Subject: I ALMOST DIED TONIGHT
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 02:32:52 GMT
From: Doug Sanderman
Remember me. I posted a question about riding in powder snow last week.
Well I'm here to tell you that tonight I did a very stupid and foolish
thing, and I'm very fortunate to be alive.
I'm posting this note as a reminder to others so they can learn from my
mistakes. And I think I broke just about every rule of riding a
The story goes like this......
I got home tonight a bit early. As it was only 4:30, I told my wife that
I was going to just hop on my sled and just go back the main trail
behind our house for a little scoot before it got dark. (We live in the
country). The trail goes for about six miles back in the woods on an old
logging road and is well packed from me traveling over it and it
eventually leads to the groomed trails maintained by the local club.
As I was only going to be gone about twenty minutes, I didn't bother
with my snowmobile pants, and just kept my blue jeans on (no long
underwear underneath), and put on my jacket, a bomber hat, a pair of
baffin boots and a pair of ski gloves.
When I got about half way back, I decided I would bear off the main
trail and check out a trail that I hadn't been down since last year. I
had no trouble breaking a new trail and the sled stayed up on top of the
snow pretty well the whole way even though the snow is about 3' deep
(and deeper in other places). This trial I new, would come back on to
the main trail about 2 miles down the road. What I had forgotten about
was that about 3/4 of the way down this trail is a steep hill with a
downward slope that goes for about 150' and a fairly sharp bend at the
bottom of it. I got down the hill with no problem, and as I rounded the
bend there it was. A large spruce tree had fallen across the path. Uh
oh. No way out of here but back up the trail that I had just made. But
to no avail. The machine would only make it about half way and spin out
on the hill. So, what do you do? Well, by this time it's pretty well
dark, in the middle of the woods, so I thought I'd drag the sled around
and take a couple of tries at the hill before I faced the inevitable and
started to walk. On the second try up the hill, it happened. When I spun
out, I grabbed what I thought was the front bumper to pull the sled
around, and ripped the front cowl right off the sled which of course
unplugged the headlight. TOTAL DARKNESS.
So time to start hiking. The only way I followed the path in the dark
was to keep my one hand in the groove that the ski had made plus I had
another problem. Waist deep snow with blue jeans on. Didn't take long
for those puppies to turn into a couple of stove pipes. Solid ice. Hard
as a rock with bare legs underneath! I hiked for a solid two hours, in
waist deep snow, sometimes on my hands and knees, when a friend finally
came looking for me.
When he showed up, I couldn't move my legs to sit on the back of his
sled and I was totally exhausted. I AM CERTAIN THAT HAD HE NOT SHOWN UP
THAT I WOULD HAVE PERISHED WITHIN TWO MORE HOURS.
As it turned out, my wife had noticed that my cell phone (which I
usually take with me) was on the kitchen counter and she had the sense
to phone someone when I didn't show up for supper.
I apologize for the length of this letter but I want you guys to see how
easy it is to turn a 20 minute joy ride into a near disaster. They say
that people who freeze to death are usually found within three miles of
their home! I finally arrived home tonight at 7:45. Three hours of a
very frightening and humbling experience.
So what did I do wrong?
1. I didn't dress appropriately.
2. I didn't give exact details of where I was going.
3. I traveled alone.
4. I didn't take my cell phone with me. (A habit I have always
maintained except this once)
5. I didn't take my survival pack. I didn't even have a flash light.
If anyone wants to add to the list, I'm sure there's more ...
The part that surprises me is the fact that I follow these rules. Except
this once because I was hasty and thought that everything would be O.K.
for a "short trip".
Feel free to put this beside your door and read it as you're about to
My deepest thanks go out to my wife Linda (who has kept an eye on me for
the past 20 years) and to my friend Adrienne. I owe you one.
P.S. We're supposed to get 10 cm. of snow tonight. If I didn't make it
out, they probably wouldn't have found me for quite a while.
This story provided on this site by Karl Shoemaker
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