Ha. I love these stories.
Skidmo, what in the world did you have? DCB, yours is my constant nightmare - I've never had it happen, but I've also never really trusted roof racks and cringe every time the wind blows hard.
Here's mine. It's a backcountry trip, but I think it qualifies.
In March of '74, two college friends and I decided to take a winter skiing/camping trip into the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. We were all from Iowa.
This was long before telemark gear became popular, so we had rail-thin cross country skis and skimpy little cross country shoes. None of us could actually *ski* on that stuff, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea at the time.
We drove to Buffalo, WY, in my Dodge Polara (big, heavy, 2-wheel drive, REAR-wheel drive boat) and headed up a pass through the mountains on Highway 16. Gorgeous, sunny spring morning in the Rockies, right?
We reached the gravel road that led to our trailhead and there was *no* snow anywhere in sight. So rather than leaving the car at the highway and hiking from there, we kept right on driving up the gravel road through big, open grassy meadows. If this were a Greek tragedy, this would be fatal error number one.
Three miles of gravel later, we came to the actual trailhead. Parked the car, loaded up the gear, and took off up the mountain.
As we climbed, the snow got deeper and it got prettier and all was well. Sun out, great snow, wonderful trip. We set up camp in some pine trees next to a pretty lake with some beautiful untracked, north-facing glades and spectacular peaks. Late in the afternoon, we went "skiing", which basically consisted of going into the fall line on our flimsy gear, trying to make a turn any way we could, diving over the tips of our skis, doing egg-beaters in the powder, and cackling like idiots.
That night, we ate supper, planned our next-day assaults on the big peaks above, and crawled in our sleeping bags.
When we woke up the next morning, the roof of our tent was sagging practically to our noses. It had snowed about over a foot and was still snowing. Cool! Fresh, deep powder!
So, we're sitting around the campstove eating breakfast and the same thought occurs to all three of us at the same instant:
"If it's snowing up here, you don't suppose it's snowing down where the CAR is, do you???"
"Uhhh. Maybe not. There wasn't ANY snow at all down there yesterday."
"Yeah, you're right.... still, maybe we should go check?"
"Yeah, maybe we should."
So, we put on our skis, leave the camp (fatal error number two), and spend about a hour flailing down the trail to the car until we come out of the trees to the car. Sure enough, there's about a foot of snow on top of the car and there's a vast, empty wasteland that looks like the wind-blown steppes of Russia between our car and the highway.
We get the car pointed toward the highway and I start driving downward. My friends are walking in front, shuffling their feet to try to find the gravel of the road. We go this way for about an hour and get all the way to a little creek crossing a quarter of a mile from the highway. Between there and the highway is a little hill. I try to drive up the rise and bog down halfway. No traction, snow's too deep, shoveling doesn't get us anywhere. We're stuck.
The only alternative seems to be a tow truck, so we hike to the snow-covered highway and stick out our thumbs for a ride back down to Buffalo. A pickup truck coming down the pass pulls to a stop on the traveled portion of the highway (and here's strike three). One friend gets in the passenger side and I hop in the bed. As my other friend is starting to climb over the tailgate, I see a car barrelling downhill at us, wheels locked, full skid, hands clamped to the steering wheel. *Just* before she clips our rear-end, my friend gets over the tailgate and we get whacked.
Our pickup gets knocked about twenty feet and the car goes sailing over the shoulder and down the hill about fifty yards, coming to a stop in some brush and a creekbed. Thankfully, nobody's hurt, but now we've got two more people riding in the back of the (damaged) truck.
By the time all this has transpired, it's fairly late in the afternoon. We all pull into a big service station on I-25 in Buffalo and tell our sad tale. The station owner decides it's too late in the day to try to pull out both cars, so he tells us to spend the night in a motel and come back first thing in the morning. He heads up to pull the other car out of the creekbed.
We show up early the next morning (bright, beautiful, sunny spring day) and find the owner. Conversation goes something like this:
"WHERE is you boys' car, again?"
"Just up the Storm Lake trailhead road from where it meets the highway."
"WHAT were you doing there?"
"Ski camping trip."
"And you drove a TWO-WHEEL-DRIVE car up to a trailhead in the mountains in the MIDDLE OF THE WINTER???"
"Well, there wasn't any snow when we drove UP there."
Long, uncomfortable silence.
"Where you boys from?
"Damn flatlanders," he said, with the most dripping disgust I've ever heard in my life.
We hung our heads in shame.
He then tells us he likely needs to use the semi-tractor wrecker to get us out, and he thinks he'll probably need two more sets of chains so he'd have chains on all the tires. He has to drive to Sheridan to get chains that big, so we wait for an hour and a half 'til he gets back, and then we head up the mountain.
We find the road and help him put all the chains on and then he starts backing toward the car, which is just below a little rise. He gets to the top of the rise and decides he might not be able to get his truck and our car up the hill if he backs down to us. Great.
Then, he looks around and spots one pine tree. The only tree for five hundred yards in any direction. He figures out that if he attaches his front cable to the tree, backs as far down the hill as the cable will let him, and then runs his rear cable as far as it will go, it *just* reaches the car. Eureka!
The car is rescued and back to the highway. We ask him how much. We're all very poor at that point, and we're envisioning this massive towing bill.
He says, "Well, fellas, let's see. I had to go buy the chains. That took awhile. We had to drive all the way up here. It took about an hour to get you out... How's $35 sound?"
We were floored. We were expecting the bill to be *hundreds* of dollars. Paid him, tipped him, thanked him profusely, and watched him drive down the road.
Of course, at that point our trip wasn't over. We had brilliantly left our camp way up the mountain. So, we slogged for hours back up to the camp. Dug everything out of the snow, loaded up the snowy junk, and then slogged all the way back to car.
And then we *still* had to drive back across Nebraska.
What a trip.