Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Unexpected Turn Of Events

This story might not be very surprising to people in other places where it's still snowy and cold, but out here it's already spring...

So yesterday I was coming home from Portland and needed to make a quick trip to my old house to pick up a generator that I bought from the landlord. Coming home after that I decided to take a scenic route that I'd always wanted to explore.

Yes, it's up in the mountains, but there had been no sign of snow so I decided to give it a try. It was going great until I turned the bend and got onto the north side of the mountain. I was headed downhill fast when I rounded a sharp curve and spotted the snow bank right in front of me. Too late to stop I hoped that it was a quick patch and plowed right in.

It was not a quick patch. I had no chains with me and no four wheel drive. There was no way that I'd be moving without some serious help.

AAA doesn't cover me on a road like this, but they put me in touch with a local towing company that could do the work and charge me directly.

The first truck they sent didn't think they could make it through the snow and a bigger truck would not be available until morning. I assured them that I would be fine. While I was on this trip I stocked up on "show food" like a case of tuna and many pounds of nuts. I always carry my bed, a 20 degree sleeping bag, silk tights, a thick wool hat, a stack of wool blankets, five gallons of water, a fully charged deep cell battery and inverter, and more. I was fine.

Morning came and with it my salvation: a massive truck with a powerful winch.

So here's how you get a heavy van unstuck from the snow... The giant truck uses its chains to stick fast in the snow while the winch slowly drags the van uphill. Let out the cable, back up the truck and repeat.

Here's my view as I try to steer the van slowly in reverse, keeping it in the tracks of the truck.

And from this situation I have many things to be thankful for...

- I didn't drive off the road or into the ditch. I could have been injured, ruined my van, or worse. At the very least, a tilted vehicle would have made for a very uncomfortable night of sleep, but I coasted to a stop on a slope, but level side-to-side.
- I had cell service. The last place I lived was only five miles away from here and that part of the mountain had no reception whatsoever. I was able to make my rescue arrangements from inside my sleeping bag.
- The new iPhone made communicating with the tow company a breeze. I sent a text message with an accurate set of GPS coordinates. One click and the dispatcher was able to pull up and print a map that helped the driver find me in the tangle of forest service roads.

So, I wasn't happy about the unplanned half day off from my preparation of the new home site, but in the big picture of things, it's not bad at all. Yeah, I got a financial spanking. Not enough to break me, but enough to remind me to think a risk like this all the way through. I'm lucky that all I have to pay is money. It could have been way, way worse.

Addendum: a comment from Josh on my Facebook page got me thinking. One big reason why this situation ended so well is that I was prepared. I could just as easily have frozen to death. It was way below freezing that night and I ended up stranded miles away from civilization and dressed inappropriately for a hike.

Do you have emergency supplies in the trunk of your car? Why not throw in a first aid kit, blankets, warm clothes and a couple gallons of drinking water? You never know when they could save your life.

1 comment:

Phillip Allen said...

Happy endings! A rare enough thing its seems, these days. Good advices, too. Thank you!