Dave Panebaker, 1970-1975

Crater Lake National Park Centennial Oral Histories

Dave Panebaker, 1970-1975

I started working at Crater Lake as a seasonal interpreter in June of 1970. Four of us lived in a cabin in Sleepy Hollow. During the regular workday we did a variety of interpretive duties: boat tours; Annie Cr. Walks; Discovery Point Walks; Garfield Peak Walks; evening programs at the Lodge, Community Center, and Mazama Campground; children’s programs; roving interpretation at the rim; Sinnott Memorial geology talks. On my off time I’d ride with the patrol rangers. We did rescue practice on the rocks above Sleepy Hollow with Ranger Paul Crawford. A boy fell below Sinnott Memorial and we located him during my afternoon boat tour. We stabilized his head and spine and transported him up the Cleetwood Cove Trail to Peace Ambulance from Klamath Falls. On the way into the hospital we had a flat tire. The boy made it ok. In August while hiking in the Bear Valley area I located a human skull. The chief ranger wasn’t real happy with me when I talked to him in his office and pulled the skull out of my pack and put it on his desk! We figured it could have been the pilot from the F-6-F Hell Cat that crashed in the area in Dec. 1945. A Whidbey Island naval investigative team came to the park a few days later. We found the instrument panel from the F-6-F and located a small piece of paper still taped to the back of it. The paper was part of documentation for an instrument alignment (compass) and it contained the aircraft serial number. By identifying the aircraft, they determined the name of the pilot, 22 year old ensign Frank R. Lupo. His dental records were located in St. Louis and a positive ID was made on the skull. His family finally had closure with their missing son.

The 1971 season had similar duties as the first. I believe this was when they airlifted 2 new tour boats into the lake. They were build by Rudy Wilson and were from Portland. A Chinook helicopter did the airlift. It occurred one morning and I believe they staged the operation from Discovery Point. During this summer many of us took first aid training in the evenings from Richard M. Brown. He was an excellent instructor. One day he and I were driving around the Rim Dr. to Cleetwood Cove. At North Junction I noticed that he was having a little difficulty driving. He pulled over and started shaking. Unfortunately he never told any of us in his first aid classes that he was a diabetic. He was going into insulin shock. We found a candy bar that he quickly consumed and all was ok. I gave him heck for not telling me about his condition. We continued to Cleetwood Cove, hiked down the trail, and launched the park’s motorboat. We went to Diller’s pin and painted it white to protect it from rusting. It also made it more visible so folks could see it on boat tours. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

The 1972 season was the best of both worlds. Bruce Kaye and I split an interpretive position and a protection division. Bruce did 2 days protection and 3 days interpretation. I did 3 days week protection and 2 days a week interpretation. In those days it was easy to fill a protection position. A park policeman would instruct a few days of law enforcement training. You would go out to the range, shoot 50 rounds, and if you had an acceptable score, you qualified. Then you were given a citation book, and the rest was OJT from more experienced Rangers. During the summer the garbage dump was shut down. The bears hit Rim Village and Mazama Campgrounds really hard. Mike McCullum was the bear technician and he was busy. I believe we moved at least 12 bears out of the park. The culvert trap got lots of use and many bears were darted. We were using sucosterin for a darting agent. One day Mike and I were moving 3 bears approximately 100 miles outside of the park. One bear was in the culvert trap and 2 were tranquilized in the bed of the pickup truck. As we were driving through Union Creek we noticed that people were pointing at us. We waved at them. Finally we looked at one of our passengers in the pickup bed and noticed that one of the bears was sitting up like a dog in the back of the truck. Mike pulled over, gave the bear a little more sucosterin, it went down, and we continued on our journey. We finally got to the release site which was by a creek on forest service land. The bear that was in the culvert trap took off as soon as the door was opened. We left the other 2 in the shade by the creek.

Then we started the journey home. We were headed down a hill on a gravel road and all of a sudden we heard a clunk. We looked behind and noticed that the culvert trap was no longer connected to the truck and it was heading towards us at about 45 mph. After a few expletives we watched the trailer tongue slowly drop onto the gravel road. It finally dug in and the trailer flipped and came to rest in the road way on its side. Luckily no one was around to get nailed by the runaway trailer. We determined that the nut which held the ball to the rear bumper had come loose. I hiked back up the road and located the nut. We up-righted the trailer, reconnected the ball to the bumper, and reattached the trailer. Everything looked ok except for the frame that held the trap’s rear door was bent to one side. When we got to headquarters we drove right to the shop and Keldon Gross checked out the damage. Some heat from an oxy-acetylene welder helped straighten the door frame and green paint made it look brand new. Since then whenever I pull a trailer I check the ball and use safety chains.