2012-03-27 47 -121
A couple km from the Crystal Springs campground on I-90, exit 62.
The hash point is about 3km out from the campground proper. It's pretty snowy up there. Planning to go up and play it by ear...I'll shoot for camping and midnight if I think I can sneak a tent out closer to the spot, but it may not work too good. Depending on the relevant conditions and signs, this may be a triumph, a simple tag-and-come back, or a three-hour-round-trip failure.
Did I mention it's going to be night time, and my phone-slash-GPS has bad batteries?
I headed out soon after work. My oh-so-understanding fiancee had a fully stocked backpack waiting for me when I dropped by home; a quick stop to get a new sleeping pad (and a thermometer just for kicks) and I was out the door. I arrived at the site sometime around 10:00 PM, more than enough time to hike two miles, right?
So it turns out that the Crystal Springs campground is actually two parts: The campground itself (closed for the winter), and this massive snow-park lot where you can rent snowcats, and has trailheads for snowshoeing and maybe even skiing and dogsledding. I'm not quite sure, it was dark. What it did require was parking passes that you couldn't buy at the site. I figured I could give it a shot anyway, and strapped on these fancy traction things that go over your boot like chains on a tire. It turns out that, no, they are not functionally equivalent to snowshoes when the snow is several feet deep. Sadly, I can't even claim MNB on this one: It was a clear "not going to happen" from when I arrived on-site.
Disheartened, but not terribly unhappy because it was still a neat place, I turned around and started to leave the parking lot...and promptly wound up in the one corner that was snowy instead of well-groomed gravel. Whirrrr. Tires spun. Got out and pushed. Tires kept spinning. Pushed the other way in reverse. No dice. Yeah, it was too steep to go backwards, about twelve feet forwards to solid ground, and full of slush holes in between. I'd pretty much abandoned the hash at this point (as well as attempts at geocaching, since I had no reception to look them up), and resigned myself to spending the next eight hours alternating between pushing the car and resting to get my muscle strength back. It's a long walk back to the road to call a truck, and there's no people anyway--the exit is basically just campgrounds, and nobody sane goes camping in the middle of the night in winter. That's all the exit was, too: A couple campsites. Closed campsites. Actually, that's a lie, a garbage truck came by...at the far side of the camp. It ignored the long honks and the guy frantically running waving two flashlights.
I got the car to move a pretty fair distance, actually! Rocking it back and forth + stuffing a towel under one tire for traction + tossing a weight onto the gas pedal, attached to some twine so I could yank it off once the car started moving, got me halfway there. Unfortunately I only had the one towel, and the other materials I had on-hand (piles of cardboard, old ratty shoes, etc) failed to help the other tire. So close. I really think I might have made it with a second towel. But after the aforementioned eight hours of no real sleep, I decided to call it quits: My muscles were utterly destroyed (let's face it, pushing a car out of a hole = lifting a car, inclined ramp or not) and I was covered with bruises. I made the trek back to the road as the sun was rising... and just as I reached the highway, I met the guy who rents out the snowcats, on his way in. Friendly guy. Gave me a ride back up and called a tow truck for me.
One hour minimum fee means that getting towed ten feet set me back an awful lot of money. I'm getting AAA again. At least the trip back was uneventful...and by "back" I mean "back to the office". Dog help me, I haven't had more than an hour of sleep all night.
| Traveller earned the Train wreck consolation prize