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Re: Bike rides

Posted: 30 May 2018 08:41
by bertvorgon
Hike to Mount Slesse Memorial

I doubt the pilots even had a second of warning, at 520KM, when they slammed directly into the main wall of the third peak on Mt. Slesse and into oblivion. They are still there to this day, along with 60 other souls.

As another part of Matt and I getting ourselves into shape for our big summer hike, we upped the ante on this one by donning a heavier pack and doing some serious altitude gain. We had wanted to do a different hike and elected to drive out the Fraser valley and up the Chilliwack Lake road, then right up the Nesakwatch Creek FSR, to a point that we could not get over a huge washout with the Tracker.

This hike was to take us up to the Memorial plaque for the Trans-Canada flight #810, which crashed on Dec 9, 1956. I was aware of this crash back in the mid 1960’s, as a good friend at the times Dad, was to have been on this flight as Chief Steward for Trans-Canada airlines. His wife had some sort of very bad premonition about this flight, and, with great family stress, he had his shift changed, as she was just so adamant the he not go. Then later in 1969 -1975, I hiked on the West side of the mountain, looking for the long lost Red Mountain gold mine which I have written about. (I would post it on here if anyone was interested)

Matt and I got to the washout about 8:30, donning packs which felt like a brick on my back. There was light cloud cover so the temperature was perfect for hiking, even taking my fleece vest off after a few kilometers of uphill walking on the washed out road.

After about four kilometers we came to a small sign leading to the start of the uphill grind to the memorial plaque. The trail dropped very steeply to start, coming finally to a new bridge built last year, to cross the Nesakwatch Creek, now in full flow with spring runoff, brilliant in the morning sun.

Now the real climb began, a sliver of a trail carved out of the forest. As we got higher, incredible vistas of the mountains to the east were before us, thick wisps of fog and cloud swirling about the tops. This mountain across from us is on the serious climbers list to do, Mt. Rexford. Soon we saw snow ahead along the edge of the trail, letting us know we would soon be walking on it. I was hoping it would not be too soft.

One component of our hikes is breaking in our relatively new packs. It is like breaking in a new pair of boots. If you are a backpacker you will know what I mean. You need to get the hip belts and shoulder straps loosened up to really fit your body. Our packs have a pivot in the lower back so that when you walk, your hips can move without the shifting of the pack as you walk. Brilliant idea! I would buy a beer for the person at Black Diamond who came up with that idea. I finally retired my state of the art in 1970, external frame pack, for this new one and must admit it is quite nice.

We now were on about two to three feet of snow and thankfully it was still firm in the morning sun, which was slowly disappearing in clouds that kept rolling in from down the valley. Ahead was a sign requesting that this area was now legally a protected site due to the bodies still being here and the wreckage, none of which was recoverable due to the severity of the crash and the remoteness, let alone the avalanche danger.

We finally came to the memorial plaque and, one of the most incredible vistas ahead of us I have experienced, of Mt. Slesse, the peak shrouded in mist, shear walls of granitic rock, three small glaciers, waterfalls galore and the odd rumble as small avalanches tumbled down in the warming air of the morning. I must say for me it was quite the experience to think of those lost souls on the mountain, life over in a blink. As the plaque says, the MOUNTAIN is their memorial.

In reading the accident report, the pilot(s) made a fatal error and turned right, when they should have turned left, after reporting an engine fire issue. The weather was bad and requested traffic control to route them back to Vancouver, where the flight had just originated from. Both of them either miss heard Control and neither checked their compass headings. So by turning right, it got them right into the end of the Cascade range and they lost altitude to below the top of Slesse, at 8,000 feet, hitting the face at about 7,000 feet.

Matt and I stood there for quite awhile, just contemplating the entire vista before us, both for the natural beauty and the disaster that happened.

There is another memorial up higher from where we were, a cairn with wreckage and a propeller blade, which is even closer to the base of the actual wall of Slesse. We decided to head higher, but, ultimately turned around as the snow got deeper and with some bush whacking, was getting tough, the snow having flattened the clump maple over the trail. We will try to go back up there in another 3 weeks when the snow is gone. We headed back to the plaque for some much needed lunch, having burned up some serious calories to get to this 4,000 foot level.

The day had moved on so the trip down was just a case of put it into 3rd gear and down we went. That last 4 km back on the road was a bit of a slog and it sure felt good to get those boots off, we had just walked 14.2 km and did just over 4,000 feet of elevation change.

I have attached the link to the crash site info should you be curious. There was also the rumour/legend/myth that there was an Asian fellow carrying $80,000.00 dollars on the flight, that supposedly was never found or recovered.

Keith Law
May 27, 2018 ... Flight_810

Re: Bike rides

Posted: 30 May 2018 08:44
by bertvorgon
Some more

Re: Bike rides

Posted: 30 May 2018 08:46
by bertvorgon
More pics

Re: Bike rides

Posted: 30 May 2018 08:48
by bertvorgon
And final

Re: Bike rides

Posted: 30 May 2018 18:51
by gooned
Great day out guys.