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Lost in the Wilderness


So today, in the height of the peak of the leaves ( is that redundant?) we decided to take the truck to Dolly Sods Willderness, a 40 minute drive from Mt. Storm and the highest point of land in West Virginia at 4700 feet. The views are SPECTACULAR and with the leaves in full color the best place to see them. In a wilderness area, on top of a mountain, at the end of a bumpy, rock-strewn, gravel road that drops off hundreds of feet on one side, and sheer cliffs on the other. Not for the light hearted or light weight vehicles. Trucks are the best.


But that didn't stop "La touristas" from all over the world and country in their SUV's and BMW's and WTF's as well. The ride to the turnoff is paved and about a mile up the mountain before it turns to gravel. We met a few cars coming down the mountain but no one in front for most of the way there, then...we started noticing cars parked along the side(s) of the very narrow road that grew ever-narrower at the top. About 100 yards from the top there was a line of cars stopped dead. No one going anywhere up...or down from the peak.


After sitting there like a pair of dumbasses for five minutes and noticing people getting out of their cars (that's never a good sign) I got out of mine and walked up to see what was up. Two guys were coming down on foot. Apparently there were so many cars at the top, parked in every conceivable place and direction, that a form of gridlock had been created. There were people at the top trying to get down, but the road, narrow already, was now impassable due to cars leaf watchers had just parked haphazardly on both sides of the road. I asked one guy, "So what's the plan?"

He figured if we could get my line of cars- there were three in front and five behind -to move as far over to the right, that would allow cars on top to pass by on the way down the mountain thereby aleviating the congestion on top. Good plan. I walked quickly down asking folks to move over. "Once the 5-6 cars waiting up top come through we can move up to the top," I told them and I moved my truck and they did the same. Three cars came down and we waited for more, the 5-6 we expected, but no show. So...I hopped in my truck comes this dufus just having passed the six of us being polite and moving over, NOT FOR HIM but the folks coming down the mountain. "Uh...where do you think YOU'RE going? You know these people have been waiting their turn to go up." He says, "So go up," and drives right past me. Asshole. I follow HIM up the mountain to another stoppage. I get out. Several people are waiting to go down, they were part of the 5-6, but for reasons still unknown were still sitting. I spoke to one. Told him he was better off turning around and going the way we were OUT THE OTHER SIDE. "Look man, I have been waiting 45 minutes to get out of here and I am heading down this mountain." He got out to see why he was unable to accomplish that task: the people behind me coming up.


Once they cleared he headed out and down. I looked to where my truck WAS, and Coletta had taken the wheel and moved about ten car lengths further down the road towards the back exit. By the time I got there and looked up towards the back exit in front of us, it was readily apparent that THAT was not the way out. Cars were blocking both lanes and the congestion and gridlock was bad even worse than where we were. I decided the only way out, was back the way I came, the route I had cleared. I made a 3 or 4 or maybe a 5-point turn and headed out. I got to the place I left the truck and saw folks waiting to come up including one dude trying to park his giant SUV on the side. He was the only car/truck blocking, so I jumped out and guided him up and back, turn left hard, turn right hard, pull forward... until he was out of the road.


By this time there were several cars behind me as I made my way down a clear path until...a white BMW coming up the path. It was game of chicken so I jumped out again and the woman in the passenger seat rolled her window up. What? Did she think I was going to attack her? "Look, " I said, you cannot go up, there is total gridlock ...." She interrupted me rudely, "I UNDERSTAND!" Uh... no you don't lady I have been to the top, and I KNOW what is going on up there. But I convinced her husband to back up which he did and then turned over the the side of the road so we could pass.


I drove past him and on down stopping everyone coming up with the same message: "Look there is no sense in you trying to get up there. It's total gridlock. There must be a thousand cars up there. Your best bet is to turn around and head back down." I must have said that to 15- 20 cars , most thanked me, one drove past without stopping despite the fact I had my hand out the window waving the universal signal for STOP TROUBLE AHEAD.


By the time I got past the 10 to 15 cars in line the road widened and we could make some time. By "we" I mean the five to six cars behind me including the white BMW. At one point there were three cars in a curve stopped dead, and I got out as they were blocking the road at a cut off. They were all either Indian or Pakistanis, nice folks and I gave them the same message and suggested that they turn around in the cut off. I directed all three one at a time to the cut off explaining that after the six of us came through they could all head back down the mountain. Same thing; turn your wheel hard to the left now back, now to the right and pull forward, okay now back good. Stop there. I got all three of them facing the right direction in the cut off, out of the roadway and jumped back in my truck and down the mountain .

On the way down the road was wide enough for two cars to pass each other, but I made a point of telling each and every one that there was no sense in continuing on to where the road narrowed and was lined with cars on both sides and one lane cars going up and down. Again ...most thanked me. One asked why couldn't he just drive through on 75 and out the other side? "Because there is gridlock at the top. There is no "driving through"... just chaos with 1000 cars every which way.


I actually had fun with it. Taking charge, making a plan or plans, and carrying them out. I told Coletta, "That's what leadership is all about...taking charge... leading the way." "You're good at that," she said quite sarcastically . "You are right… I am!" said I proudly.

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