Seeing as the weather was so nice, a group of 12ish VOCers decided to spend the weekend up at the Joffre Lakes parking lot unsticking cars. There’s a lot to say about this particular parking lot. Even though half of it is bare unthreatening gravel, the entrance is an icy waste of ruts and salty puddles. Around half the cars seem to be low 2wd sedans with bald tires carrying confused and anxious city people. On the other hand, there are also wannabe-dirtbags in vans, rugged old people shredding the gnar, and VOCers with a fondue problem. Anyway, perhaps more attracted than repulsed by the mixed company on offer, we set out late on Saturday to hang around the parking lot and let life just, like, wash over us and stuff.
From our first glimpse of our destination, we knew it would be a special weekend. The afternoon sunlight glimmered on the brown puddles. The sound of spinning tires soothed our tired academic minds. The car’s lumpity-bumping through the wheel ruts woke us gently from our car naps. And lo! Before us, as our carload of 5 stepped out over the puddles, we saw a parked car stuck with wheels spinning, surrounded by a few hopeless passengers.
We stomped over in our ski boots to push. Pushing didn’t work, the wheels span, and the wheel ruts got deeper. We used our avy shovels to dig out the ruts a bit and were preparing to push the car forward—when someone from our group (maybe Flo Mazel? Correction: it was Alberto Contreras Sanz) stuck their head through the driver’s window and saw that (a) they had 4wd, (b) they had not yet engaged it, and (c) actually they didn’t really seem to know it existed. So we got them to switch on 4wd, and with a bit of a gas and a very small push they popped forward out of the ruts. We all stood back, and the driver reversed out at high speed, almost killing the passenger who ran out behind the car at exactly that moment. That was a bit too exciting.
Well, all this rescuing was fun, but we decided to take a brief break for a bit of cheese, wine and skiing. We returned shortly (well, the following afternoon) to resume our duties.
Birgit Rogalla and I made it to the parking lot first, put our skis on top of the car, and settled down to wait in the sun. Two parking spots over, two people were trying to help a couple unstick their vehicle. We were too lazy to step in, but after a few moments our indifference became awkward. So when the helpers abandoned the couple, we dragged our avy shovels back out of our backpacks and wandered over. The front wheels of their front-wheel-drive car were stuck in icy, watery ruts so deep that the front bumper was propped up, and one of the back wheel was airborne. One of the couple had hands that were bloody and shaking, so he must have been stressed. Our other three car members returned, and after trying the classic push technique we started digging a bit. With an ice axe and avy shovels we dug enough space free to insert a jack. Then the car couple jacked up the front wheel and we shoved a few planks from Birgit’s car underneath and topped them with a rubber mat. After we put another rubber mat under the other wheel, six people pushed and the car came unstuck.
We left as quickly as possible so as not to be recruited for another unsticking mission. As we bumped and slipped our way out of the parking lot, two young women with a stuck car looked hopefully in our direction, but we pretended not to see and booked it onto the highway. We left them to the mercy of Tom Curran’s carload of VOCers, who (I am told) came to the rescue soon thereafter.