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In Search of SB2C-4 Helldiver - Buno. 82858
Story and photography by Timothy Cox

    Now I had everything in order for the two and a half mile trail blaze though the Vermont wilderness. It had been a while since I had practiced my orienteering skills but I was hoping they would come back fast enough. The plan was to do the hike in one day. Drive up in early morning, hike up to the site by noon, spend a few hours looking it over and hike back out and drive home. Sounds easy enough however things did not go as smoothly as I had planned.

    We headed out at sunrise and drove the three hours to the parking area that accessed the wilderness area that contained the crash site. We started out and everything seemed to be going well. I soon realized however, that I was a moron for wearing shorts and not pants. This fact would become more and more painfully clear as time went on. The area was covered with fern growth that obscured the forest floor completely. It covered the downed branches, the rocks, holes and every other hazard the forest contained. The worst was a plant that had glass-needle like spines that would stick you and cause some serious irritation for about 20 minutes.

    We had been hiking for about 45 minutes when I noticed that the dial on my compass had been knocked out of the original bearing and we'd been hiking in the wrong direction. Fighting back panic of the thought of getting lost, I tried to keep my composure. I was also afraid Aaron would panic or end up trying to kill me if I got him lost in the wilderness, I guess the trust he showed in my I did not want to lose. Ok, maybe it was a bit of pride I did not want to lose. Anyway, I compared the heading that we were taking to the map and counted the number of ridges we had climbed I was able to surmise the general area that we where. I had split the hike into two legs; the first leg was from the car to a pond. The second leg was from the pond to the crash site. This was to help minimize the margin of error that might come into play as we hiked. With our new heading and a bit more wisdom gained off we went. Starting at that point I verified the bearing on the compass before picking the next landmark to walk to. When we found the pond a great sense of relief came over me. We had recovered from the mistake and found our first destination.

    On the map the pond is shown as a very defined area with a shoreline that would make navigating to one of the inlet streams easy. The reality was the pond was 80 percent marsh, 20 percent open water. Before we could head to the crash site we had to figure out where on the pond we were and where we need to go. After trying to identify features of the pond I was able to take some headings from two hilltops to pinpoint our location. We made our way around the pond and set off into the woods for our mile plus hike. This leg of the hike was going to cause me more stress and create more challenges in regards to my skills of map reading.

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