Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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I barely got to know the people terminal leave in VB–82 and only just managed to get my flight time to date before my terminal leave started, Sept. 12. In the mean time I had bought a car, a 1937 blue Ford coupe, 1937 Ford with the intention of driving home in it and seeing some of the sights on the way. I didn’t get very far the first day, in fact spent several days in Oakland. At one time I had vaguely hoped to get Joe Bradley to climb Mt. Whitney with me, but had to be content with going to the top of the U.S. and back (from the short easterly approach) by myself. That was after visiting King’s Canyon and the National Parks Giant Forest, which, of course, meant crossing the Sierra somewhere, as it turned out via the first available pass to the south. It was an easy climb as far as gradient was Mt. Whitney concerned though long the way I chose to do it—up and back in one day from where I left the car. This was a short distance below a place called Whitney Portal, at about 8000 ft., which was as far as the road was passable at the time. I spent the previous night there in my sleeping bag. The round trip was something like 27 miles 27± miles and involved a climb and then a descent of about 6500 ft. At perhaps 14,000 ft. while I was lying down to rest, a flock of ravens appeared and began circling and even peeling off to get a better view—an eerie experience! The high altitude bothered my wind considerably, and the last few miles of the descent were too much for my feet, my sneakers being a little too small and eventually causing the pressure on my big toes to turn the toe-nails black, which they remained for months. It was, however, a grand trip altogether. Mt. Whitney is an impressive peak from the east side and would be a very difficult climb except for the zig-zagging of the trail.

There is considerable timber trees at medium altitudes (above the desert and below timberline)—ponderosa, lodgepole and foxtail pine predominating at progressively higher altitudes. There are little ponds in tarns tarns in most of the glacial basins or cirques between 9000 and 12,000 feet, and two or three are strikingly beautiful. The animal life seen featured one mammal and various birds, including ravens. summitIt was balmy on top, and I found two young “draft dodgers” there enjoying the view. I went down with them as far as their camp at about 10,000 ft., passing another party I had overhauled at about a thousand feet below the top. The two men had left their third companion, a girl in ski boots, the wife of one of them who had never climbed before, to wait at the col where first views to the west were obtained. How she ever got that far amazed me, and how she fared on the long descent remains a mystery. After getting back to the car, at about dusk, I decided to return to Lone Pine and relax in the luxury of a bath and a good bed rather than spend another night on the mountain. There were no regrets.