Monday, December 29, 2008

Leaving Coyote Buttes via House Rock Valley Road

This is part 4, see my previous three posts for the complete story.

Unique rock formations at Coyote Buttes

Contrails over Coyote Buttes

Orange rocks, white snow and blue skies - what a beautiful combination

These rock formations ended up being my favorite for this area

No one around for miles and miles

It was approximately 4PM when we pulled out of the parking lot at Wire Pass Trailhead. Now parts of the House Rock Valley Road lay in the shadows. Some of the snow that had softened today in the warm sun, and melted under the friction of tires, had now transformed in to slick and shiny icy spots. We had about an hour or so of daylight left. We were glad to see that there were still two vehicles left in the parking lot, at least we weren’t the last ones to leave. Then, a few minutes down the road we passed a pick up truck going the other way, I noticed the graphics on the side of the truck, I think it was a ranger. He pulled over in to the deep snow so we don’t have to leave the road, that was nice. He also gave us a weird look. He was probably amused that we were out here on this road driving this car. I'm sure the Illinois license plates explained it all -tourists.

There were many rock formations here that looked like huge bun cakes with sugar glazing

At 4PM the sun was hanging low on the horizon

A few minutes later we approached the first big hill in the road. But we couldn't make it to the top. The tires were spinning out just as we got near to the top of the hill. Mike backed up the car all the day to the bottom of the hill and tried climbing it again this time with a little more power. Just as we get close to the top of the hill the front wheels lost traction again. Mike backed the car down the hill again and gave it even more gas this time. We are almost up the hill when the tires slid out and now we were stuck almost sideways in the middle of the road.

The only animal I saw today was this jackrabbit

We both got out of the car to examine the situation and we both almost fall on the ground as our legs tried to get traction on the icy road. The pictures don’t show it but the road was pretty much iced over. Mike got back in the car and tried to straighten it out but the tires are spinning us further sideways. And the ditch wasn't too far way. Since we have no sand or kitty litter, no shovel we just stood there contemplating our situation. We only stood there a few minutes before the ranger pulled up behind us. He said he wasn’t surprised to see us stuck. He had a chain and was going to try and pull us up the hill. If that didn’t work he’d have to call a tow truck. I crossed my fingers that the chain would work. Once the Acura had the chain secured on, the pickup took off and up the hill the car went. I was still standing in the road, trying to walk up the hill when I fell down. It was really slippery here. I could barely walk on this road.

Getting stuck

Looking down at the hill we got stuck on - you can kind of make out the ice in this picture, but trust me, this whole road was iced over

Rescued by a ranger with a tow chain

Ready to try it again with the help of a 4X4 pick up truck this time

Past the slippery hill the ranger said that he’s try to tow us on to the main road but driving the Acura was rather difficult while it was still connected by a chain to the truck ahead of us and the ranger was driving way faster then we wanted to go. A few minutes later the ranger's truck stopped. He got out and told us that he would prefer to disconnect the chain and just follow us to the main road. That was better for us also. We got going and the going was good. At this point we only had about 6 or 7 miles to go. Everything was going great for the next 4 or 5 miles until we drifted in to some deep snow and got stock again.

Stuck again - this time it was the deep snow that did us in, not ice

Getting towed for the second time today

Finishing up House Rock Valley Road with the sun setting behind us

The ranger truck pulled ahead of us again and for the second time connected the chain to the Acura and towed us out of the slick spot. Then he disconnected the chain and continued to follow us. We finally made it to the main road, waved our thanks to the ranger, who was still behind us. It's a small world, the ranger that helped us used to live in Fort Collins when he attended Colorado State University here.

We turned on 89 heading south and the ranger also turned on to the road. I would have thought that he’s turn around and make sure the other vehicles make it out of there. Maybe patrolling the road and making sure all the hikers are out of there by night fall isn’t his job, maybe we were super lucky to run in to him. What would have happened had he not come along? Yes, boys and girls, we were very lucky indeed and this experience had us thinking that maybe if we choose to be so adventures in the Acura we should at least have some snow chains. Everything is good that ends good. A few hours later we were back in Sedona, worn out for a long day and a little bit sore form the hike, our cheeks and noses rosy from the sun. Today was a great day and not one I’ll forget any time soon.

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