Lake Easton State Park, WA

It’s Saturday, early afternoon. The sun is shining outside and daylight is being wasted. Let’s do something. Mom, Dad, James, and I get ready, eventually, and set off in the Xterra. It’s a bit last minute, but we’re gonna go see some snow. Do we need a shovel? Nah.

We drive South on 405 and East on 90. We haven’t even driven an hour and we’re surrounded by trees and mountains. Living in Seattle is pretty great. Our first stop is Snoqualmie Pass. It’s literally freezing cold outside and snow is piled high around us. We walk around the crunchy snow and submit to my Mom’s insatiable need to take pictures. We drive around past some cabins and head back East on 90. It’s starting to get dark.

The Xterra handled the snowy roads so well and I’m gaining confidence in its abilities. We exit the freeway and turn into Lake Easton State Park and past the park ranger booth. Here, the roads are a bit more snowy, but it made no difference to the unstoppable Xterra. We get off at the parking lot and walk towards the lake. For some reason, the lake is not a lake anymore, but it’s a stream. By that stream, on the snow covered lake bed a long ways away from us, there’s a campfire and some people shooting off firework. It’s probably illegal to camp there, but it’s so cool. That was a fun way to spend an afternoon, let’s go home.

On the way out of the park, a snowmobile trail crosses the road we’re on. It’s not plowed, but it’s groomed and wide enough for the Xterra. My Dad jokingly said we should drive down the trail and I really wanted to see what the Xterra could do. Let’s do it! We turn up onto the snowmobile trail, and about 20 feet in, we decide to go back. I throw the Xterra in reverse and start backing out the way we came in. I wasn’t off road for long, but it counts right? Adventure is adventure.

The Xterra is just three feet away from the road and it sinks down and stops. I apply more gas, but that just spins the tires and the Xterra digs in deeper. I shift to 1st gear to see if it can go forward, but all it does is spin the tires. The forward right wheel and the rear left wheel are spinning. I forget what that’s called in off roading terms, but I remember from a YouTube video that it’s a bad thing for cars without locking differentials. Since my Xterra has open differentials, the torque is distributed to the free spinning wheels and not to the wheels that have traction. It’s pretty stuck and I try sawing at the wheel and that doesn’t help either. We dig out some snow from behind the wheels and gather some branches to put under the free spinning tires for traction. A shovel would be really nice right about now.

Down from the path are a group of snowmobilers coming our way. They squeeze past the Xterra in disapproving silence. Some time passes as we’re struggling to free the Xterra when the park ranger shows up to help us. He’s making his final round before closing the park and he’s pretty annoyed by us probably. With the help of the park ranger and another passerby, we eventually push the Xterra out of the snow and back onto the road. Finally, we’re out and we can go home. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the Xterra stuck in the snow. Darn it! Now my blog post retelling this event will be bare and without photos of the event. Here’s how I would have captured it, imagine with me.

(Snowy trees in the background all around and it’s dark. The main road goes from the near left off to the far right. On the left is the Xterra facing away left down the snowmobile trail, just three feet off from the main road. The Xterra is buried about 8 inches deep into the snowy trail. To the right, on the side of the main road, is the park ranger’s F150 with flashing blue/red lights.)

A picture, in this case, is worth 75 words. Time to buy some Maxtrax.

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