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The Tinkham Road Disaster
posted by John : May 16, 2008

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Well, this ain't good

A mini heat wave boded well for the Melons' garage sale on Snoqualmie Ridge. Everything they were selling went to the 3-Day including water and brownies at Clara's snack stand. They made over $700 bucks that day, but that was what they were doing. Needless to say, I wasn't terribly interested in hanging around in suburbia when I could sneak away with Lilly, Henry, and Tokul to wander in the woods. Dan was of a similar mind so we headed east as soon as we could.

We had originally planned to go up the Middle Fork valley, but for some reason we bailed on that idea. Instead we drove east to about 2,000 feet intent on Franklin Falls. Yeah... the road ended at the same place they stopped plowing it during the winter. It'd take another five or six days of 80F+ weather to melt it out.

On the other side of the freeway was the Asahel Curtis Nature Walk that would be perfect for the kids if we could get there. Unforunately, there was snow blocking the way just off the freeway ramp. However, it looked firm and not too far to cross especially since we both had capable vehicles.

Dan drove up onto it and immediately sunk his front wheels in. Since his back wheels were still on the dirt he was able to back out. No problem. We could walk from here or go back to the Weeks Falls just a few miles west.

Except that Dan tried again, got all four wheels into the snow and then sank. Reverse sent huge plumes of snow into the air, but little else. Pushing was futile. Bad news.

But good news: I had a little shovel in the truck for my adventures in the Hancock Forest where it was a requirement for access. While Dan did some digging (with only one shovel there wasn't much I could do) I took the girls, Henry, and Tokul for a walk down Tinkham Road. The snow was two feet deep in places and the road was bare where the sun could hit it. Water was running everywhere and the girls had fun stomping through the snow and walking Tokul.

When we returned to the car we found that Dan had dug and dug and dug some more making some progress, but then the blade on the shovel broke. Now we were in really bad shape.

I recalled my upstream neighbor was home when I left that morning and gave him a call. Jeremy agreed to come up with his big truck, chains, tow straps, and a shovel. We'd be saved!

The kids ate lunch and snacks for a while as other folks drove up, saw our predicament, and turned around before they were pressed into rescue service. When Jeremy arrived he backed up, hooked up, and pulled us out without any real issue.

While packing up a woman arrived from nowhere and asked Jeremy if he could pull her truck out. She was just down the road about where the kids and I had turned around. Jeremy's a great guy and piled all the gear into the truck and took off to be hero for the second time that day.

As we were packing up to leave Jeremy came jogging back up the road asking for the shovel. He'd become stuck, too. So instead of leaving poor Jeremy to dig himself out (especially without a shovel) Dan and I drove as far as we dared and parked both cars. Dan was in charge of the kids and I ran up to help Jeremy. Without a shovel we made little progress and after 30 minutes of messing with a come-along, rocks, logs, and half-installed chains we called it quits.

Dan was released to take his kids home. I also left for home, but only to get Lilly into napping clothes and grab some shovels before returning. When I returned I found they hadn't made much progress so I again drove as close as I dared (closer than with Dan, but not too close), put Henry in the backpack, settled Lilly in for a nap, and locked the truck. (Yes, the windows were cracked and the sunroof was open.)

With shovels we were able to get Jeremy free pretty quickly. While he put on his chains Henry and I started digging under the other truck. When Jeremy started helping we did pretty well and got to the point where she could get move at least a little. Jeremy and I got ready to push and she gunned it... and stalled. So Jeremy and I got a face full of snow and mud and the truck rolled back to where it had been.

This went on for quite a while. Unfortunately, when she did get it going she'd lose control and spin further off the road into softer snow and mud. When we'd had enough Jeremy backed up and pulled her out.

The final challenge was driving out through the snow that had originally trapped Jeremy. The best plan was looked to be going fast. Jeremy fishtailed wildly, but made it through without any real worries. Our damsel tried the same, but nearly lost it through the deepest snow before pulling it out at the last moment.

With everyone free (only a little more than four hours after Dan and I had tried to get to the trailhead) we headed west. Lilly was complaining that she didn't get to hike and she had been great in the truck while I was helping so we stopped at Weeks Falls.

The South Fork was running high over the falls (more a cascade than a waterfall) and Lilly was thrilled to be there in her jammies and Crocs. It was a good spot to stop since it was only a couple hundred feet from the car to the waterfall, but still brought closure to our adventure.

Even though it was just walking along the road there was snow so I guess stats are in order. The girls and I walked about a mile, but there was no gain. And now I'm finally done with the snow.

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