The weather was supposed to be cold Thursday night so we waited until Friday morning to leave. Besides, we were too busy Thursday night finishing up the camping trailer we had purchased the week before to follow the Jeep around:
I wanted to camp at the primitive campground in Cathedral Valley, at the north end of the park. I researched the area as well as I could online, and we headed down. There were several roads leading into the valley, but only one coming in from the west. Since that's the direction we would be coming from, that's the way we headed.
As we started onto the dirt road it started heading up into the mountains. There started to be a bit of snow in the road where it was always in the shade. We crested a hill and looked out on a small valley, with quite a bit more snow in it. Pat was a little bit concerned about the road continuing up in altitude, but we'd been through snow before without any problems, and I urged him to keep going. After all, it's all just part of the adventure!
We got halfway through the valley when the left side of the Jeep suddenly fell into a ditch that was hidden under the snow. We were stuck. Snow was up to both axels on the Jeep. There were plently of rocks around, so we tried wedging some under the tires to get some traction. No luck. Pat realized that in packing the camp trailer for the first time he had forgetten the shovel. Out high lift is also slightly broken and not completely safe, so we didn't have that either.
We broke out the stock scissor lift jack that came with the Jeep, placed it on some 2x4s we had brought for firewood, and lifted the front end. We got it to lift the tires enough that we were able to get more wood and rocks underneath so we could get more height and traction. We lowered the Jeep, tried to go, and... nothing. Still stuck. We decided that we needed to try and get more traction under the rear wheels too, so we started jacking up the Jeep again on the left side. Then the jack broke.
At just about that time, I happened to look over and saw a truck at the top of the road leading into the valley. Pat hiked over to talk to them. They weren't so sure about driving though the snow to get to us, but they decided to go ahead and try. They got about 30 feet down the road and then they got stuck too.
At this point we pretty much gave up. I hiked up the closest mountain and found a spot where I could see a bit of the town below. I got two bars on my cell phone, so I called for help. When the tow company got there, they were able to get the truck out within a half hour or so, but there was no way their wrecker would make it though the snow to get to the Jeep. They went back to town, loaded up some four wheelers, and came back up.
When they got back to us, they and Pat shoveled out the Jeep as much as they could. One of them hooked up to the trailer and got it out of the way. Then they got their four wheelers stuck in the snow so that their winches could pull us out instead of pulling them to us. We finally got free of the snow! Now all that was left was making it back out of the valley. The tow guys were pretty worried about us making it back up the hill. They told Pat to gun it and make it as far as he could so that if he got stuck the wrecker's tow cable would hopefully reach. They didn't need to worry... Jezebel (that's the Jeep's name) was a champ and just drove right out with no problems!
We hooked back up to the trailer (which we have named Oliver) and followed them back to town. By that time it was midnight, and we had spent a total of eight hours stuck. Our bill came to a whopping $450. We are still hoping that insurance will pay for it because I certainly don't have that kind of money laying around.
Pat was pretty tired by this point and he just wanted to give up and go home. However, I hadn't spent five hours in the car for nothing. I was going to stick it out and see what we came to see. We continued on down the road and pulled into the main campground in the park. There were three spots open so we settled in for the night. We were so tired that there was no way we were putting up the tent. We grabbed sleeping bags, folded the back seats down, and cuddled up with the pups for the night.