Running Into Trouble with Crazy Woman

Addressing my concerned father, I promised him, “Don’t worry! On this road trip I’ll stay on all the main roads. I’ll be fine!”

 Leaving Devil’s Tower my GPS wanted to route me to Boise via Montana, but I wanted to see more of Wyoming. So I told it to take me on a different route. But I didn’t realize what it was getting me into. It started out as a wide 2-lane dirt road with zero ice and zero snow. A dirt road, in the Winter? I was a bit put off. But, I thought, it’s harmless! And there was no snow forecasted for that day.

Start of Crazy Woman Canyon Road
This is the start of Crazy Woman Canyon Road- it looks quite passable, doesn’t it? But wait- does that road go into those mountains? It turns to the side, doesn’t it?!

It started out great! I was giddy with laughter and excitement as I thundered down the road, sunshine in my face. I stopped to take some pictures of about a dozen motley horses. I’ll be posting those photos soon.

But when I saw that road heading into the mountains, I should have known better.

When I saw that the road was no longer plowed, and went down a steep hill, I should have known better.

The Start of the Bad
The Start of the Bad

But hey! After all, I could see tracks from other vehicles that had gone before me! The whole way!

At this point I made this video:

…and took this picture:

Crazy Horse Canyon Road in the Winter
Crazy Woman Canyon Road in the Winter. So Beautiful.

 I got through 14.5 of this 16-mile road no problem. Chains got me through another half mile. But then the road was too steep and too deep with snow- more than my little ’89 4WD Ford Ranger could handle.

 Just as I was getting out of my car a young man came my direction on a snowmobile.

 “I think I bit off more than I could chew!” I told him as he came to a stop and studied my predicament.

 He said that after he checked his traps that he would be back to try and help me out. In the meantime, I tried backing out, to see if I could get myself turned around and back out the other way. I got myself stuck in the ditch a half mile down.

Stuck in Crazy Woman's Ditch
Stuck in Crazy Woman’s Ditch. Those new chains and snow shovel came in handy after all!

 He came back and after running up to his truck to get a strap, he was able to get me out of the ditch, but not up the road. We did manage to ruin the strap though.

I parked it as off to the side that I could, and he gave me a ride up the road and then into the town of Buffalo, Wyoming in his truck.

Seeing the Sunset on Crazy Woman
Seeing the Sunset on Crazy Woman. The real thing was even better!
Safely to the Junction of Route 16. Looking back on Crazy Woman.
Safely to the Junction of Route 16. Looking back on Crazy Woman.

In our conversing I learned that his name was Emmanuel. Him and his wife grew up in an Amish community in another state and had decided not to stay around. He liked the space and quiet life of Wyoming.

Emmanuel even offered to take me all the way back to the truck in the morning, which he did. AAA had told me that they would be able to get me out, but when I called back in the morning they told me that they (suddenly) didn’t provide coverage for unplowed roads.

So I called the towing company recommended to me by the nice people at the motel. The company came out with a GEHL CTL80 skid steer and fetched me out. With tracks instead of wheels (like a tank) and weighing in at over 10,000 pounds, they weren’t messing around. At $150 an hour, the tab came to $450.

Unloading the CTL80
Unloading the CTL80 at the junction of Highway 16 and Crazy Woman Canyon Road in Wyoming
A GEHL CTL80, for your reference

Upward and Onward
I think we averaged less than 3 MPH on the way up.

After including motel costs and what I gave Emmanuel to compensate him for time, materials, and fuel, total out-of-pocket came to $560. What an expensive life lesson! I learned (1) don’t go on unpaved roads in the winter (2) trust your intuitions, even if it interferes with your sense of adventure, and (3) don’t break your promises!

Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t keep my word! I’ve been getting quite the telling from my relatives here in Boise about all the people who innocently start off on obscure roads into the winter and show up dead in the spring. (Let me pridefully note that I am a prepared Eagle Scout with experience, food, water, proper gear and plenty of clothing!)

In the end, I DID go through Montana, to stay on the interstates. I do hope to visit this road again in the summer, when it is passable! It was so beautiful and I regret not having been able to take more pictures.

The orange arrows indicate the GPS route, while the green arrows indicate the actual route that my truck took!
Where I Got Stuck: N 44 10.250 W 106 53.638

2 thoughts on “Running Into Trouble with Crazy Woman”

  1. A response from my mother:


    Loved the multimedia blog with the photos and video! I’m pushing back though on your conclusion.

    You wrote: “I learned (1) don’t go on unpaved roads in the winter (2) trust your intuitions, even if it interferes with your sense of adventure…”

    I’m not sure about this.

    The parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-20) teaches us to take risk. So if the choice is between taking a risk or being a conservative steward of the resources that Jesus gave us, Jesus himself tells us to take the risk!

    Now there are thoughtful risks and foolish risks and it takes a lifetime to be able to distinguish between the two. There is no bright line where on one side the risks are appropriate and the other side they are not.

    If you live your life too far to the left, you lose out on opportunities, adventures, and stories to tell about how Jesus met your need. If you live your life too far to the right, you will pay in some form or fashion. But the currency we use to pay belongs to Jesus and we are also called to be wise stewards so it can be a conflict.

    I hope that this experience does not cause you to recalibrate your life to move to the left. Going on the road trip in the first place was a risk and grand adventure, good for you!

    …You were prepared for things to go wrong. You made a thoughtful assessment and made a decision.

    Continue to live large Alex. Take risks. I’m fully behind you!

    Love ya

    My response to her response:

    Hey mom!

    Thanks for the feedback. Jesus does call us to take risks, but as you said it can take a lifetime to find the balance.

    I think that the place where I crossed the like is when I got to the photo entitled “The Start of the Bad” and kept going. Also, no one knew that I was on that road. Had I even gone off into a ravine and been injured, there likely would not have been someone to find me.

    And I still cringe when I think that I dropped over half a grand on this.

    All in all I will still take risks that other “safe” people wouldn’t, but I’ll think about it a bit more first, and I’ll take steps to mitigate possible negative consequences (like telling people what road I’m taking).



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