Six years ago, en route from Boston to San Francisco on my so-called Great American Roadtrip, I visited the Grand Canyon’s southern rim.
Shortly after arriving at the national park’s east entrance, I spotted a sign for an off-road trail. I’d bought my Subaru Forester a year earlier and I hadn’t done any hardcore driving so I figured why not give it a try.
I maneuvered my Subaru through the dirt trail, following the existing tire tracks across a muddy expanse and into a section of snow. The snow surprised me, as it was April and I forgot of the high Tucson altitude, and I momentarily braked.
My SUV stopped.
Growing up in Boston, I know how to drive in snow, so I used my experience by turning the wheels and trying to rock back and forth. No luck.
“Shit!” I muttered to myself, realizing I was stuck in snow and not going anywhere. I was a half mile from the main road, all alone, and had a hotel reservation that night in Las Vegas. I grabbed my portable shovel and started to dig.
I began to worry. Knowing the trip back south to the interstate would last about an hour, and the sun was starting its downward descent, I knew I had to rush. But I wasn’t going anywhere!
An hour later, as the sun dropped to the horizon and I was still digging, a Michigan family of four in a Chevy Suburban arrived behind me. They had made the tire tracks I had followed, and had returned to admire the deer somewhere ahead in the snowy mass. I didn’t have any ropes or chains, nor did they, but the father dispatched his teenage son to help me break off branches to act as tire guards.
I wasn’t moving.
Shortly, two park rangers in another Chevy Suburban appeared. One of the men walked toward me.
“Do you need assistance?” he asked me.
I pointed to the mess I was in. “Yes, please,” I said, adding I lacked ropes or chains.
The ranger walked back to his vehicle and returned with a chain. I attached it to my rear hitch and was suddenly thrust backward like a roller coaster.
I was given the thumbs up and attempted to turn around to head back to the main road when I got stuck again in a snow/mud mixture!
Again, I was pulled backward.
As I profusely thanked the rangers and drove away into a fading day, I spied the Michigan family driving on in the snow.
The moral of this story is don’t brake suddenly in snow, or the damned ice will stick to your rubber tires!