helo pics and 90% of the DC-3 pics on it. To make it worse we brought no headlamp and I feared we were losing daylight. We spent 15 minutes moving rocks and searching. Finally, nearly 3-4 feet down below foot level I spotted it and was just barely able to pull it out. I was a lot more careful with the wrist strap after that.

We finished up at the site and headed down, which because we didn't have enough daylight to backtrack we had a short section of some class three down climbing.

We slowly made our way back to our camp and started cooking dinner. My Jet Boil stove, which has made many trips with me and is kept spotlessly clean, somehow caught fire. I was able to secure the fuel valve and there was no damage. After double checking it we used it the rest of the trip without further problems. While cleaning up from dinner we found a spent .22 shell laying on the ground. A search via headlamp and again in the morning reveled no more. No idea why it would be by that pristine tarn - it wasn't drunk rednecks, that's for sure.

I slept good that night under perfectly clear skies, but my partner had problems with altitude. At first light we packed up and headed down. The route is harder to follow downhill and we got off of it several times. Actually, we would be off the route we took in over 75% of the time on the way down. Getting back to the truck in just over four hours was a great feeling, because making it out safe is my number one goal every time.

We took several hundred pics over the day and half and I will post some to my Flickr page shortly. There are many that I don't wish to post publicly and I will password protect those.

We were very respectful of both sites and made sure everything was left where we found it. We of course took nothing.

I'll admit, I was drawn to this site mainly because of the difficulty of reaching it, but I am humbled to be able to stand there and to have a moment of silence at the site. Even with the wrecks of two aircraft in that canyon, it is by far the best place I have ever hiked to......................................DUG

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#7060 - 09/02/10 08:35 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Gives me the willies just reading the crash roster....too many 'ghosts'
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#7061 - 09/02/10 08:41 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Bee]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: Bee
Gives me the willies just reading the crash roster....too many 'ghosts'


We didn't camp at the wreck. Our camp site was 15 minutes away from the DC3................................DUG

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#7062 - 09/02/10 08:44 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks for the report, DUG. Good to hear it went well.

May they all rest in peace.

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#7063 - 09/02/10 09:52 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: DUG
Originally Posted By: Bee
Gives me the willies just reading the crash roster....too many 'ghosts'


We didn't camp at the wreck. Our camp site was 15 minutes away from the DC3................................DUG


That would be much better.

I might be mistaken, but I think that I recalled seeing a copy of the original news article & other information about this area in Bob R's archives. I just looked for it a bit ago, and could not find it. There have also been some very interesting threads on the WPSMB on the Gambler's Special topic that are worth perusing. (love to research anything with potential history)
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#7065 - 09/03/10 08:22 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
James Offline


Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 66
Loc: CA
Great TR DUG, what a great experience. Very curious to see what that canyon looks like.

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#7066 - 09/03/10 09:04 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: James]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: James
Great TR DUG, what a great experience. Very curious to see what that canyon looks like.


I have nearly 400 photos and some video from the trip. My hiking buddy has more as well. I need to swap DVDs with him and finish uploading. There are some that I don't wish to share, but the rest will be up after I get back from this weekend's camping trip (camper this time). I'm not kidding when I say it took two years of work to get back there. I have 100s of hours of research in locating the site and gathering all the information I could find on the topic. In 2008 I was penciled in to hike back to the site with Tom Gossett and another partner. A snow storm stopped us before we got on trail. I tried last year with my son and another partner and I got us off route - luckily in the first hour. That didn't hurt so bad because we had time to pull a Whitney permit and I helped them get their first Whitney summits. When the photos are up, I'll post the link....................................DUG

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#7067 - 09/03/10 09:44 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Great job DUG. I posted something last night but I must not have hit the submit button.I am fascinated by the Gamblers Special crash.Such a tragedy. As a pilot I always like to analize what errors were made that could have been avoided.Sounds like an incredible physical challenge to get there.Look forward to your pics.

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#7068 - 09/03/10 09:51 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Rod]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Rod, since you're a pilot, maybe you know...

During a storm, the barometric pressure decreases, right?

And an airplane's altimeter uses that pressure to calculate altitude, right?

So as barometric pressure drops, an altimeter would read higher elevations. true?

Now if this plane was flying into a storm, could it have been that their altimeter was reporting a higher altitude than actual?

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#7069 - 09/03/10 10:13 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Wow DUG, now that's a hike worth the effort! How cool that must be. I need to make a note of this so I can give it a shot some day. Look forward to the pix!

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#7071 - 09/03/10 10:15 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Rod, since you're a pilot, maybe you know...

During a storm, the barometric pressure decreases, right?

And an airplane's altimeter uses that pressure to calculate altitude, right?

So as barometric pressure drops, an altimeter would read higher elevations. true?

Now if this plane was flying into a storm, could it have been that their altimeter was reporting a higher altitude than actual?


Altimeters are provided with a barosetting that allows the pilot to compensate for these weather changes, the sea-level air pressure to which the altimeter is adjusted appearing in a window of the dial. Flights below 18,000 ft (5486 m) must constantly contact the nearest traffic center to keep the altimeters so updated. Flights above 18,000 ft and over international waters utilize a constant altimeter setting of 29.92 in. Hg, or 1013.2 millibars (101.32 kilopascals) so that all high-flying aircraft have the same reference and will be interrelated, providing an extra margin of safety.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#7072 - 09/03/10 10:42 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Bee]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
If I understand the accident report correctly, they couldn't go above 12,000 feet anyway. The DC-3 is not pressurized. The pilot, for reasons unknown took an unauthorized shortcut, flying into headwinds. He thought he was clear of the mountains so he turned towards LA. There was some NAV towers out of service that night which made it harder for him to understand where he really was........................DUG

Just found out my partner lost his camera on the trip out. frown

My pics (not labeled yet): http://www.flickr.com/photos/30467211@N04/sets/72157624867297046/

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#7089 - 09/05/10 10:53 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
As Bee stated barometric pressure does effect altimeter readings but not very much. They do re-set the altimeter based on local barometric pressure.Usually every contact with air control you will get a altimeter setting.I read the NTSB report and as I recall they were flying VFR on a cloudy stormy night which were really IFR conditions.Poor visability and deviating from the flight route was the cause of flying into the mountain.
Here is a report blaming the probable cause on the pilot deviating from the normal recommended course.
http://www.airdisaster.com/reports/ntsb/AAR70-05.pdf

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#7168 - 09/09/10 06:25 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Bee]
Bob R Offline


Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: Ridgecrest, California
Originally Posted By: Bee
I think that I recalled seeing a copy of the original news article & other information about this area in Bob R's archives. I just looked for it a bit ago, and could not find it.

00 LA Times the day the wreckage was reported

To see a bigger image, click on the picture, select "View all sizes" under the Action tab (top left). Then select "Original."

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#7169 - 09/09/10 08:08 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Bob R]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Thank you, Bob. I knew that I had seen this somewhere in your files. Interesting read, not just for the Gambler's Special article, but for the sign of the times spread all over that front page.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#7523 - 09/17/10 12:52 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
My buddy's camera was found and returned. Pics are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30467211@N04/sets/72157624852322245/

And yes, I know the tent is too close to the water. It was either that or sleep on a boulder......................DUG


Edited by Steve C (09/17/10 04:09 PM)
Edit Reason: Made link clickable

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#7527 - 09/17/10 01:38 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Wow the gamblers special crash made it into the news along with some major big time events.The late 60's were really interesting times.
DUG thanks for your report and pictures.

PS DUG
The flicker link to those pictures isn't working and even when I copied and pasted it into the browser it didn't work.

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#7531 - 09/17/10 01:59 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Rod]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
flickr link worked for me.

I'm amazed at the condition of the wreckage. One would expect labels to be unreadable, paint to be badly faded...shoes to be completely disintegrated.

The condition of the debris makes it seem like a much more recent event than 40 years ago.

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#7533 - 09/17/10 02:05 PM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: Rod]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: Rod
Wow the gamblers special crash made it into the news along with some major big time events.The late 60's were really interesting times.
DUG thanks for your report and pictures.

PS DUG
The flicker link to those pictures isn't working and even when I copied and pasted it into the browswer it didn't work.


Rod,

The link works for me ok. Try via FB or WPSMB...............................................DUG

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#7551 - 09/18/10 11:11 AM Re: Overnight hike to the Gambler's Special [Re: DUG]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Now it works go figure. Great pictures.I really have a hard time with plane crashes.99% are pilot error and thus avoidable. I guess being a pilot and watching some of my favorite musical gropus and people from Buddy Holly, Richey Vallen, Big Bopper ,Ricky Nelson,Jim Croce on and on and my dad's close friend Audie Murphy die in plane crashes.All preventable plane crashes.
(Ricky Nelson's is still a mystery due to on board fire)


Edited by Rod (09/18/10 12:07 PM)

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