Christmas Mountain Slide

by on November 1st, 2010
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Just before Christmas, in 1986, my parents, sister and brother-in-law and myself, embarked on a trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, to top the mountains of Ski Apache Resort. Little did we know that instead of sliding down the slopes, the more harrowing adventure would be sliding up and down the icy hillside roads to the resort.

On the first day, the drive was not bad because I rode with my parents, who are experienced snow drivers from all the years they went to Colorado, hunting. But even with experienced drivers, seeing the edges of the road so close to the side of our truck, as we slipped along on ice and snow covered narrow roads made me want to cry. I knew dad knew what he was doing, but that did not make the 1000’s of feet down onto rocks, trees, and who knows what else look any more inviting. Oh, and of course, no guard rail. The opposite side was no better, there you slid into the hillside, large rocks, or into oncoming traffic. Yes oncoming traffic on a road that was so narrow you could barely go one direction and it was going two. The first day, we made it safely.

The next day the fun began. My parents stayed behind to tour, and let us drive their Chevy truck while they drove my sister’s station wagon around for the day. They should have designated a driver other than my brother-in-law, bless his soul; safe driving was not and still is not his strong suit.

To leave the cabins you had to follow a little road across a small bridge and then turn left on to the road towards town. You had no choice but to turn left because there was a snow covered hillside preventing you from going any other way. Not so with our talented driver, we made an only slightly left skid directly into the snow covered embankment. Luckily the only damage was to the snow, where we left a bumper shaped deep dent. Which incidentally my parents told us that they knew was from us as soon as they saw it. But thus started our trip up and then back down the mountain that day.

We invented a new word that day, it went something like, “Sloeeeaahck!” It was a terrified cross between “slow down”, and screams of eek and aahhh! I don’t think I have ever seen my life flash before my eyes so much in one day. It was kind of like having instant replay on a football game that you had watched several times before. I had actually forgotten about some of those events though, so at least I had my memory refreshed.

It seemed we were constantly sliding toward our doom, whether that was 1000’s of feet down to our deaths, crashing into the mountain or perhaps a tree or a rock. Quite often it seemed we were hanging just over that edge looking death in the eye as we stared down that ravine in terror just before our truck some how righted itself back onto the road. Of course then we were usually headed for the snow-covered just as unforgiving hillside. We seemed to be the metal ball in a pin ball game bouncing back and forth off whatever obstacle was there to change our course.

We created our own road both up and down the mountain that day. It seemed traveling was either going to literally kill us or scare us to death in which the outcome would be the same; sudden death, just days before Christmas. Somehow, by the grace of God indeed, we are all still here today, survivors of this Christmas mountain slide.


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