On Nov. 22, 1950, park ranger Blake VandeWater, Paul Petzoldt and two other mountaineers climbed Mount Moran to investigate the wreckage of a plane that had crashed the evening before.
En route from Chico, California, to Billings, Montana, the DC-3 crashed during a storm. Owned by New Tribes Mission, a religious organization, the plane was on the first leg of a flight to South America. All 21 passengers, including seven children, died. The three pilots had flown during World War II.
It was impossible to recover the plane or the passengers because of the extreme terrain, so the wreckage remains on the mountain today. Everyone who climbs in this area is expected to show respect and to leave the mountain grave site as it is. Noted mountaineers and guides Glenn Exum, Petzolt and Dick Emerson later attended a memorial at the crash site.
VandeWater received the Distinguished Service Honor Award, which at that time was the highest commendation the Interior Department could give. Blake’s ascent of Mount Moran that day was deemed a heroic deed involving personal risk of life beyond the call of duty. He was a well-known businessman in Jackson who died in 2009 at the age of 91.
Brothers Dan and Doug Lamoreux have written the book “Apparition Lake.” It is a fictional tale set in a real place that is richly described, and much of the story is based on historical events and actions. The location is Yellowstone National Park.
It just so happens that Dan lives in Alpine and works in Jackson. The inspiration to write the novel started as a technical explanation to his brother about temporal lakes, and it turned into a “what if” joking session during a two-hour drive from Yellowstone to Dan’s home. By the time they hit the house the idea had blossomed into “Apparition Lake.”
The good news is that just before midnight on Halloween the book hit the Amazon rankings of No. 1 best-seller for Kindle Native American literature, No. 1 best-seller in U.S. books (paperback and Kindle) in the Native American category and No. 5 Kindle best-seller in the suspense/paranormal category.
Dan originally came to northwest Wyoming more than 30 years ago as the chief of police in Big Piney. Since then he has lived in Pinedale, Jackson and Alpine as well as Victor, Idaho. He says the area has always touched his soul, and he anticipates never leaving. Brother and co-author Doug lives in Rockford, Illinois.
Dan also wrote “The Fireside Collection,” which is a new release. He has two other books in the works that he hopes to finish by spring. Dan has worked at Kmart for almost 12 years. He is the assistant manager.
Those of you who are “Dancing with the Stars” fans will find this interesting: Witney Carson is in her second season as a professional dancer on the show. Last week was the ninth of the season, and she and her partner are still in the competition. Her dad, Tyler Carson, graduated from Jackson Hole High School in 1988 and lives with his family in American Fork, Utah. Witney was a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2012 and finished in the top six before being eliminated. She was selected as a troupe dancer on “Dancing with the Stars” in March 2013 and was promoted to professional dancer for season 18. She has several relatives who live in the Jackson area, including grandmother Cindy Carson.
Thanksgiving lunch will be served at the Senior Center of Jackson Hole at noon Thursday. The lunch will be compliments of First Interstate Bank for people 60 and older. Folks younger than that pay $8. Call 733-7300 to reserve a seat.
More good things coming from the senior center: Nov. 21 is Friday Feast day, which means no charge for lunch for seniors. At a “Winter Shoe Talk” following the meal, information will be given on high-tech shoes that have soles that won’t freeze in low winter temperatures. Sports Authority will have a display of winter shoes and Yaktrax. Representatives will be at the senior center to answer questions and offer coupons for $10 off on purchases totaling more than $50 and $20 off for purchases of more than $100. Only 100 coupons will be available. People can use them for any item in the Sports Authority store.
Yes, you all know that Pippa Middleton was getting a dance lesson at the Wort recently. Pippa, the 31-year-old sister of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, was filming a test segment for NBC. She may be a correspondent on the “Today Show.”