Friday, September 23, 2011

Off-trail hike in the Leppy Hills of Nevada 9/18/2011

Directions and information: The Leppy Hills are located to the north of West Wendover, Nevada. It is a sparse desert range with many ATV and off-road vehicle opportunities. I drove out Florence Road going underneath Interstate 80. The road turns to gravel as it travels north. After the turnoff for the developed Leppy Trails the road becomes rougher. Three miles later I stopped the car at an ATV trail. With a high clearance vehicle it is possible to drive into the Pilot Valley.
The hike: Today's hike is primarily off-trail through the desert so I do not know many of the peak names. I started off scrambling to the top of a ridge and then summited a mountain with views east and west and to the south. The draw of the Leppy Hills is that it offers many off-trail hiking and scrambling opportunities. Remember to watch for rattlesnakes and carry water during the summer. DO NOT climb or hike anything that is too difficult for you. I have included my favorite pictures from the hike. For other hiking opportunities in the Leppy Hills of Nevada consult my July post on Needlepoint and my May 2010 post on the Leppy Hills Geo cache.
Artistic picture of dead wood in a shrub
Another artistic pic of dead wood
Desert shrub with Wendover in background
Looking south from mountain summit
View west towards Silverzone Pass

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Winchell Lake East Humboldt Mountains, Nevada September 5, 2011

The sign at the beginning of the trail

Location: The trailhead for Winchell lake is located on the Angel lake road approximately 11 miles from the town of Wells, Nevada, and two miles from Angel lake. The road out of Wells is well signed and easy to follow. Angel Lake itself has a campground and is a popular spot to fish. This is my last post chronicling the trails around Angel lake itself. Other posts included the trails to Greys lake and Smyth lake.

The hike: The trail to Winchell lake is approximately eight miles long. It is moderately strenuous with the trail climbing into and out of a number of small drainages. The views east are splendid for most of the hike. After approximately two miles the trail enters the East Humboldt Wilderness. The trail is easy to follow; however, there are parts where hikers have created alternate trails through certain sections. These unincorporated side trails do come back to the main trail after a short time. The vegetation on this trail consists of Aspen in the drainages and Mountain Mohagany and scrub brush in other areas. With few trees the trail can be hot because of the lack of shade. Plan accordingly with water and sun screen. There are a number of good camping spots at Winchell lake. I have never hiked the trail from Winchell lake to Lizzie's Basin and do not know whether it has been maintained. For the more experienced hiker it looked like there were a number of good routes to scramble higher out of Winchell lake. Hiking time including stops was 4.5 hours. Winchell lake is above 10,000 feet and holds snow well into late July. Do not attempt this hike before late summer.

Classic high elevation scenery in Nevada

High mountains out of Winchell lake. Looking west.
Winchell lake itself above 10,000 feet
Nevada at Winchell lake

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Egan Canyon, Nevada September 2, 2011

Is this post a location of a grave in the canyon?

Directions: Egan Canyon is located approximately 60 miles south of West Wendover, Nevada, off of US 93. You can access the canyon by taking a connector road from Cherry Creek or by driving the historic Pony Express route from Schellbourne, Nevada. Either way the road is passable in a two wheel drive car in dry weather. Make sure to carry extra water and have a full tank of gas. This area is remote.

History: Egan Canyon is the location of many of the mines which made Cherry, Nevada, one of the best- producing silver and gold distrticts in White Pine County. It all began with the discovery of gold in 1872 in Egan Canyon. Within a year nine mines would be working the area including the Exchequer, Flagstaff and Tea Cup Mines. A five stamp, 25 ton mill called the Thompson would be built in the canyon to process the ore. Businesses associated with a mining town were built including boarding houses, a brewery and restaurants. Major mining activities would occur in Egan Canyon and the surrounding country off and on through 1940. (Information from Old Heart of Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Elko County By: Shawn Hall). To read more infomation about Cherry Creek, Nevada, look at my February post.
Egan Canyon also served as a Pony Express station from 1860-1861. At these stations riders would change horses as they carried mail from Saint Josephs, Missouri, to Sacremento, California.
Mining ruins in the canyon
My car in true Nevada desert country
Ruins of a house
Below: The entrance to an old mine. Make sure to heed the warning sign and not enter any mine. This old mines are extremely dangerous with toxic fumes and unstable support systems.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wendover Airfield Tour August 27, 2011

Inside the hospital at the Wendover airfield
Directions: Historic Wendover Airfield is located in Wendover, Utah, approximately 110 miles west of Salt Lake City. Visitors can see a small museum of the base open daily or take a short tour of the base by car or with a guide. This was the first time the airfield had offered a more extensive tour.
The tour: August 27, 2011, the nonprofit organization, Historic Wendover Airfield, offered an exclusive tour of the World War II base. The tour lastest four hours and included buildings which had never seen by the public. Notable tour destinations included the armament storage bunker, hospital, enlisted serviceman mess hall, barracks, Fat Man and Little Boy loading pit and the remains of the bomb assembly building (now just a block). For the tour visitors had the opportunity to ride in a vintage World War II troop carrier or Jeep. The tour was narrated by two knowledgable airfield historians: Jim Peterson and Thomas Peterson. Today the airfield needs $3 million to restore important buildings on base and to create a bigger functional museum. The base did receive a grant from the Department of Interior to renovate the Enola Gay Hanger but it is far from completion. Overtime through the help of voluteers and donors this airfield will be restored.
Short History: Selected because of its remote location, Wendover airfield would become the largest base in the World during World War II at 3.5 million acres. By 1944 the base had 668 buildings and 20,000 personnel. The main role for the base was as a training site for B-17, B-24 and P-47 heavy bomber groups. After training at Wendover, these crews fought in the European and Pacific theaters. Later in the war Wendover, was selected to develop and test the Fat Man and Little Boy bombs and train the crews of the Enola Gay and Boxscar. No nuclear material was ever in Wendover and each bomb had 1,000 pounds of TNT. The military tested the radar components on its aerial drops to make sure the bomb dropped straight and exploded at the right altitude.
One major aspect of the Wendover tests was secrecy. The crews of the Enola Gay and Boxscar didn't know the true nature of the mission. To get to the bomb loading pit and assembly building a serviceman had to have three security badges and signed authorization from Col. Paul Tibbets. Likewise, the companies who built various components of the bomb had no clue what it would be used for. (Information from the Historic Wendover Airfield personnel and pamphlet).
For more pictures and information about the base please go to my Veteran's Day post.
Enlisted mens quarters
Outside one of the barracks
Inside the barracks. These barracks were heated by coal powered heaters during the winter.
Inside the Officer's Club where social functions such as dances and games took place. This building also served as the Officer's dining hall.
Another pic in the Officer's club. This space in the future will become a community center.
Inside Hangar #3
The Norden Bombsight had its own climate controlled and secured building. The Norden Bombsight would be kept behind vault style doors and would be guarded 24 7.
Outside the Enola Gay hangar
Tail door in the Enola Gay hangar. B-29s from tail to nose were too big length wise for the hangar.
Inside the offices of the Enola Gay Hangar. This would have been Col. Tibbet's office.
At the bomb loading sight. Heavy bombers would back over pit and the bomb would be raised
into the belly of the aircraft. Airmen had to have many security clearances to be in this area.
Vintage World War II aircraft taking off from the airfield.
Replica explosives and armaments inside storage bunkers.
Outside armament bunker
What remains of the Fat Man and Little Boy assembly building. After the war many of the buildings on the base were transferred to New Mexico.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Historic Photos of Wendover Airfield

This post includes historic photos of the Wendover Airfield and its airmen. I decided to keep photos of the tour and historic photographs of the base seperate. Thanks to Google for the pictures.

Serviceman using the Norden Bombsight in plane.
Above the airfield with plane in right hand corner. Taken in 1943
Norden Bombsight. Used to help drop bombs accurately on targets.
Boxscar crew C-13 in Wendover.
The x of the runways taken from above.
A bomber backing onto the bomb loading pit where dummy "Little Boy" bombs were loaded.
Crew of Enola Gay with plane