On Sunday, after checking the fog forecast, D. and I returned to El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve to see if we could find the pieces of airliner wreckage that are supposedly visible from the Resolution Trail. The Resolution, an Australian airliner on final approach to what was then San Francisco Municipal Airport, crashed on the side of the mountain almost 60 years ago, before the land was part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (click here to see the Resolution in her heyday). While most of the wreckage has been recovered, there are still pieces of it strewn throughout the general crash area, some of which is visible from the trail originally created by rescuers on the scene following the crash. The preserve requests that all visitors respect this historical site by leaving any artifacts where they are found.
So we set out, cameras at the ready, to see what we could see (here's my pics).
The canopy overhead of mixed evergreen forest, much of it second-growth redwood.
A mossy redwood stump seems to grin crookedly.
Happy stump is happy!
This charred redwood stump is enormous.
No, really -- it's enormous.
Looking up through the hollowed-out enormous charred stump.
Near the enormous charred stump, we see a couple of moss-covered sheds half-hidden in the underbrush next to El Corte de Madera Creek.
We think they have to do with pumping water (there are private residences along the preserve's boundaries; perhaps this is a water source for them).
A wild strawberry plant grabs a little bit of sun underneath huge redwoods near the creek.
El Corte de Madera Creek, lined with redwoods, mossy rocks and ferns.
The canopy of alder, redwood and Douglas fir.
A fungus oozes excess moisture on a rotting long along the trail.
Another huge mossy charred redwood stump. (This one is not enormous, though, just huge.)
A swayback Douglas fir sweeps gracefully over the trail.
This mossy hollowed log looks like a cozy little den, doesn't it?
The gnarliness of some of the Douglas fir trunks is quite impressive. In spite of this, the trees seem to be thriving.
This log has eaves of moss (and a cobweb hammock).
We see a cairn at the base of a charred trunk. We know that the airliner crash set off a dozen brush fires, and we also know a geocache (sometimes they are marked by cairns) is hidden very close to the wreckage site. We think we are very, very close.
Upslope from the trail, I spot some objects that do not belong in this natural setting. We believe this is plane wreckage.
Downslope from the same spot in the trail, D. spots mangled metal in the underbrush. Definitely plane wreckage.
Supposedly there is a wing section someplace too, with registration numbers still visible on it, and an engine cowling (a wing got clipped off by a tree as the plane came in too low in heavy fog), but apparently one must go off the trail to see this, and we are not going to do that. (For one, it's insanely steep. For two, there's poison oak everywhere. For three, it will compact the soil and the feeder roots of trees up near the surface and damage the habitat. For four, it's against preserve rules.)
In this tranquil setting, I cannot imagine the horrific scene immediately following the crash. All 19 on board (11 passengers and 8 crew) were killed. May they rest in peace.
Here is a charred madrone trunk a few feet away from the wreckage, probably a victim of the post-crash fires.
On our way back, a bigleaf maple stretches out over the trail to grab some sun near El Corte de Madera Creek.
Also near the creek we find a stand of forget-me-nots (a non-native species) in a patch of dappled sun.
We stop to take a look at a curious scene at a bend in the trail near the creek. Beside the trail, nestled between two huge redwoods, is the remains of a large water storage tank, now succumbing to rust.
Oxidation is carving a filigree of lace from the metal.
Close to the rusted water tank we see another shed (across the trail from the first sheds we noticed on our way in).
The signs on it say "Danger Keep Out" and "Danger 240 Volts."
It has jury-rigged wires and a hose coming out of it.
The wires and hose go up to this . . . thing . . .
. . . which is connected somehow to a minuscule dam (whose spillway is held up by cinderblocks and 2 x 4s) and a waterfall.
There is a motor outside the shed.
If this is how the people who live just outside the boundary of the preserve get their water, I'm surprised their taps don't run dry every other hour.
Some ferns growing by the little dam's mossy stones.
I don't know what that looping metal bar is.
A cobweb nestled in a deep furrow of a redwood trunk catches a beam of late afternoon sun.
Blackberry blossom, emblematic of summer.