I looked at my wife dozing in the seat next to me as we started up Wolf Creek Pass. We were traveling to our home in Durango and hoped to arrive by morning. That meant that I would need to drive through the night over the mountain passes. We were just thirty minutes west of the village of South Fork when the snow began. First, there were large, feather-like flakes floating gently to the pavement before me. They melted on impact. As our car continued on up the pass, the storm intensified. Snow, blown by the wind, whirled around our car engulfing us in white. The headlights of oncoming cars were dispersed by the snow making it even more difficult to see the highway. The car ahead of me swerved and slid to a stop blocking my lane. The pavement was becoming slick! I slowed down and put on my emergency flashers to warn cars approaching from the rear of my presence on the road.
The car ahead of me corrected its position on the road and continued on its way. As our car caught up with it we, too, spun out. We were approaching the top of the pass. The drop-off beyond the guard rail was at least 200 feet. Even as I contemplated that, I noticed that car tracks crossed both lanes of the highway and led to a break in the guard rail. Someone had slid out of control and had gone over! I gripped the steering wheel with “white-knuckles.” How could my wife continue to sleep under such conditions? My car snaked around a couple of turns, then suddenly, inexplicably, our car began to slide toward the rail. I was not a man of faith–far from it–I ridiculed the idea of a Supreme Being as the invention of fearful and weak minds. However, in this moment of almost certain catastrophe, I called out, “God!”
My car slowed in its progress toward the guard rail, and the death that waited beyond it. It came to a stop crosswise of the road, but safe. I was able to pull out of the slide and continue on our way. We reached the summit of the pass and began the switchbacks of our slow, treacherous descent.
(To be concluded.)