By Michael Hansen — We had been thinking about this trip for a few years, my two kids and I. We began planning in early summer, narrowing down the best dates for the three of us. Tuesday before the trip, the weather was iffy, with the remnants of Hurricane Nora streaming to Colorado.
Friday morning arrived, and the weather was perfect. We made a last-minute decision, did one last check with my wife, who was working many shifts in a row, and got the green light.
We gathered a few remaining necessary items and hit the road, only to drive through a nasty thunder and hail storm before leaving town.
After a six-hour trip, we found the Mill Creek BLM campground at dusk and were able to locate a spot, an exciting development, because we had no idea if one would be available. The view of the Milky Way was stunning.
So far, things were working out as planned. We arose and ate early in order to get up to the trailhead and begin Day One–roughly a twelve-mile round trip.
As expected, the first day was ten hours of exhausting, gorgeous, tiring, with hurting feet and legs, but we were quite relieved to make it back to the campsite.
Day Two dawned with a chilly 32 degrees. By the time we made it further up the 4WD road to the upper trailhead for Handies, the temperature had dropped to 29 degrees. We cut our hike to about 2 1/4 miles, which was exactly what we wanted!
The views heading up American Basin were spectacular. The grade, however, was very steep, and we needed many breaks to catch our breath, drink more water and rest our legs. The hike up to the summit was challenging.
It took us about an hour and a half to get back to the car. One of the best feelings in the world is taking those boots off after hiking!
We started down the road, and things got interesting. As we slowly poked along, we suddenly heard a “thump, thump, thump” from the engine area. I thought it was a wheel or that we had caught a big rock in the tread, that is, until the battery light came on.
I immediately pulled to the right and turned off the engine. We looked under the hood, and it was conspicuous what had happened–the serpentine belt had shredded.
The next vehicle that came by pulled up next to us and asked if things were okay. We replied no, explaining what had happened. The driver replied by saying “I’m headed into town and can give you a ride if you need it.”
I decided to hop in, but wasn’t exactly sure what I would do once in town. Seventeen miles up the road, there was no signal whatsoever. The kids had stayed behind, stating they would get a ride back to the campground.
As soon as I got a signal, I started researching. I found several towing and roadside help “servicing Lake City,” but only one actually in Lake City. René’s Towing and Auto shop. I called and had to leave a message for what turned out to be his cell number.
Meanwhile, the kids made it back to the campground. Michael, who drove me into town, was headed back up the road but not to our camp. Ours was 3 miles past his. So, I had a ride at least back to the campsite.
As we got near the town center, we saw a sheriff’s truck and deputy. I waved him down and explained what was going on, hoping he’d be able to point us in the right direction if René’s wasn’t it. It turned out that was the best option. There was no one else anywhere, but he’s usually pretty good with returning calls, according to the sheriff.
I was finally able to talk to René. He said he would get tow my car if I could get it back to the lower trailhead parking area.
Michael and I headed back toward the campground. I finalized plans to meet up with my children again and find a ride back to the 4Runner.
As we were approaching the camp, we noticed a car behind us, and I decided to flag it down to see they could give us a ride up to the vehicle. Grant and Christine said they were headed up to Cinnamon Pass, but they could take us to the car. I thanked Michael for rescuing us and waved goodbye to him.
Arriving at the campsite, we piled into their FJ, and before taking off, they paused, and Grant said, “Hey, we normally pray before taking off on drives, is that okay with you?” I said, “Yes, of course!” We prayed and took off.
As we were pulling out of the camp, we ran into René in his truck! We caught up with him and told him who we were, and that we’d head up to the car and try our best to get it down to the parking area. I wasn’t sure if I could drive it without a serpentine belt, let alone down a 4WD road.
As we were driving up, we got to know each other a little, and Brandon, my son, mentioned he was headed to Walla Walla for school.
“Oh really, what school?” said Christine.
“Walla Walla University.”
“Wait, are you Adventists?”
“So are we!”
It happened that I waved down some new friends who are Adventists! They even know a couple of people we do (of course).
We arrived at the car a little worried about whether it would start because the hazard lights were left on. It started, and I kept the lights on and slowly made my way to the parking area about a mile down.
As soon as we got to the parking area, René was also arriving at the same time! As he was getting his truck in place, we tried restarting the car, but it was dead! We would not have been able to go any further!
René got it loaded while we had a small audience watching the action. As we passed the campground on our way down, we heard cheers. I guess the kids went around asking if anyone could get a ride back to our car, and so when they listened to the truck, they cheered us on!
I am still amazed at God’s timing and providence.
As I’m writing this, I just returned from taking the parts to René’s shop because Grant and Christine had found a place in Montrose open (it was Labor Day) and brought them to us in Lake City. I can’t thank them enough for their generosity.
So, there you have it. God’s creation was showing off as we explored its heights. God’s power to arrange things in a very personal and providential way was also showing off! He gets all the glory!
–Michael Hansen is the prayer ministries director at Newday Christian Adventist church; photo supplied.