Close calls of a different kind

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Close calls of a different kind

Postby plantmandan » Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:47 pm

This is a spin on the recent post about close calls in the mountains. Have you ever had a close call while traveling to/from the mountains? I am rather spooked from a close call on my way home from a hike this morning and am VERY, VERY grateful to be safe. Here it is:

I went for a solo stargazing hike along the South Fork Lake Creek Road off Hwy 82. The hike was just right. The sky was mostly clear with no moon, and a recent rain really brought the forest to life. I felt invigorated and returned to my car at daybreak just as other hikers in the parking lot were preparing to start the trek up La Plata Peak (same trailhead).

As I drove North on Hwy 24 back towards Leadville, I saw police lights in the distance heading South towards me. Not just one police car, but seemingly every officer in the whole county. I slowed down and pulled over as much as possible, but the shoulders are quite soft on that stretch of the highway. Moments later, a white vehicle that was obviously the target of the pursuit sped (really fast) right by me. For one brief, intense moment, my eyes locked onto the face of the driver. We were separated by only a few feet. It sent chills down my spine.

As it turns out, only minutes earlier this person had fired shots at a cop that tried to pull him over for speeding and took police on a long chase through several towns that are launching points for many 14ers. It's a miracle this did not end worse.

Once again, I am very grateful to be alive today. It all happened so fast. Moments like this can happen anywhere, anytime, not just to hikers and climbers.

Cheers and happy travels, everyone!
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby JROSKA » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:01 pm

Just the other day, actually. We were heading out to Castle Peak last Tuesday afternoon for an early Wednesday summit attempt. As we headed west of Idaho Springs on I-70, an afternoon rain shower slickened the road considerably. I have 2 brand new tires on the rear, so I felt reasonably comfortable, but still slowed down a little bit. As I looked into the rear view mirror, I saw a car right behind me, in a full spin-out and unable to gain control. He would spin one way, then the other, and was all over the road and the shoulders. For a split second, I thought his car was going to flip, but he was able to avoid that. We saw him run off the road and down into a ditch. After observing another driver pull over to provide assistance, we kept driving. I was very thankful that . . . A) I had just purchased two new tires, and B) this vehicle was behind me when he lost control, rather than beside me or in front of me.
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby Winter8000m » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:26 pm

Driving back from the Snow Cap traverse. Many stressful hours on the go. I carpooled with Steve from the Elbert area. I drove back at 3am from our meet up spot..metal music on full blast (Only kind of music that helps)...sunflower seeds..slapping myself..sticking my head out the window.I just wanted to be in my bed! Getting on I70 and it was a long drive back. I fell asleep and woke up right before the highway bent the other way. I don't know if many folks have slept at the wheel but it's very scary waking back up. A stupid thing to do....should have just pulled off and slept a bit...which I have done several times since then....

And then there was the time that my partner and I were almost to Telluride for an ice route. He was so tired he put diesel in my car at 6 am while I was asleep. We were stuck there. It was a Sat and nothing was open in the town. No ice climbing and no driving.

"Dude, I think I put Diesel in your car!"

I was so pissed.

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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby SteveBonowski » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:43 am

My worst close call came some years ago when I was leading a CMC hike off the Lost Park Road; first left turn off US 285 at the west base of Kenosha Pass. I had my left turn signal on and there were 2-3 cars slowing down behind me, one of which was part of our group. Before making the left, I just happened to look in my side mirror to see an incredible jerk passing all of us at high speed. Had I not looked, I might not be here to make this post as he would have hit me right in the driver side door. Needless to say, I laid on the horn. Of course, it did no good as the a-hole just kept on speeding west.
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby zdero1 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:09 pm

Last year after a climb of Huron Peak a truck was tailgating me for awhile and as we approached the tunnel near Idaho Springs heading east on I-70, several cars slammed on their brakes. I also aggressively braked to prevent a collision, forcing the tailgating truck to swerve onto the tiny shoulder on the left. Of course as he passed I got the middle finger. My introduction to the crazies on I-70. Glad no one was hurt. I don't understand why people feel the need to make it a race back to Denver as traffic is always so congested on Sunday afternoons on I-70. ](*,)
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby Scott P » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:58 pm

Have you ever had a close call while traveling to/from the mountains?

When I was a kid we were driving back from Escalante when my dad hit a deer that shattered the windshield. We went off the side of the mountain and travelled maybe 100 feet (?) before the car rolled over.

Once I was driving the Trough Road, which crosses the Gore Range when a bear jumped out in front of me when I was driving along a cliff. It was a close one.
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby oldnews » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:46 pm

Leaving Aspen via Independence Pass a couple of years ago where the road is just barely wide enough for two cars with guard rail on our side and zero shoulder. Suddenly a motorcycle came around the curve way too fast for the conditions, leaning clear out with the driver's head completely over the yellow line in my lane. There was nowhere to go and no time to do anything but hold my breath. He cleared it, but before I could breathe a sigh of relief here came his buddy. There couldn't have been six inches between head and bumper on either guy. Needless to say I was punchy the rest of the drive.
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby rking007 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:39 pm

I've had the unfortunate privilege of being witness to two accidents and being the first responder on both however they are not mountain road related (but I'll tell them anyhoo). First time I was heading home from Nebraska on I-76 in a pretty bad winter storm and just outside of commerce city a large passenger van came rolling through the large grass median right at me like a boulder out of the darkness. It rolled five times and was on a head on collision course with me and I knew that if I had made a jerky swerve I would have just slid right into her so I edged off the highway at about 50mph and gouged my car up onto the frontage road. When I got out of my car and looked back the van was just finishing it's final roll into the slow lane onto it's now flat tires. I ran over and looked in through the driver side window and saw a lady crumpled over to her right across the console. I yelled to see if she was okay and all she could muster was a low guttural and painful "Noooooooooo..." I almost had to smash the passenger side window out but the little triangle side window was bent out and I could unlock the door by reaching inside through it. There was no one on the highway either. At any rate, I climbed inside and introduced myself and checked things out, blood on the windshield but not spiderwebed, her front seat was broken off the floor and angled to the right, interior car parts and contents just everywhere... I was able to climb in between both front seats and sit on the console and just use my hands to brace her head and neck. She was crying but breathing and she had blood all over her face (illuminated by a few semi-trucks and cars that had stopped on the highway). At about that time, a truck driver came up and was already on the phone with 911. I tried to just keep her calm by talking to her and had found a blanket to cover her with to help prevent shock (it was freakin freezing and I couldn't stop shivering) until finally a volunteer fireman came to help me out and another thirty minutes later the first ambulance and fire truck.

Second time I was driving south on 83 from Parker to Colorado Springs which is a pretty popular weekend ride for bikers. My son was 8-9 months old at the time and I was just driving around with him. I, once again, was the only car on the road and up ahead of my on a pretty good curve came a guy on a crotch rocket, his knee almost touching the road it seemed. A second, third, fourth bike came right behind him and then about a two second pause and a fifth bike came into view only it wasn't turning at all. It tried last minute and then it hit the shoulder and the rider went straight over the handlebars at I would guess sixty, seventy miles per hour. She looked like a floppy gingerbread man with her legs and arms out in a perfect star shape, the bike following her in slow motion. Finally she came down arm first and just rolled and rolled. Her bike, when it hit the ground, exploded into thousands of pieces of twirling plastic and parts. I pulled right over and ran over to her. Her bike was leaking every kind of fluid and some of the hoses were still flipping around squirting. She on the other hand, was just laying there, it was like the whole world (except my screaming nine month old) was silent. I though for sure she was dead. Her left hand was completely broken and angled in a very not correct way. I started talking to her and she stirred. I immediately told her not to move no matter what. I helped her open her face shield and once again got around her and stabilized her head and neck. She said she couldn't feel anything and that freaked me out because I didn't know what to say but I think I reassured her that help was on the way. I didn't have to wait long for a few cars to pull over and someone called 911. We talked about moving the bike out of the way for the emergency vehicles because there was gas. She kept saying her arm felt funny and she knew her hand was broken. My poor kid was crying harder than I had ever heard him cry and he actually cried himself to sleep. Finally (oddly) another volunteer fireman arrived before any other emergency vehicles and after they all got there, they told me I could go.

So needless to say, I am terrified of motorcycles and drive like a grandmother in the snow now (for the most part).
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby bearcat » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:28 pm

After climbing Boundary Peak in Nevada, I decided to take the mountain pass road leading to California as my way out. I reached the pass with not much incident, then turned my 4 wheel drive off, and put my truck in 1st gear to slowly creep down the road. Not long after, I reached the first hairpin turn which was more of a "V" than a "U." My truck couldn't make the turn and I stopped my truck at the edge of the road with the front driver side corner pointing at a several hundred foot drop off. In a knee jerk reaction to quickly get my truck away from the edge and pointed down road, I threw my gear shift up two notches thinking I was putting it in reverse and stomped on the gas. My truck lurched forward. I quickly stepped on the brake -practically standing on it- and with all the weight of the truck and forward motion, the truck kept going and going. I really thought I was going over the edge. After a few seconds of panic, the truck stopped at an awkward angle. I looked at my gearshift and I was in drive. I forgot I had put my truck in 1st gear before starting the descent. I got the truck straightened out and pointed down road and then proceeded to shake uncontrollably for about half an hour.
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby Chicago Transplant » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:57 am

Maybe not quite as dramatic as a high speed pursuit, but driving back from a hike on the Castle Creek Road (the paved part, going 40-45mph) I noticed a rather tall aspen start to move and slammed on the breaks as it fell across the road right in front of me. had I been going 50 I might have been hit by it. Luckily it only blocked 3/4 of the road and I could drive around without needing to saw it out of the way.
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby MtHurd » Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:07 am

JROSKA wrote:we kept driving.

:lol: :lol: :lol: So long sucker! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Close calls of a different kind

Postby Dave B » Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:43 am

Interesting topic.

My best was when moving from Atlanta to Portland (Oregon), I'd decided to drive the whole way with a Uhaul in tow behind my Ford Ranger 4X4.

On day 3, I'd planned to spend the night somewhere near Lander WY, the weather had been atrocious all day, windy and rainy which makes for an exhausting drive. As I got to the state park near Lander where I'd planned to spend the night, I found the road to the campsites were under construction and traffic had been rerouted up a dirt road along a hill side. I drove past the "Trailers not recommended beyond this point" sign more concerned with getting to camp and cracking a beer than anything else. As I made my way up the dirt road it steepened and narrowed substantially. I got to a point where I had to put it into 4 low just to keep making progress, I hadn't driven with a trailer much so the idea of backing down the winding road along a cliff was not an option, it was onward or nothing.

Eventually I got to an upward spot that I had to give it everything my truck had, even in four low my tires couldn't keep traction against the weight of the Uhaul. I hit the brakes and even with all four wheels locked, I began sliding backwards, my heart jumped and I hit the gas, the wheels spun but my truck and trailer continued backwards. Due to the angle of my truck and the slope of the road, the trailer started swerving to the left (towards an abrupt cliff). I couldn't stop my truck from rolling backwards and the idea of jumping from out and kissing my vehicle and all worldly possessions goodbye came closer and closer to being the only viable option. Then, all of the sudden, my truck stopped. It was probably 5-6 feet from the edge of the road, but at the time it felt like inches. I spent the next hour slowly backing my truck and trailer down the road as night settled in.

This wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done, but this was the closest I ever came to a Darwin award. The drive had been so crappy and I just wanted to be done for the day, sometimes I guess we just need to sleep in the pullouts on the highway.
The mountains - whose summits reach or exceed arbitrary thresholds for elevation and prominence - are calling and I must go.

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