With each press of the gas I could feel the front end of the car sink deeper into the sand. Laughing, I thought to myself “This is just part of the adventure, right? I’ll remember this part of my trip forever, right?” I got out of the car, got eye level with the front bumper and saw that the oil pan of the car was marooned on a mountain of sand.
I crawled back into the front seat of the beached Ford Fiesta I had been driving for a week. It was about four thirty am, and not a single person in the campers and tents around me were stirring, and daylight wasn’t for nearly two hours. I was pretty bummed that my car was stuck on the sandy shores of Lake Powell, but even more bummed that my plan of photographing Horseshoe Bend at sunrise was quickly slipping away.
As I tossed and turned in the uncomfortable drivers seat, I tried repeatedly to fall asleep, but finding a comfortable position was impossible, and I had already taken my tent down before this debacle started. I still had to laugh though; I pretty much saw this coming as I pulled on to the beach late the night before. It was around ten PM, and after having a few brews at a bar in Page Arizona, all I could think of was sleep. When I pulled into the spot to camp, I could swear I felt the car sink into the soft Utah sand, but I paid no mind and went about my business setting up my tent.
But all that was old news now as I tried again to get comfortable and nap until I could find help. Thirty minutes passed by I still hadn’t been able to fall back asleep, so I decided to crawl back out of my car and try again to free it from the clutches of the sand. Had anyone been watching me at this point, I would possibly resemble some sort of lunatic as I franticly ran around car pushing and digging. It seemed that every time I would dig out from under the car then attempt to move it, the wheels would sink deeper.
Frustrated, I threw myself into a seated position against the car, and watched as the sun began to slowly creep above the horizon over Lake Powell. The view was stunning. Features around the lake began to become more visible as the orange light illuminated the surrounding landscape, a sort of silver lining to the whole ordeal.
By this point it was about six forty five in the morning. After watching the sun dance below the horizon for nearly thirty minutes, I decided to try and free my car from its shackles yet again. As I began to dig, I looked up and noticed a gentleman walking around his camper. Excited to see someone stirring, I made my way over to him to ask for help. He had a big truck, but unfortunately no rope. At this point I had to make a decision. Sacrifice my only climbing rope, or stay stranded a while longer. After a few minutes of thinking, we doubled up the rope and fed one end around the back axel of my car, and the other end to his pickup truck a hundred feet away. I knew with the dynamic stretch of my climbing rope, the odds of this working were slim, but tried it any way. After a few tugs and not much movement, I got into the car put it in reverse, and slowly pressed the gas pedal as my new friend pulled with his truck. The car began to lurch backward and up out of the sand. Relief rushed over me as the car continued backward onto the hard packed sand I should have not strayed from the night before.
With my car freed, I thanked the man that helped me out and offered him a little cash for his time but he refused and said he was just trying to do the right thing. It made me feel good that there are still people willing to help a stranger in need.
The moral of the story is, don’t park in sand unless you’re willing to sacrifice sleep and your climbing rope.