a blog by Peter Stekel

FINAL FLIGHT is the story of four aviators lost in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks on November 18, 1942

Read more about FINAL FLIGHT here.

August 2010

November 14, 2010 UPDATED AGAIN AGAIN!

These photos show all the hardware installed in my ankle by the close of surgery. Also, a 3D view of my broken fibula. Neat. As with the other images, click the thumbnail to see the full-sized image.

Note the middle image with the screw going all the way through my ankle. This screw was eventually removed. All the other hardware stays in forever.

October 24, 2010 UPDATED AGAIN!

Here are cell phone photographs from a computer display from X-rays of my ankle after the long pin [see above] through my ankle was removed.

September 20, 2010 UPDATE!

X-ray photos of my ankle, pre-surgery and during surgery. Click the thumbnail to see full-sized image.


Front View     Left View   Hardware View


August 5, 2010

On July 25th I crossed over Crabtree Pass from Miter Basin in southern Sequoia National Park. Hiking with me were my friends Jim and Bronwyn Buntine and their two kids, Dougal and Kate.

There had been thunderclouds building all day, and all the previous day, so I made sure my friends from England were aware that wet granite is slick and easy to slip on. Crabtree Pass, this late July day, was a solid Class 2 descent on the north side over slabs of rock covered with granite "marbles," talus, scree, and patches of snow. I'd done the pass over 10 years ago with Gregg Fauth, traversing the left side of the upper lake. Due to steep snow on that side, and concerns about the kids, we decided to cross on the lake's drier right side [as you face it from the Pass].

At about 2:00 PM, less than 200 vertical feet below the Pass I slipped on a patch of rock. Performing a pirouette - as I've done thousands of times over 45 years of Sierra hiking - to absorb this unexpected forward movement, my weight shifted, causing me to sit down on the rotating ankle. Sadly, for me, that ankle had not turned. When I stood up, my left ankle was turned around 180 degrees from where it should be.

Imagine my surprise.

Without thinking, I grasped my foot in my hands and turned it around to its proper orientation. I could hear, and feel, crunching in the ankle. Then, under my direction, Jim and Bronwyn splinted my foot into my boot.

After locating the kids downslope on a "level" piece of ground, Jim acted as my safety as I scooted down about 500 vertical feet of slope, culminating in a sideways self-arrest down 100 feet of snow.

Then, Jim began a 7 mile, mostly crosscountry, hike to Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station. It was 4 PM. I ate 800 mg of Aleve.

The National Park Service helicopter showed up at 7 PM. Dusk was clearly closing in and I had given up on hearing the pocka-pocka of a helicopter until the following day. That was fine with me. I didn't want anybody from Search and Rescue risking their lives to pull me out of the backcountry.

My injury was not life-threatening and, really - it didn't hurt that much. It would take at least an hour to get me to the landing zone which meant a nearly dark ascent from a narrow canyon at high altitude in squirrelly thunderstorm winds.

I told all this to Rock Creek Ranger and medic Erika Jostad. She agreed with my decision. She remained behind along with Daniel. Around 10 PM, Jim returned with Crabtree Ranger Ron Pelewski. With three park medics I was in good hands that night.

Monday morning I was medivac'ed to the clinic in Lone Pine where I was ably taken care of my Dr. Kibler and nurse Margo Ivey [from Brookings, OR]. They sent me on to Bishop where Dr. Mark Robinson performed surgery on my thrice broken left ankle on Tuesday morning, July 27. Alden Nash helped me retrieved my car and the trailhead at Horseshoe Meadow and on Thursday, July 29 I picked up the Buntine family at the end of their backpack trip.

I took my friends to the airport in Los Angeles for there Saturday flight home and picked up Alice Goldberg, mother-in-law, who had flown from Seattle in order to help me with the drive home. My surgery and cast made it difficult to drive and Alice ended up spending most of the next three days behind the wheel.

I am now home, in recovery - it will be 2 months before I can walk or put any weight on my left foot. I had planned another trip to Mendel Glacier in late September but that will have to wait until 2011.

Just before I left for California last month I got this email from Harry Goulding in southern California.

In doing a little web surfing last night I came across your blog on Final Flight. I happened to find it while checking out links to my father, Dr. Robert Goulding. I think it is very possible that he is the Capt. Robert Goulding that you refer to in the blog.

Dad was an MD, born in Oakland, Ca. in 1917, he was an Army Air Paramedic in the '47 time frame, after leaving the Army he had a private practice in Bowman, ND, (where I was born in 53) and we moved to Carmel, CA about a year and a half later.

Sadly, Dad passed away in 1992, but my mom just turned 89 and is still living in the same house they purchased in 1957! Her memory is pretty good, and she could probably tell you a story or two about Dad's Army adventures. If you Google Robert L. Goulding, the links that reference Transactional Analysis, Redecision Therapy, or the Western Institute for Group and Family Therapy would give you a bit of a glimpse of who he was.

I'm fairly certain that Harry Goulding's father is the same Robert Goulding who accompanied Bill Bond in 1947 when he guided Captain Robert Lewis to Mendel Glacier to recover remains from a Beech 18 AT-7 Navigator #41-21079 missing since November 18, 1942. Goulding was a 'para-doctor" - a medical doctor trained as a paratrooper to accompany soldiers into battle. On this mission, Dr. Goulding would have been there to supervise recovery of any of the crew's remains.

Also along were USFS Ranger Perkins and packer, Harvy Sauter. Captain Andrew J. Walton was part of the team and remained behind at Florence Lake to forward messages back and forth from the mountains to headquarters in Marin County's Hamilton Field.

Many thanks to Harry Goulding for getting in touch with me and sharing this part of his father's history.



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