Back in August I had a really fun long weekend playing in the Eastern Sierra with the GBA (Geocachers of the Bay Area) 4×4 group. There is a lot more to do over there than we could fit into the three days we had at the time, so last week we drove out for a follow up trip. Our targets were Laurel Lakes (which we did in August, but couldn’t resist a second run), the crash site of Flight 802 in the mountains just east of Bishop, the Champion Mine/Black Eagle camp on the flanks of White Mountain, Reward Mine, and the Whitney Arch in the Alabama Hills.
Our initial plan was to make this trip primarily focused on fall color photography, and we’d just join in on a couple of runs with the 4×4 group. But an early season snowfall and cold temperatures pretty much fast-tracked the trees to brown, leaving us with little to photograph. I was really looking forward to the Friday afternoon run into Laurel Lakes since it passes through an enormous aspen grove, but it turns out they were all brown or bare. Disappointing, but it can’t be a perfect show every year.
On Friday evening we headed up into the hills east of Bishop to visit the crash site of Convair 340/440 Flight 802. This plane, carrying 36 people, crashed into the mountainside soon after taking off from Bishop Airport in 1974. (crash report) (another detailed description). Though not a far walk, the crash site isn’t easy to get to, either requiring a very steep hike up a canyon or a treacherous contour walk across a rocky slope.
From the crash site we watched an incredible sunset while exploring the remains of the plane and personal belongings. I’ve visited crash sites before, but mostly of military aircraft where crew were able to eject safely. This site was different – shoes, razors, and souvenirs from Mammoth were just a few things that reminded us that almost 40 people died here. A cross, made from parts of the destroyed plane, sits on top of the hill as a memorial. (Flight 802 photos)