Monday, June 28, 2010

Today's Adventurous Jeep Road

We're not going to be in Breckenridge long this trip, so I wanted to get out and enjoy the mountains this afternoon. We headed up over Boreas Pass, a nice gravel road that we've travelled many times before. We turned off to look at the Selkirk National Forest Campground near the south fork of the Tarryall River. We retraced our steps and found another road to the Tarryall River and decided to see if it lead over the mountains back to the Breckenridge side. The road started pretty much like most jeep roads, calm at first, then getting rockier where you had to be careful where you put your wheels so you don't bottom out. We were doing good . . . until . . . we came to a place where you went up before you went down and you couldn't see what you were doing. Then we weren't moving . . . stuck!

The front wheel had rolled over a steep hole, the center was bottomed, and the passenger rear tire had no traction and just spun.

Our jeep has a winch, but the Trailblazer doesn't. We were wishing for the winch!

We tried rocking it back and forth and while we got a little movement, the hole in front was too large to roll the tire back up.

Henry jacked the car up and put rocks and fallen wood to improve traction - no go.

We had started such that with no problems we should have gotten back to the main road on the other side before dark, but it was late enough in the afternoon/evening that I was concerned that the other travelers might have already gone home. It was obviously a well travelled road - lots of tire tracks. I knew the worse case scenario was that we would spend the night in the car on the mountain. We had water, sweaters and jackets, and a car for shelter. But I hadn't brought snacks. We would be hungry, but we'd be OK.

We thought about trying to hike back to the campground, but that was quite a ways back.

But I couldn't help hoping and praying that some one would pass by, someone with the right equipment or experience to get us unstuck. I could hear planes overhead. Henry thought he saw mountain goats on the nearby peak. And then I heard it, the sound of engines - not a plane in the air, engines on the ground moving our direction. YES! It was two young men on motorcycles. The working solution - they got on the back bumper and jumped up and down - forcing the back tires into contact with the ground. Sigh . . . we were unstuck, but the very next area had another tricky spot - one very easy to get stuck again. Carefully avoiding the tree on the right and the stump on the left and the bigger hole farther to the left, we made it through the muddy water crossing. The next stretch was a very steep uphill - 4 wheel low in low gear, the Trailblazer had no problems with that part.

Once again we were doing good. But then there was this snow drift. We'd crossed several that had appropriate tracks through them going fairly fast so we wouldn't get stuck. But this snow drift blocked the road with only space for motorcycles to follow the road. There was an alternative route through the trees, but it was narrow - with a big stump in the wrong place. In our first attempt we hit the tree on the right. We backed up and Henry tried to put some wood around the stump so we make it over. No . . . stuck again.

We had cell signal here and I got hold of Debra so that someone would know where we were and if we didn't get back in a reasonable length of time, someone could send the calvary to us.

We knew the motorcyclists were coming down behind us, so the contact with Debra was just for good measure. We waited. More wood around the stump and once again two young men on the back bumper rocking the car. Yes . . . past that part. But we had at least one more obstacle to get through - a bog where we could possibly get stuck once more. Our faithful motorcyclists stayed with us. By this point I would hardly call this path a road - dodging big rocks and deep ruts we bounced along. We sailed right through the blog and the next muddy stretch.

The motorcyclists assured us that we could make the rest. It turns out one of the used to work for River Mountain Lodge and lives next to the Resort Quest manager that used to be in charge at River Mountain. I told them that they were guardian angels for us this evening. They told us that they just couldn't leave until they knew we had gotten past the places where we could get stuck.

When we finally got to the gravel road at the Blue River area, I started texting Debra so she'd know we were back in civilization. As I texted her, she called me . . . the Melton telepathy at work. In short order we were back on a paved road and back at the condo!

Now - I'm unlikely to ever take that particular route unless I have the jeep with better ground clearance and winch, or 4 wheelers that are light enough to push out of trouble, etc. But I am so grateful that God always provides for us when we get ourselves stuck somewhere. We've never yet been stuck out in the middle of nowhere having to spend the night in the car unprepared. But next jeep road trip - I'm packing more water and snacks . . . just in case there is a first time to be stuck overnight.

By the way, while we were eating our dinner back at the condo, the front desk called. Andrew, the Resort Quest director, had called them to make sure we had made it home ok. Even far from home, God places us in good hands with caring people.


Brady Cartee said...

The Trailblazer is a rugged SUV but I wouldn't recommend it for serious off-road adventures. As you experienced, it didn't have a winch like your jeep that could help you get out on the mud hole. In terms of off-roading, it's better to have it but not needing it, than to need it, yet not having it. Nevertheless, you were lucky that you managed to get out of that tight situation.

Mary Ann Melton said...

I agree - we added the winch on the jeep for just this purpose. Funny thing though - we've used the winch to pull other people out of situations more than we've used it for ourselves!