We rode mountain bikes up to Loon Lake July 13th. It was a great ride, made up predominantly of totally rideable single track. Note that there are a couple ways to do this ride and we went up and back the same way — which was NOT following the Secesh River up or down. We meant to ride the loop, but ended up not doing so. After eating lunch at the lake and chatting with a few other nice folks, we decided to hike to the other side to check out and take a couple pictures of the the B-23 Dragon Bomber plane. Here’s a summary of the documented history:
On January 20, 1943, a B-23 Dragon Bomber crash-landed on the bank of Loon Lake. Amazingly, much of the wreckage is still intact as you can see from my photo. From what I’ve read, the crew was on a training flight from Tonopah, Nevada to Tacoma, Washington when they encountered severe storms and flew off course. They were running low on fuel, had failing electronics and when things were at their most dire, they spotted an opening in the forest, which was a snow-covered Loon Lake and made an emergency landing.
Some of the crew stayed behind with an injured crewman, while the others went for help. It took them 15 days to hike to civilization. In all, it’s estimated that they hiked upwards of 40 miles until they found a telephone in the Lake Fork Ranger station. Ultimately a backcountry pilot spotted the plane and was able to rescue the crewman who had stayed behind.
The trail to Loon Lake is accessible for hiking, biking, motorcycles and pack animals. I’ll come clean, I’ve got no problem sharing the trail with these folks, machines and animals, but I did notice something that bugged me on the ride. It’s common to have a few trees across the trail. In the early season there are lots of groups like CIMBA (to name one) that do volunteer trail maintenance for everyone to enjoy. And let’s not forget the Forest Service! When there’s an occasional down tree mid-season, hikers, bicyclists and generally speaking, pack animals can go “over” these while staying on the trail. However, motorcyclists can’t lift their bikes up easily, so they drive off the trail and around the trees. And so does the next one and so one. Motorcycling off the trail can create a big mess. Here’s my personal belief: If you’re riding a motorcycle (or animal) that can’t stay on the trail due to a tree across it, you should be hauling a chainsaw and clearing the tree out of your way. There, I’ve said it. It doesn’t take very many people “making their own trails” to cause significant erosion and damage.
Off soapbox. It was a ton of fun and followed-up with an excellent soak and Burgdorff Hot Springs.