Stuck in Snow

No, not in a car. On a snowmobile. Yup, stuck. It happens if you go off-trail into dense woods as the snow turns to mush. It happened to us.

It started out fun. Two maneuverable little snowmobiles, heading out from Jeff’s camp on a spring-like day with him in the lead. I grew up on snowmobiles and I’ve driven this one a few times. What could go wrong? Hehe! I haven’t worked so hard for my recreation in years. See captions below for the full story. (Disclaimer for my stoic Nordic friends who avoid the “feeling and emotion” stuff: confessional included below! 😉 )

Jeff got a little Elan several years ago when his powerful big machine proved more than he needed. He got a second one last year so we could go out together. Snowmobiling is big business today in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, home to more than 3,000 miles of trails. We had snowmobiles when I was young, though we weren’t well-off. But I haven’t done it in decades, until recently–and have rarely gone off-trail.
Jeff decided, in his usual impromptu fashion, to explore off-trail. OK, I told myself, he knows these woods. They woods got denser and denser. We had to drive through trees this close many times, sometimes driving over them. Jeff pulled out his little handsaw twice to saw through obstructions. We drove over logs and ducked under branches, leaning constantly in order to maneuver, sometimes planting both feet on one side to lean harder. You heat up quickly doing that so I stripped clothing as we went. We both had to rescue our hats, tugged off by branches. Then thirst arrived. Expecting a short trail ride, I didn’t have a water bottle so succumbed to eating snow. (I dug deep to get the cleanest stuff. Like when I was a kid.)
As the snow got softer and deeper, we got stuck more often. It’s a small machine and easy for Jeff to pull out. But I’m a 5-foot tall woman…rugged in many ways, but with limited strength (especially when frustrated)…so Jeff had to pull out my machine more than once too. When we were in the thickest part of the tangled woods with no clear passage, I tried to help by scouting ahead on foot. But walking in deep snow is even more tiring than maneuvering a machine through it. I then tried on my hands and knees, which is easier but slow. I began to worry. What if Jeff’s sugar levels drop quickly (he’s a Type-1 diabetic) from all this physical work and I have to get out by myself to find help? He had glucose tablets with him, and l felt foolish for doubting him. But I was still grouchy about what I considered his lack of foresight and planning until we turned around, retraced our steps, and pulled out of the thick woods and mushy snow. I left Jeff behind as I drove back aggressively, confident in our now-well-worn track and eager to dry out. (I was soaked through to my butt from sitting in snow.) I’m not proud to admit that I steamed silently for several hours until I got perspective on the whole thing. We were laughing about it the next day, but I learned a few things. I do love winter sports and exploring, but this? Hmm. Maybe in my 30s, but I’m closing on 65. I have nothing to prove about my risk-taking chops. I’ll leave this kind of fun to Jeff and his buddies…
My preferred way to enjoy the snow is silently, like sitting in my adirondack chair on the snow-covered shore of Camp Many Moons as the “Worm Moon” rises over the frozen bay and solar lights reflect on the snowbanks. The full moon in March is called the “Worm Moon” since the 1760s in reference to a sort of “worm”—beetle larvae—which begins to emerge from the thawing bark of trees and other winter hideouts at this time of year. (We haven’t seen any worms yet, beetle-like or otherwise.)

3 thoughts on “Stuck in Snow

  1. I remember the growing concern when encountering a situation that could be life-threatening. Mind racing, heart pounding, exhaustion and then, yes, fear. But I never gave up. And neither did you! I’m glad you made it back to warmth and safety. I married an adventurous man with a mind of his own and I have a list of crazy things he did with me in tow. I must have been crazy to follow, again! But now I carry my own water, bring my house keys and my car keys as well as my mobile phone.


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