As we plowed down the unpaved road in a pickup truck that we would soon found out did not have 4 wheel drive I had an interesting thought:
This might not be a good idea.
Shortly thereafter my phone rang. It was my buddy in the Hyundai ahead of us.
Turn back. Don't come any further we are stuck in the mud.
Naturally by the time he had finished his sentence we were directly behind his Hyundai and stuck in snow mixed with mud which had made a wonderful slush that trapped us too.
My then girlfriend gunned the engine of her parents Toyota pickup truck we were driving, trying to get us into reverse and out of the woods. I turned to her and said:
I thought you said this was four wheel drive?
She turned to me and shrugged.
I thought it was.
Ohhhh. Suddenly it became clear.
We were going to die in the woods.
I had thought of the many ways I might die in my life. But stranded in a snow covered wood from starvation really had never entered my mind. I'm not one for camping, or hiking, or just hanging out in the woods. So not only was I surprised that I was going to die in the woods, but that we had ended up in the woods in the first place.
That wasn't the plan. The plan was to go skiing. And in 2005 when you needed to get someplace you had never been before, you went on MapQuest. And whatever MapQuest said to do... we did. It had never gotten me lost before. I had always arrived safely at my destination.
Then again MapQuest had never invented an imaginary road that cut across a mountain to a ski resort.
So there we are, 4 of us, 2 couples with a Hyundai and a Toyota stuck in the slush trying to get a pick up truck out of the slush with a board and our wits.
Needless to say this didn't work.
So instead we started debating what to do. Who should we call? The police? What would we even say?
Hi 911? Yes we are lost in the woods. No I don't know where, we are lost. Actually if you try and get directions to go skiing via MapQuest that should get you to where we are right now.
We didn't have any friends in the area, and the only friends we did have were 3 hours away back in Phoenix. We were lost deep in thought when we saw a Honda barreling down the dirt road towards us. Immediately we start screaming.
TURN BACK! STOP! DON'T COME ANY FURTHER!
Before it makes it all the way to us the Honda stops and two girls wearing flip flops step out of the car. Part of me wonders if we should have let them keep going at this point. Immediately it is obvious that these two girls are also going skiing via MapQuest directions. We explain the situation to them and right away the driver gets all pissy with us... like we're trying to prevent them from going skiing.
Yea that's it, we know the skiing is really good so we basically parked our cars in the snow on a dirt road in the middle of the woods MILES AWAY FROM THE SKI SLOPES so nobody could get to the good snow which we are hoarding.
The a-holes get back in their Honda (which is smaller than both of our cars) and manage to back out of the woods to safety and civilization and all that crap, whereas the four of us are left with a greater issue. It is cold. We have no plan to get out. And some of us have to go to the bathroom.
As we are all aware, there are two kinds of having to go to the bathroom. The kind you wouldn't mind doing in the woods, and the kind you never want to have to do in the woods.
Naturally you can probably imagine the situation we were faced with here.
Even though you are in the middle of the woods, miles from people, part of you still thinks...
I wish I had a door right now.
But enough about that. After walking in circles we eventually decided we had to walk back the way we came. So we locked our cars (who knows) and started trekking out of the woods. We had been walking for about 15 minutes when I saw a giant black bear running towards us.
As it turns out it was just a large dog. But when you think you're going to die in the woods your mind is ready to accept crazy things.
But now I was worried I was going to eaten by a rabid woods dog. Until I saw a man following it. At which point I was ready to be confronted by an axe. I really didn't know what to expect.
As it turns out the man was the nicest man I'd ever met in the woods (read: only). We told him our story and he said just the weekend before he had met more people in the woods who had been kindly guided there by MapQuest and it's "invent a road" software. He volunteered to drive to Wal-Mart, buy a tow strap, and then come back into the woods and tow us out!
We were all in disbelief. How could a person be so nice? That's amazing! Please do!
As he drove us one of my friends turned to the rest of us and said "Is this a good idea?"
We suddenly realized that this guy knew we were stranded in the woods and maybe he was going back to get his weapons or people chopper or axe wielding friends. But we realized we didn't really have a choice.
And believe it or not he came back, axe-less and with a tow strap, and pulled us out of the woods.
I don't remember his name, and we never heard from him again but I never used MapQuest again.