Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Detour to Adventure

Living remotely often has its set-backs;  flooding rivers, snow storms, and mudslides to name a few.

After several weeks of record rainfall, one big snow storm, several freezes and fast thaws, the earth could take no more.  A mudslide with large trees gave in to gravity and covered both lanes of the main highway this week.

I was on my way home with groceries when I came upon the road block.  The state patrolman said it would be two to three hours before they could open the highway.

Having lived out here for nearly twenty years I knew of a forest road that could get me home - albeit 45 minutes out of my way, but might as well be driving than sitting at a road block.

Like an old pioneer, I'm prone to stories about the old days, in this case, the slides of 98 - 1998 that is.
I was living smack-dab between two of the biggest slides they'd had in this area.  So big in fact that the whole area was closed for over two months.  They were unable to clear them for fear the hills would continue collapsing.
People don't sit around and wait for anything for long out here.  Soon the locals began traveling the forest roads.  These gravel, often one lane roads are mainly used by forest personnel, hunters and hiking enthusiasts.  Needless to say the only road to and from civilization became a grid lock at commute time.  Well, not like in the city, but you get four cars each way and a herd of elk and you've got grid lock!

Back to the present.  I called a friend from my cell phone before I set out on my detour adventure into the hills, just to have a human to check in with on the other side - because there is no cell service up there.
She reminded me there could still be snow, so I was grateful for the tip.  
It's about 45 minutes total time, but about a third of that is a nice stretch of highway that winds around a big lake with fabulous views of the mountains.

Now I'm at the forest road turn off.

No problems, looks good to me.  Off I go in to the wild green yonder. 
The road is two lanes for a while, then becomes gravel, narrows, but there are places you can squeeze past oncoming cars.  I always try to be the one who pulls over and lets them pass.

This is where it turns into one lane.  This is also the last photo I shot of the road.  I dared not take my hands off the wheel or pull over to shoot more pictures after it got rough.
There was snow and ice and only the worn tire tracks of previous vehicles to follow along in, but it wasn't deep enough to get high centered on.  I at least had the smarts to put the car in AWD mode.
Lots of mud and slushy areas, but nothing really serious - I don't think, by now I was operating on survival mode.

After some white knuckle driving I passed some cars coming from the other direction, so at least I knew it was open all the way.  I had to remember to breath, but this was inspired by some breath taking views of the forest, streams, and non-snow covered areas where the gravel road meandered through the wilderness.

At one point I saw a huge red tail hawk (I think) fly up off the road in front of me.  I fumbled for my camera and only got this shot of him flying out of the left side of the photo - while the car was still moving.

I made it out and back on to the highway, just north of my house about 45 minutes later.  I pulled over to call and check in with my friend now that I had cell service again.

I have to include a photo of my car once I arrived home.

Of course our four-wheelin' buddies would laugh at that sight, but for this middle aged woman it was a big adventure!  Needless to say a trip to the car wash the next day was in order.
All in a day in the life of a New Pioneer I guess.

By the way - it took them four hours to clean up that mudslide.  I made it home in less than an hour and have fresh milk to prove it!


  1. Good for you!

    Sometimes we have to take a little detour in order to get where we need to be. :)



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