Spun the trep this last winter
Can't believe I never wrote you guys about this one.
Mid-April in northern Minnesota is often a time of freak weather.
During the 2012-2013 school year, I'd been going to college in Duluth, MN, a desolate lonely little industrial town in the middle of effing nowhere. I was attending the College of Saint Scholastica, a fine institution, but I frequently found myself desperately lonely and bored as hell, so I made a point to visit friends, family, and my fiance in the Minneapolis area as often as I could. The trip down was usually a nice drive, 160 miles on interstate over long rolling hills and through beautiful pine forests. However, on the midnight return trip to Duluth following a very enjoyable weekend visit, I encountered some very unexpected weather...
It started innocuously enough, just some moderately heavy rain. As I ventured north, the rain became heavier and heavier to the point where my wipers just couldn't keep up. I could still see the road between swipes, however, so I wasn't phased by it. Then I hit massive fog, which made the situation significantly more tense. The fog was terrifyingly dense, and I drove leaned forward in my seat with my chin on the steering wheel, desperately trying to eek out every last inch of visibility. After twenty miles or so the fog abated, and I was able to relax, certain that the worst was over...
Then I hit the snow. This snow was not ordinary snow - this was clearly winter trying to put a few more poor souls to rest before yielding to spring. The snow fell in unbelievable quantities, and you could tell just by looking at it that it was wet and thick. The snowflakes, or rather snowclumps, were absolutely massive, probably 2" in diamater, and within minutes the road surface soon disappeared under a ghostly sheet of white.
I was horrified at what was taking place, and I soon found that I had ZERO grip. Even after slowing to 35, the back kept stepping out, and then stepping back out the other side when I would correct. I couldn't see the lines at all, and I had no point of reference, no means of discerning where the road ended and the ditch began. I did my best to find the center of the two lanes, slowed to 25, and bravely soldiered on, still fighting to keep the car going in a straight line.
Then, it happened. I lost grip in a big way, the back stepped out left - I corrected, but perhaps a little too much, and she swung violently around to the right. I let out a terrifying "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHH-" as I careened backwards down into the steeply banked median, finally coming to rest facing perpendicular to the roadway. I tried to drive out, but the wheels just spun and spun. I tried pushing with one leg while accelerating, and succeeded only in throwing mud all over my jeans. I gave up and sat back in my seat, shaking and trying to catch my breath.
This was a big one - I'd probably slid 100 feet in the mud before finally coming to a halt. My thoughts turned to what lay on the other side of the roadway... the steep ravine leading down into thick forest. The idea of how nearly I'd come to sliding down there instead of into the safety of the median weighed heavily on my chest. I'd been incredibly lucky. Pushing those thoughts aside, I collected myself and called for roadside assistance... it was time to bring in the heavies.
The tow out went fine, although the towtruck driver was unbelievably pissed off at having had to come rescue me. Couldn't blame him. Despite my certainty that something would've been damaged in the slide - the front suspension, the steering, the alignment I'd just spend $70 on, some of the front trim - nothing at all was damaged. Drove the trep to class the next day and it was absolutely fine. Again, I'd come up roses. Unbelievable.
I don't put too much stock in the idea of a higher power, but I do know that things easily could've gone much worse for me. I don't know exactly why my Intrepid was kept out of the trees that night, but I'm mighty glad it worked out that way. I do love that car - I'm not ashamed to say it - and while I am confident that it would've protected me from undue harm that night... I'm very fortunate that it didn't have to.
So, that's my tale of excitement and terror. I hope you've enjoyed it. And no, I don't have pictures of the incident. For some odd reason, in the moments immediately following my first major car accident, the thought of "I gotta put this on Facebook!" didn't cross my mind. Sorry.
Anyone else have any near-misses they'd like to share?
Last edited by Superhands; 06-29-2013 at 12:59 AM.