Stuck in SNP

February 9, 2009

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can plan out a wildlife trip to the smallest detail but it’s never guaranteed, and rarely does, go according to plan. Last Friday was the most stressed I’ve been in the park simply for that reason.

In the beginning, things went swimmingly. My friend Susan and I hit Skyline Drive and cruised toward Limberlost. Snow was still prevalent along the drive and I wanted to check the park that day since the Central District had just reopened.

Cruising downhill into the Limberlost parking lot, I moved with no problem among the nearly 3 inch deep snow and parked. No one else had disturbed the trail, so everything was fresh and tracks were very evident. An exciting find was the apparent re-emergence of black bears based on tracks in two different areas. Visible wildlife was nearly non-existant but I took aim at a woodpecker along the path. Nearing the end, toward the overlap with White Oak Canyon Trail, I found new bobcat tracks and we followed them briefly, but couldn’t find anything more significant.


Shortly after five we hopped in my truck and headed out – or so we thought. The incline of the parking lot combined with the snow prevented me from receiving any traction and we were stuck.


Photo by Susan

Attempted solutions included using fallen branches to form a mini-road under my tires, which worked with minimal success, and then using an ice scraper to literally start clearing the path. That method worked better, but was still not a realistic way of getting uphill in any reasonable time.

Meanwhile, as all of this is happening, a ranger drives by around six and Susan hits the horn, with no success getting us any attention.

Finally, we resorted to giving up the few yards we had gained and attempted a last rev uphill. Since that was a total bust as well, we began walking for higher ground where our cell phones would work. Making our way through Skyland on foot, we finally got a strong signal and made contact with the outside world.

Thinking a ranger would soon arrive to help, we downed some bread we’d brought along and walked back to Limberlost.

As an aside – the most interesting observation occurred near the top of the Limberlost parking lot with large feline tracks in the snow that I am convinced were mountain lion. They were also discovered moving across my tires tracks from entering the lot, so they were very fresh.

Back at the truck we settled in to wait for help. Around 10 p.m. my girlfriend’s sister and husband arrived instead of a ranger. As it turns out, when we left reception the rangers phoned my girlfriend saying they had a sedan and couldn’t pull us out. Our options were a ride or calling a tow truck.

After 11, we were back in town sans truck. Not a day of many images, but still one I’m bound to remember for a long time.

2 Responses to “Stuck in SNP”

  1. […] Shenandoah National Park with my friend Evan (check out his post about the same adventure, “Stuck in SNP“). It was a routine little excursion (or so we thought) as Evan is working on a photography […]

  2. […] visits to the same area and sometimes saw more tracks, I was never able to locate the source of the tracks […]

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