It's been a while since I've hit the local home trails.
I always seem to breathe more deeply when I'm under the deep green canopy of the Olympic National Forest. The Western Red Cedars, Douglas Firs, Western Hemlocks, and and Sitka Spruces make up The ONF, giving it the title of highest density of giant trees in the world.
As the snow falls and the complimentary winds pick up, it's as if the Sitka and the cedars hug you in, shielding you from any storm that may pass through.
Did I paint a lovely enough picture to make you want to join me on a hike there?
I checked the WA Trails Association as usual, and the Olympics were looking surprisingly hike-able for a January day! Off we headed toward Mount Townsend, a route that's usually a snowshoe at this point, but it seemed the last trip report spoke of a clear summit. En route confirmed this as the drive towards the mountain showed 90% green with little spurts of white.
Gaining elevation on the thin, sinuous forest road towards the trailhead meant a mix of snow and bare pavement, but still a smooth albeit slow commute.
One mile before the trailhead parking lot was when things changed.
The entire road was covered in white compact snow and ice; but at this point I had to keep going forward or BACK down, as the forest road is 1.5 cars wide with a steep drop off on one side. There's no maneuvering a turn around on this section of the drive.
A final turn and slip of the wheel did me in.
Off the side and into a ditch went my right front wheel.
All kinds of stuck.
The snow under the car was high and compact enough to have both tires lifted off the ground and spinning.
Cue: Snowfall. Lots of snowfall.
Because why wouldn't that start on a super clear, sunny day when I'm stuck on a sketchy trail?
I let Fin out and went to grab my chains and shovel, when I realized I didn't have them.
I had recently returned home and emptied the ENTIRE car with the intent to deep clean it.
No gravel, no shovel, no chains.
WHAT A FOOL I WAS!
Just Fin's blankets and my day pack. The only saving grace was that this included my snowshoes and gloves.
Using my snowshoe to pull the snow out from underneath the car, throwing sticks down for makeshift traction, checking my no-signal phone in hopes of some signal, and spinning rubber. Over and over and over again. I couldn't help snapping at Fini a few times as she was prancing around, digging, play-bowing and huffing that I wasn't tending to her play needs.
Then I realized I should be doing exactly what she's doing.
I began to dig. Pulling up any lose dirt I could to place around the tires seemed to be helping, but it still wasn't good enough.
One more play-bow by Fin and I remembered my Lululemon yoga mat in the car. RIP mat, as I grabbed my pocket knife and tore it in half to place under the front, stuck tires.
That little extra traction did the trick!
12 attempts, 3 hours, a short-lived snow storm, and mud-covered us later, we were free!
A painfully tricky turn around and down the, now snow-covered, forest road we went back to more solid ground.
I opted to end this adventure with a sea-level hike down the road.
Mount Townsend can wait until Summer.
Moral of the story: ALWAYS take the time to check your preparedness.
And if nothing else, always carry a yoga mat.