Driving down a winding, high altitude gravel road, memories of my early driving days came back to me. The days when I hung a stopwatch from my mirror and blasted down the gravel road on my way to school. We won’t get into the specifics, but I learned a lot about how a car handled and especially how a Subaru handled. As Jess had written already, we camped up at the Clover Meadows camp ground in the Gravelly Mountain range near Ennis, MT last weekend. As we were already on top of the high-meadow mountain range, there really wasn’t too many placed to go and hike, so we went for a drive. We probably traveled 20 miles along a very well maintained gravel road that I couldn’t help but think it would make a great set of stages for a rally race. We even ventured off the beaten bath onto “primitive” roads, seriously, they were actually labeled primitive. We had decided that we should bring the Subaru up for the weekend, and I’m glad we did. It handled the relatively uneven terrain commendably and never let us down. We eventually had our fill of poor road surfaces and high-center potential, so we turned back to the main road. I had fun sliding around the wide open corners and traversing the dips and hips in the road. We had guests with us, so I tried to reign it in a little, but little did I know that I’d be giving them the full experience.
As we were getting close to camp, I had decided that I just wanted to enjoy the scenery and decided to slow down. Also the terrain was such that most corners were blind and we couldn’t see what traffic might be ahead of us. At about two miles out, we hit a short but steep downhill section followed by a sharp turn. As we went down the hill, I slowly depressed the brake pedal and was presented with very little response. What braking we received wasn’t enough to keep us in the corner. I realized that all the downhill breaking from the double 10% grades had overheated my brakes. I then chose to drift the corner to scrub off some of the speed, but in the process of transitioning the car sideways, my camera slid from next to Jess in the passenger seat and hit the gear lever into neutral. Just before that I had gunned it to make sure we had enough power to correct the car once it pulled through, too bad it left us pointed straight at the inside corner of the turn. Before we knew it, we were driving up the bank that made up the corner and the car did what I can only describe in snowboard/skateboard term, a 50/50 front-side grind that somehow ended with us coming back down the embankment and pointed towards the outside edge of the corner. At which point I counter-steered hard right to pull us back on track.
So here we were, coasting to a stop on the high altitude road. I knew full and well that this could have ended in a much different way. Now I write this not to boast about my driving skills. I am a competent driver with some good experience on dirt/gravel roads and some technical driving. However, I don’t believe the outcome was solely based on my skill alone, but by a good and gracious God who came to the rescue. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and probably won’t be the last. We drove, slowly, back to camp with nary a word spoken, making the time seem far longer than it was. As the car came to a stop, I couldn’t help but smile stupidly, apologize for the event and thank the Lord for his help in this, potentially fatal, incident.
Please enjoy the pictures below! (click on the thumbnails to enlarge the image)