Settling into a routine seemed to be going well as we traveled. We would awaken around 7:30 and get dressed, take Moonlight for a walk, drink coffee, eat an English muffin and maybe some cereal or eggs and then pack and secure items inside the trailer for the day’s drive. This past Saturday began no differently and we started out from where we’d spent the night at Muncho Lake. Heading towards Fort Nelson, we kept seeing cars and trucks coated with what looked like frozen, brown slush. We knew what it meant deep down inside but successfully ignored it until after we fueled up in Fort Nelson. The coatings were becoming thicker and covered a little bit more of the surface of the vehicles.
As we climbed into the hills, we started rolling through patches of wet gravel that froze, quickly covering both truck and trailer with the same brown, icy mess. We started to relax a little since we’d figured out the mystery. We stopped for more fuel in Buckinghorse River, which had a cozy-looking cafe. Sue said she wished we could stop and park the RV’s and have a hot meal but the Milepost indicated that there was an RV park at Pink Mountain only 30 miles away. Why not just keep driving and stay the night there instead, says I. I mean…what’s another 30 miles? Plus, it’s not very late in the afternoon. So, onward we went.
We had been warned about Steamboat Pass and how rotten the weather is this time of year and well into the spring, so when we successfully traversed that one we thought we were golden. Not true. We hit snow well about the time we got to the Royal Lodge and asked about staying the night but they had no room at the Inn, so we continued on up the mountain headed to the next available shelter, Pink Mountain Campsite. As we toiled up the last hill approaching the campground, we lost traction but grabbed hold momentarily and crawled up a few feet before squirreling all over the road as tires found ice under the snow. Sue, who had been behind us holding her own, was in danger of being knocked into a slide if we lost it and hit her on the way down, so I radioed her to go around us. Robert was driving and told her not to since he was afraid he would hit her from the way the rig was skittering over the highway trying to find a tire-hold. This moment of conflicting direction was enough to halt Sue’s forward advancement and she lost traction and stopped. We did as well but also began to slide backwards down this freaking mountain. Backwards. I thought we were going to die. There was a sudden stop as we bumped into Sue’s rig. I’m convinced, even if Robert is not, that that is what saved us from dying in a mangled, steaming heap at the bottom of that hill.
Robert and Sue both had their feet planted on their brake pedals, any jolt could dislodge us all from where gravity and maybe a pebble had us. We were in the middle of the highway, blocking traffic. Not for long, though. Cars, many pickups and semi trucks began to weave their way around us. Most of them were oilfield workers and it was Thankgiving weekend for the Canadians, so everyone was in a hurry and we were in the way, dammit! Finally, one guy pulled up by us and asked if we needed help and Robert explained the situation. This man, who’s name was Adam, had a dually flatbed which he positioned in front of us and proceeded to put his chains on, slipping and sliding as he moved around his truck and back and forth to check on us and Sue. I was terrified that we were going to get slid into by his truck as he backed up towards us to hook a chain up to us and send us back down the mountain, but nothing happened. I prayed and kept my eyes shut tight as he pulled us about 750 feet up to the top of the hill and into the campground parking lot. That’s how close we were to the top! Adam was going back down to get Sue when we heard her on the radio saying she had just been hit by a semi. Thank god she hadn’t been sent crashing down but she had been sideswiped and had damage.
When Adam towed her to where Robert and I were at the top, we saw that her awning had been broken and was half hanging down towards the ground, she had a busted window and the aluminum rain gutter crimped over the top of her side door rendering the door useless, among various other damage. Robert secured spots for us to spend the night at the campground and I walked Moonlight around to where I guessed we would be parking. The snow was deep, I was having a little trouble walking it but this wasn’t registering. So when we drove along to find our spots, we got stuck in the snow, ice and mud that made up this campground driveway. Robert went to find a manager or maintenance person and came back with good news and bad news: the good news was that they weren’t going to charge us for the night’s stay, bad news was that the maintenance guy wouldn’t be in until morning. We had power cords snaked out to where we had become mired by the camp worker, and we were just glad to be alive and warm for the night.
In the morning we had a visit from Wade and Joey, who were up for the challenge of trying to pull us out. Wade is the tall, thin Head of Maintenance for Pink Mountain Campsites and Joey was a not so tall and not so thin oilfield water truck operator. After a few tries and a huge bump, Babe and The Electric Igloo were free! We had gotten our hindquarter hung up on a stack of logs, which made it pretty much impossible to get ourselves clear of. They towed us up to the high point of the park and we eased our way down to the front parking lot, where we had mustered the night before. Soon, Sue joined us, and we set to the task of making her rig roadworthy again mostly by removing parts and stopping up the airflow through her window. Also, Robert and I were starting to think our pipes may have frozen during the course of the cold night.
We got underway and were very happy to find the road no longer slick with ice, but had warmed to wet slush once more. Not wanting to tax ourselves or the RV’s we had a short day and I called ahead to see if the Northern Lights RV Park was open, which they were not, but since they lived there and had had their Thanksgiving dinner the day before, they would keep an eye open for us after we found dinner. We stopped for pizza and went to find the park, and what a park! So clean, not too big and not too small but just right…Goldilocks style. The one rule that was most strictly admonished was no outside shoes allowed in the washroom area. Because it is clean. The cleanest public style restroom and laundry I have ever seen, ever. It was worth every penny and the plentiful hot water helped to sooth our feelings about the previous night’s adventures so much that we stayed to recuperate for two nights. The roads were fully dry and safe today. There is heat, there is food, Robert fixed our water, we are okay once more.