March 17, 2010

The Cadillac as Off-Road Vehicle

Another story of someone taking a wintertime short cut through the mountains and almost ending up dead. This time it was Louis Rogers, well-known in the Country & Western music field as a guitarist and session musician.

This line caught my attention:
After about nine miles and with dusk setting in, the road got too snowy for Rogers' 1996 Cadillac STS, which was loaded with musical equipment, so he decided to turn around - and got stuck in a snowbank.

And I flashed back to when a friend of mine and I, both about 25 years old, went deer hunting and decided to take a short cut in my 2WD Ford F-100 pickup.

Headed for the Western Slope, we decided to take the little gravel Weston Pass road from South Park to the upper Arkansas Valley near Leadville, cutting off some highway miles. It was October, and conditions were mostly dry.

But there had been a little snow a few days earlier, and on top of the pass I hit a patch of remnant ice.

Before I knew it , the truck was headed into a steep creek bed. Then I hit a boulder. So the good news was that we were not upside-down in the creek. The bad news was that a front leaf spring (driver's side) was caught on the small boulder and going nowhere.

We got out and looked at it. We had no come-along or anything to anchor one to if we did. (Off course, this was the pre-cell phone era.) It looked like our trip was ruined.

Then up the west side of the pass came a Cadillac sedan with a man and his teen-aged son in it. They had a two-way radio but couldn't raise whoever was at the other end. After some commiseration, they went on.

A while later, a local guy in a 4WD pickup came along, and he had a tow chain. A few minutes later, my truck was off the rock.

But what we remembered was the Cadillac driver's response when my friend Ed expressed some surprise that it was their hunting vehicle:

"Wah, we always hunt in Cadillacs.


Galen Geer said...

Chas, I don't remember if you were with me and the guy who was my outfitting partner for a couple of years when we had to help some guys off the mountain. To get their truck back up on the road after they slid off we had to use two bumper lifts and build a bridge under the left two wheels. Took us all afternoon and when it was over turned out they owned a company that made camp cook equipment and they sent us a whole camp kitchen as a "thank you." Here in North Dakota you may not slide off the side of a mountain but every winter someone slides off into a slough and eithers drowns or freezes to death. A survival kit in the trunk is an absolute for winter survival. A car can slide ten feet off the road, by in knee-deep snow and have cars passing ten feet away but the snow is so blinding it can't be seen and the knee deep snow will keep the person trapped because they can't open the door. Three inches of snow pressing against a door is a death sentence if you can't roll down the window and climb out. galen

Holly Heyser said...

Nice! I love it when an irresistible headline is followed with an equally irresistible story.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Galen: I remember you telling me the story, but I wasn't there in person. Was that the guy who made the all-in-a-box chuckwagon-style camp kitchens?