“You’re gonna catch hell when the rangers find your Jeep on the trail! Can’t you just park it and we’ll walk up and find Buck?”
The look Geoff gave Sylvia silenced her. His face was turning red and that meant that he had reached his limit for suggestions. Staring straight into the blowing snow he hit his high-beams to see farther up the trail. The hill went up from here with rocks close in. The trail was meant for walking not for Jeeps. But, Geoff knew, the Forest Service kept ingress wide enough for trucks to get in in case of fire or other emergencies. In this case, Geoff was sure, this was just such an emergency and he’d be damned if there was anything going to get in his way. As he stared ahead he felt his tires spin for the first time. The snow was building and was now about three inches deep. He jammed on the brakes and jumped out to spin the Warn hubs for the front tires. The Jeep was an old CJ 5 with a 302 V8 and 3-speed shift. Modern day Jeeps have, for the most part, done away with hubs on the front in favor of electric engagement of the 4 wheel drive. In 1975, Warn hubs were standard on Jeeps as was the three speed manual transmission and manual just about everything else.
Hubs spun he shifted the transfer case into 4 wheel high and rammed the accelerator pedal down. The 302 roared and jumped forward like a spurred horse, throwing Sylvia back in her seat with an utterance, “Lord have mercy!”
The Jeep easily topped the hill and they were looking down on a switchback. Geoff took advantage of the hilltop to look as far down the trail as he could. Seeing nothing but trail, he shifted into first and let compression slow him as he crawled the Jeep down to the bottom. At this point, he knew, they were only a half mile from the trailhead and he guessed that if Buck wasn’t here yet then trouble was exactly what he had run into.
He couldn’t take the jeep as far in on the trail as he had hoped. Once into the trees it narrowed as tree trunks and huge boulders claimed their own real estate. The Jeep, small as it was, would never fit between them. Another mile and they’d be walking. Besides, much farther, he knew, and he wouldn’t be able to turn the Jeep around. The decision was made, he’d take it in as far as he could and hope that they met Buck on the short trip in. Hopefully, they’d meet him whistling a tune with a spring in his step and not a care in the world. At least, that’s what he hoped would happen.