Typical Morning in the Life of a Patroller

It was another early avalanche-control morning last Friday.  I hurried along Highway 410 with my co-worker and neighbor Leah as my passenger, weaving back and forth from lane to lane between fallen trees that had succumbed overnight to high winds and the weight of their branches’ snowy burden.   Occasionally, a trunk too large to skirt would block our path except for a car-width chain-sawed opening–a sign that someone, probably our Snow Safety Director Chet, had gone before us, well equipped to ensure we would have no good reason for being late for work this day. 

We enjoyed what view the headlights allowed of the snow-laden trees still standing though, as branches drooped under their thick flocking of snow.  Perhaps it was the wind or perhaps it was the warming, but intermittent "tree bombs" fell to the ground as the volume of snow exceeded friction’s ability to hold it, leaving the tree to shake with many green arms waving.

Looking up, I noticed several of the small snowy masses high above, dropping toward us against the dark morning sky.  I accelerated, believing  I might "beat them" and spare my well-worn windshield wipers the work of clearing the frosty mess about to hinder our view.   Just as we passed under the falling snow, I heard Leah say "Oh Sh*t".

A large tree fell on the roof of my minivan just behind the front seats.  Branches pierced the windshield, snapping from our momentum as they stabbed the seat between Leah’s legs and scratched down the middle of my nose, chin and chest, shredding my jacket.  I stopped the car, we got out, I had a bit of a bloody nose and some scratches, but we were both fine. 

Devin and Sara were a ways behind us and stopped to help.  Then the "new" guys pulled-up.  They all had to go late to work.  I got to go home and shower glass out of my hair.  But first I got to sit with a State Trooper listening to crazy radio traffic about all the mayhem back down the road.

A lot of people have made comments to me about the dangers of driving in the forest.  But from watching the TV news, it seems there were a lot more random tree-related problems in town.


Here’s a picture of Sara and Leah standing in the hole in the branches left by my minivan:


Leah climbed back in the car for this photo of how she DIDN’T get skewered.


This nice Trooper let me sit in his warm car while we waited for the tow truck to worm it’s way through all the cars that slid off the road down by town that morning.  He’s not undercover…it’s just a bad photo.


And here’s the nice driver from Fred’s in Enumclaw, who drove like 3 hours or something and was just as cheerful as can be!  (See the branch still sticking out my windshield?)

6 thoughts on “Typical Morning in the Life of a Patroller

  1. Nanook

    Damn! Glad you’re both OK! Leah– you gotta quit scaring us like that! I was just feet away from a direct hit via snow bomb yesterday, but I’m thinking that would have been better than Doug Fir gettin’ fresh with a limb between my legs!
    See you on Tuesday!


  2. Alicia Smith

    This is amazing. You must remember all the details so that you can share them around the fire next time we’re together at the Baird house.
    Love ya,
    The Smith family


  3. Uncle G

    Jeez Leah,
    Playing chicken with trees now? I’m sure you’ll win next time 🙂 Wow, glad you guys made it through ok. That’s a pretty scary picture – Gus


  4. Chris C Loup Loup patrol

    Holy moley! I saw this link on the Loup loup Ski Patrol Blog- you guys were lucky, that’s for sure!!!!! (This nearly happened to me on the North Cascades Pass with a bunch of rocks one night!) Glad you guys were ok.


  5. O my God . . Scary situation guys.
    you guys were really lucky.
    Anyway photos are awesome and really enjoyable weather.
    But one thing I cannot under stand .. How can you people control your self and keep your face smiling in such kind of situations.
    Corey Responds:
    I think realizing how wrong things could have gone, we just felt real happy to be alive and well. And as for control–I think we were both pretty shaky for a while. I’m guessing the appearance of control comes from working in a fairly tight-knit group where ya’ don’t feel like you always have to be in control, so it’s easy to vent and move on. That’s my theory.


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