Southern Bighorns 2020

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by wobbly one, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Hello Fellow Travelers. I went to visit with a friend down in the southern Bighorns over the Labor Day weekend and thought I would post up some photos in case you are curious what that part of the world looks like. Turned out to be a 500 mile loop - two days and one camp night. Come on along if you have nothing better to do.

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    You probably already know, but for those that don't the Bighorns are an island of mountains located in north central Wyoming. Roughly the same size as their cousins to the east, the Black Hills, but much more rugged. They don't seem to get a ton of tourist traffic through them, but they are certainly the playground for the locals.

    So the morning arrives and first off I need to check things out before I get too carried away and leave my comfortable perch. Looks like a bluebird day with only a little haze from the fires in the west. I feel your pain my western brothers – you suffered quite a loss this year. It will be generations before your forests are restored. This photo shows the other mountain ranges looking south from Billings – the general direction I am heading.

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    And of course the obligatory one, for insurance purposes I guess.

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    So it's wheels up with a wave from my hot wife and a nice Fleetwood Mac mix in my helmet.

    Here is a shot of the west side of the Pryor mountains. Interesting fact about these guys – the surface that you see used to be underwater and was later raised up in some calamitous event. This has caused for some fantastic canyons to be eroded and formed.

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    It is way off the usual beaten path, but if you are ever in this area I would recommend taking Wyoming state highway 37 north out of Lovell to Devils Canyon Overlook, which is the east side of the Pryors, and take a look at the Bighorn Lake canyon – if I remember correctly it is 1000' above the water. You will also pass through the BLM Wild Horse Preserve. The 60 mile long reservoir is a National Recreation Area and is spectacular – water is about 200 - 300' deep, shear cliffs rising out of the water, no boat friendly shoreline to speak of, two boat-in only campgrounds, several floating toilets, lots of bear, and home to one of my anchors. It sees very little use and you can easily disappear here. So if you are into wild horses or high overlooks, this may be your spot. Goosenecks doesn't have much on this place.

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    Next on this magical mystery tour is Sheep Mountain, because I am constantly being asked “Wobbly – what about Sheep Mountain”. Ok, actually no one has asked me about this. But in case they have always wanted to, here it is. Worthy of a couple of photos and a road-side sign.

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    Moving on - the next stop is the town of Greybull, well, Hawkins & Powers Aviation Fire Tanker Museum to be exact. I have driven past this place for a hundred years and have never taken the time to stop and check things out. Today is that day. The aviation shop and tanker base shut down 15 years ago but they keep this little museum going. Some may find it a bit underwhelming, but I like these old folksy museums.

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    I see they have the same riding suit as me.

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    #1
  2. Belgradian

    Belgradian Been here awhile

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    Another Wobbly trip report:clap Keep it coming!
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  3. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Wow Belgradian - that is a nice compliment - thank you!
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  4. sledrydr

    sledrydr Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to more! The Bighorns are great fun. Lots of riding opportunity and accommodations or camping. I was somewhat surprised at the SXS traffic up near Burgess. Not a problem but they are sure there.
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  5. georet

    georet Adventurer

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    Interesting bit on Hawkins & Powers. In the mid 1970"s while working in uranium exploration out of Casper, I contracted Dan Hawkins to pilot me in their new Bell Jet Ranger to carry out a radiometric survey near Hahn's Peak, CO. I went to Greybull to get the survey equipment mounted in the chopper. Very interesting aviation group to say the least. I did not know that the company folded and their operation became a museum. Thanks for the pictures and description. I grew up on a ranch 20 miles northwest of Kaycee, so am anxious to see more of your report.
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  6. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Thanks sledrydr. I agree - the UTV traffic can be a real factor to contend with, especially on holiday weekends. By your stage name I think you would enjoy the winter time here - some of the best sledding around.
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  7. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Interesting that you had some dealings with these folks georet. Maybe you are in this photo...? You grew up in a nice spot!

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  8. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Before I post up another entry I wanted to call your attention to some big fires that are burning currently in Colorado, that will have lasting impact. I just happened to see this post in Regional Forums / The Rockies https://advrider.com/f/threads/2020-fires.1471581/ My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who may be affected by this. Be safe.

    Dang – quite a point in time to be posting things about a fire bomber museum. Not the best of photos coming up, but you will get a sense of this place and would definitely recommend a visit if you are passing by.

    This is a KC97. My Father-in-law was a pilot and flew these in the Air Force. Pretty cool looking plane.

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    Umm, the production quality on their displays is probably not the highest, but they try. This whatchamacallit is called a “cob”.

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    And it's on loan... I ask you - If you had a cob, and loaned it out to a museum, would you want your cob sitting on dirt? I think not.

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    Beechcraft Model 18

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    Fairchild C-119

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    PB4Y-2 (B-24 variant)

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    Another cob. On the ground. C'mon good people can a pallet not be found?

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    You know, I think I could see me being a fire bomber guy. Shirt sleeves rolled, cigar, cap up high and slightly turned, Hot Wife - “Please don't go. It's too dangerous”, Me - “But I must. It's my duty”, return to ticker tape parade. Yeah, I can see it.

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    #8
  9. bomose

    bomose Long timer Supporter

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    My dad was a mechanic on C 119s. I stopped by there a few years ago.
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  10. georet

    georet Adventurer

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    When I was at the H & P facility in the 1970's Mr. Hawkins talked about retrofitting some of the C-119's with JATO as seen on the plane in bomose's picture to allow the planes to climb out of difficult terrain and to assist with takeoffs when heavily loaded.
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  11. Idahopilot

    Idahopilot Been here awhile

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    Did you know Chris LeDoux?
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  12. sledrydr

    sledrydr Been here awhile

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    I spent 11 years riding the Bighorns each winter. Then I'd head to J.Hole for the hill climb before heading back to the cornfields. Day's gone by. Now it's been fun exploring some of the same area's on 2 wheels. Also much warmer!

    Great aviation pics/info btw. Good stuff.
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  13. georet

    georet Adventurer

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    No, I didn't know Chris, but am a fan of his music. I graduated from Kaycee High in 1962 well before Chris moved there. After high school I attended UW and then worked in Casper until 1980. I did know his future father-in-law from my high school years.
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  14. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem Supporter

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    cool, keep it coming
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  15. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Well truth be known, I really can't see me as a fire bomber pilot – I don't have it in me. Don't have the stones. The folks at Hawkins & Powers have put in place a nice but sober memorial to their fallen comrades. Fire fighting aviation is a deadly serious profession, which I can only imagine is similar in many regards to wartime aviation. And until 2002 many were using old WWII bombers that were probably like a cat on their 9th life. So to you Steve Wass, Craig LaBare, Mike Davis, Ricky Schwartz, and Milt Stollack, I say thank you and Godspeed. You gave your lives saving lives. For an excellent documentary check out this one from National Geographic, which covers many aspects of fire bombers pretty well. Ol' #127 from Hawkins & Powers plays a supporting role.



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    Well hello PB4Y-2 – I have never met a movie star before.

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    Dang - this is a pretty expensive 110 gallons of water.

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    Another shot of the dead sexy Twin Beech. Looks like the plane from Casa Blanca. “Here's lookin' at you kid”

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  16. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Great shot bomose! Dang your dad had his hands full it looks like.

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    I went through jump school in the Army a hundred years ago and had three of my jumps from this plane. You know the old saying that when people think they are going to die, they find themselves moving towards the light? Well this photo is very apropos... I was scared sh#!less.

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    On my third jump I was head of my particular stick and got to be the one standing in the door until we passed over the drop zone. Next to me was the meanest NCO I had ever encountered. If you just didn't feel up to jumping that day, you got to ride back with him. I chose to jump.

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  17. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Thanks sledrydr. Not made the hillclimb at Jackson Hole yet but it is on my to-do list.
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  18. cagiva549

    cagiva549 whats a cagiva

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    Another pict from inside the C119 .

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    A JATO is a solid fuel rocket attached to the outside of an aircraft for boost , the jets on the C119 were removed from the P2 Neptune and adapted to the C119 , in late 60 the marines did that to some too . Above post is the APU in the upper deck on the C 119 , that’s a pretty sweet looking little generator , I’d kinda like to have one of those .

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    I left Shell Wyoming last Wednesday morning , got snowed on crossing the BigHorns on my way out , I spent three months sorta working in Shell last summer and riding a few miles in the BigHorns , Well over a thousand and I haven’t scratched the surface . I did pass 3 atvs on the Duggway trail but most of the time I didn’t see much other than mountians and animals . I’ll be back next summer . I love that place but it’s too cold for me now .

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  19. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Wow - nice photos cagiva! Yes, the climate can be a bit iffy. We're sitting in snow here now.
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  20. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    JATO= jet assist.
    RAT= rocket assist.
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