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Hypothermia Run

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The snow had a VERY thick crust, but under it the texture was that of fine sand. You could scoop up some in your hand and watch it sift through your fingers. The trick was staying on the top layer. A couple of times I had to stop and work at it a few times to get back
on top; drive forward, sink in, reverse. Drive forward, sink in, reverse. Repeat as many times as necessary.

We were blessed with incredible weather, mostly clear skies and a bright sun. The temp during the day was only in the 30’s, but it felt warmer with the sun on our faces. We made great time up the road, covering the same distance in just minutes that took us hours the last time we were up there in the snow. We all shared the hope that we would be able to get to the top, usually not possible until the snow melts in June.

All was going well until we came across a huge crater in the snow, where someone had been stuck and had to dig themselves out. It looked big enough to swallow my Jeep whole, so I attached a tow strap before going in. Amazingly, the snow was fine and I was able to power through it with no problem, as did Ian behind me. Then Michael got stuck halfway out of the hole. Ian and I went back to investigate and help, and quickly discovered that the front wheels were not contributing to the cause.

“Try 4-wheel drive, Michael,” we both said, chuckling.

Pause.

“Uh, it is in 4-wheel drive,” replied Michael with grim realization.

First task was to get the Jeep on level ground so we could figure out exactly what was wrong. It took a few good tugs to get Michael out of the hole. After a few minutes, we discovered the vacuum-disconnect line had been torn off when he dropped into the hole. Easily fixed, we were back on the trail after only a few minutes delay.

We were now on totally virgin snow; no vehicles had been up here since before Christmas, and a month of heavy snow had all but erased their tracks. All I had as a guide were cross-country skiers’ shuffle marks and a scattering of footprints to guide the way.

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