Jenny and I decided to take advantage of the above-freezing weather and resulting runoff from snow melt to take a drive out to Cole Run Falls. Jenny does not recall ever visiting these falls, and my first visit was just a couple of months ago.
On my first visit, we did not yet have TruckStor V, so I took Newbaru the Subaru (Outback). The setup was similar that day–some rainy weather and above-freezing temperatures had melted a lot of the snow we had at the time. I knew the roads back to the falls would be dicey, but Newbaru handled them well. I figured today would be the same, maybe easier since TruckStor has beefier tires and more clearance.
We arrived to find that the road back to the falls had a large, partially-frozen snow bank now blocking it from the connecting road. There was one car parked off to the side of the connecting road, a small little car clearly not capable of crossing the snow bank. We figured they had hiked down to the falls. The road itself was snow covered, like last time, but I could see snowmobile tracks in it, and it was not deep. OK, TruckStor, let’s take this thing! 4WD activated, a couple of nudges into the snow bank to knock it down a bit, and then across we went. Yeah!
About 100 feet in, we were sliding sideways and the wheels were just spinning. The snow wasn’t deep, but it was in that stage where it was just compacted frozen snow, which turned out to be rather poor for any sort of traction, regardless of beefy tires or four-wheel drive. Tire chains would have been nice, but I don’t have any tire chains. This is a one-lane road at best, with ditches on both sides, so we couldn’t turn around, and I really couldn’t imagine trying to back out in these conditions to the earlier section where we had more traction (and with enough control to make it back over the snow bank). We are committed now, so if we are going to get stuck, let’s at least go see the falls. We made it to the upper parking area without getting stuck in a ditch, so we put the truck there and walked down the small hill to the lower area and trail back to the falls.
Jenny and I ran into the couple who had hiked down from their small car. They were just leaving as we arrived. I made my way down towards the base of the falls, but I could not get as far down as I did last time. The ice conditions this time were a good bit worse. I figured I could get down, but climbing back up in ice is usually the harder thing to do. I did get a good bit down and found an angle I hadn’t shot last time I was there. Jenny walked up the trail above the falls a bit to get a view from up there. While we were there, a group of guys showed up who looked like they were on a run. They were hopping around the rocks and fallen trees like people who aren’t worried about breaking an ankle. I remember days like those…. 🙂
When we were done, we made our way back up to TruckStor, and then TruckStor really had to prove its worth to get us out of there. 4WD-Lo engaged, second gear to help avoid wheel spin, and off we went back up the road. Keeping the tires moving helped get us out, though we were a little all over the place on the way back up. We got towards the end where we had better traction, and a little bit of speed got us back over the bank and onto the clear road on the other side. Woohoo! Thanks, TruckStor! It’s been a while since I’ve had a 4WD vehicle in actual crap conditions, so this helped to rebuild some confidence and remember driving skills I haven’t used lately.
We finished off the day at Laurel Hill State Park nearby, where we found an empty pavilion to shield us from any rain, and Jenny listened to a podcast while I played a little with my new amateur radio HF setup and tried to do a Parks on the Air activation. My activation was not successful due to a technical issue that kind of derailed me right at the start. By the time I had it fixed, I missed a bunch of contacts, and the bands started to fade. When they were good, though, I was hearing Texas, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and several European countries. Next time!