Alright so totaling my Subaru Forester has turned out to be one of the biggest pains I’ve dealt with in a while, but it also happens to be a blessing is disguise. The Forester was a totally rock’in car, but because I wrecked it I got an even better ride and a couple extra bucks for the road…
Right after hitting a deer with great velocity and splattering the poor animal all over I-80, I was hell bent on getting my Subaru repaired and back on the road, well after the news came back that it was totaled I was a wee bit upset. The forester represented to me a massive financial investment in addition to symbolizing a freedom I’d only come to know while having a car. With the Subaru I had the ability to travel anywhere, do anything. I could adventure far and wide explore new places, meet new people, gain a larger appreciation for the world, specifically the natural world around me.
The Subaru spawned and facilitated a variety of adventures from: road tripping, and tripping booms in the northern forests of Arizona outside of Prescott. On this trip I also brought my two bikes and did some excellent trail rides in addition to riding a pretty badass BMX track in Durango, Colorado. That trip was just around 1,700 miles total. I had numerous ventures just north of Boulder to a place called Vedauwoo just south of Laramie, WY. Here I’d scramble giant boulders, cook bacon, and sleep under an amazing array of stars. It was also here that I’d have one of the sketchier moments of 2015.
It was early February in 2015 and myself, Tyson White, and Zewek Kilonoski drove about two hours to Vedauwoo to go shooting. It was still winter and we knew the area had recently been snowed on so we decided to take Zewek’s Jeep Patriot. The drive up was quick and painless, the sky was mostly overcast making the day feel colder than it was. We arrived at Vedauwoo right around 11:30 in the morning to find that most of the back woods 4×4 trails were covered by deep snowdrifts. Well being the arrogant asses that we are, we decided to push on to a back corner of the recreation area. Within about 300 yards of leaving pavement we got stuck. We had no shovels, no real snow gear, and no change of or back up clothing. Naturally we dug ourselves out with our hands and continued on our way, because why turn back? The time was just approaching 1:00pm. We finally snaked our way through a maze of snow drifts frozen puddles to our own personal shooting range. It was here we let hell loose for a few minutes and had an absolute blast, blasting clay pigeons and other assorted items. 3:00pm approached and we began to realize that if we did not head back soon we’d be driving back to the main road in the dark and avoiding the drifts had been hard enough in the light of day. So promptly turning back toward paved roads our misfortune started. Gunning the Jeep through small drifts was not only easy but fun, the issue with something like this though is that it builds confidence. Zewek, who was behind the wheel, gunned it into a drift that we had driven through on our way to shoot earlier that day, not only did we not make it through the drift, but it also became perfectly apparent that we would not be digging ourselves out of this one. Even if we had had shovels. The car was buried up past the front axle with some snow covering the hood the vehicle. We immediately knew that we were in trouble. Each of us jumped into emergency mode, first and foremost calling and notifying a few of our friends of our location, as well as our current situation and status. One of the people we called happened to be my boss at the time a fellow by the name of John Ryan. John had survived around four nights in the backcountry of Keystone after getting lost while skiing out of bounds, John’s story is impressive but should be told by him. When John heard of our situation he kind of gave us one of those laugh snorts, where it was clear he was thinking, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me?!” John gave us a few short words of inspiration and told us not to worry then proceeded to tell us that he could not come get us, disappointment. But understandable the guy has a kid. So we called around for a few more minutes trying to raise on of our friends from nearby Fort Collins, Colorado but alas no luck. Realizing that staying with Jeep was not really an option as we had no food, no water, no warmer clothes we decided to walk out to the freeway to try for a ride and maintain better cell service. As soon as we conceived the plan of hitching a ride we had to veto it, realizing that we were three grown men carrying five guns, no stranger would pick us up. We walked to the freeway anyway hoping to run into someone with a better 4×4 vehicle who might be willing to pull us out.
The three of us trying to find another truck to pull us out of the snow bank.
On the way in we had seen around five or six other cars each of which was either a jeep or larger burly looking truck. None of these cars remained. In fact walking three miles back towards the road in the snow in our tennis shoes we didn’t see a single other person. Just the headlights of the cars on the freeway heading back towards Cheyanne. It was around 6pm when we finally got ahold of one of our friends, Parry, who agreed to come and get us, only issue was, she was over 4 hours away. After the relief of knowing we had a way out of our situation, we began the waiting game. We continued our trek to the freeway posting up in the tunnel that cut under the road. It was here we waited and fantasied about a heater for just around five and a half hours. Right around 11pm that night Parry found us shivering, but otherwise just fine, minus the fact that we were leaving Zewek’s jeep in the middle of nowhere. Focusing on getting home and warming up we but the loss of the jeep out of our mind temporarily. It wasn’t until four cups of coffee and one amazing nights sleep later when wheels started turning to recover the entrenched jeep.
Making a few phone calls I was able to arrange to borrow a Toyota 4Runner from an old friend of mine the next Saturday and just like that Zewek and I were head north again this time to retrieve his car. Upon arriving in Vedauwoo we immediately noticed the reduced amount of snow coverage and grew suddenly more optimistic about or recovery mission. That was until we saw that the jeep was still very much so stuck. The warmth from the sun heating up the metal of the car, radiating out it made the snow around the jeep melt and allowed the jeep to sink deeper into the drift. On top of that the temperatures were still dropping well below freezing at night and so the jeep was now trapped in a frozen drift of ice. Somehow still feeling optimistic, we proceeded to begin cracking and breaking the icy ring entombing the jeep. After removing a sizeable swath from in front of the jeep we hooked up a tow strap to the chassis of the jeep and to the tow point of the 4Runner and slowly started to pull the jeep out, or so we thought. The tow strap we were using snapped. The end of the strap whipped forward and through the open hatch of the 4Runner smacking the headrest of the driver’s seat four inches ways from my face. The jeep had moved less than an inch. Our hopes were immediately dashed. We could probably have dug the vehicle out entirely by hand but that was not something we really wanted to do. And just at our lowest moment, a few rednecks mobbed by us on a variety pack of 4×4 toys. Seeing the jeep in such a deep hole the group of four decide to stop and help us out. Pulling out their own tow straps, and helping to shovel an even wider path in front of the jeep we tried again to pull the jeep from its frozen grave. This time to wild success. Every time I go back to Vedauwoo I think of this story, and every time I have a car adventure I remember to pack the right gear to get myself out of any hole, whether figurative or literal.
So that was a bit of a tangent as this is supposed to be more of a eulogy for the Forester… so I’ll carry on my reminiscing. The Subaru got me to Salt Lake City and Durango on more than one occasion.
It traveled to Moab about three times. It carried bikes, climbing gear, and often times found itself topped with a canoe for water adventures on the reservoirs of the Front Range. The back of the Forester became a home away from home, a place I’d often sleep if the weather or road conditions became to extreme while driving I-70 to Summit county. The forester pulled itself up rocky embankments on the Switzerland Trail, and crawled down slick rock outside of Escalante. It brought me safely home for just over two years. Then I exploded a deer with it. What a way to end an era.
But the era of adventures and life on the road is merely beginning. A dear friend of mine just sold me his 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan, helped me build a bed, and restored my dream of being on the road for the next few months.
My names James Hansen and the next time you hear from me this sucker should be packed and ready to roll!
Cheers I’m out!