17 May 2010

Family Canyon Trip - Snow, Fun & a Pileup!

The canyon we did was great - Angel Cove Canyon!

Gettting there and getting back was heck though. Vail Pass was closed driving out, so we had to take the South detour over Fremont Pass to Leadville, then Tennesse Pass to Minturn where we connected back to I-70. Luckily the passes weren't bad.

I mention only one canyon because it rained early Sunday morning. Bob, Leila & Garrett left, then it started snowing. As we were 10 miles from blacktop, we got decided to get out while we could.

Except for the driving, everyone had fun. The kids really enjoyed the slides in the canyon and playing in a big sand dune afterwards. Leila had some fun of her own!

We salvaged Sunday w/ a hike at Fisher Towers. The towers are amazing! We saw a climber summit the thin corkscrew tower. This tower is called Ancient Art. Click on the picture for a larger view. You'll see the sheen off the climber's helmet.

We were lucky driving home. Between Copper Mountain & Frisco, it was a blizzard of horizontal snow and a whiteout in places. A westbound driver waved us to slow down. I couldn't see anything ahead but I started carefully pumping the breaks. Then we saw the problem. A semi had jack knifed across I-70. Cars were piling into each other, right & left of us, along the sides of the road to avoid hitting the truck. Of course, this left me to drive the ever narrowing funnel - which ended at the semi. Nowhere to go but forward - unless I wanted to pile into the cars along the side of the road. I thought I should have stopped 1/4 mile earlier so I must have been sliding quite a bit. I was focused on stopping and that I did - 15 feet in front of the truck. I yelled for Mia & Julia to get their coats and shoes on because we were bailing out of the truck before someone crashed into us - from behind. Luckily Mia saw a pickup threading it's way around the semi and through the ditch to the safe side of the semi. We followed and parked - breathing a sigh of relief. Then we got out to help others. I've never felt so helpless. Parents and kids in shock - walking around barefoot. A woman dropped a cell phone in my hands. She could no longer hold the phone. 911 was on the other end. I tried to describe the 40 car or so pileup and it's location, when the adrenaline started to subside and I started shaking. We helped the family back into the car as the EMTs arrived. Other people brought blankets for the family. We could have done that but were too shaken up. The EMTs had worked their way here from the uphill side. No fatalities at least. They said everyone was being cared for so we drove off - leaving dozens of wrecks in our wake. We offered rides to many but people needed to stay with their vehicles. We were the only East bound car on the road as we passed another small pileup Westbound. None of this even made the news. Too many accidents to cover on a nice spring day in May - May 2nd.

Much thanks to Dave Pimental for his writeup of this and other canyons here.

All pics are here, with a fun slideshow (only 19 pics) here!

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