We have a steep hill at the end of the road on the nearest island. Where we park our cars. It is really steep. Black diamond. And, over time and weather it develops some pretty severe moguls.
A normal car or van can’t make it. You need a 4×4 and even 4×4 pick-ups (being lighter in the back end) have a bit of trouble. The ideal vehicle would be a 4X4 with chunky tires and a short wheelbase. Like a Forerunner or a Pathfinder. That is what we have – an older Nissan Pathfinder. It is great. And that is what most of the vehicles are like. We all have SUVs. Mostly.
Interesting lesson: it is better to go down a steep hill front ways and then back the vehicle up that same hill when you want to return rather than trying to back down first and driving up frontways after. Why? Weight distribution. You have better braking going down frontways and you have better traction going up backwards (engine over the drive wheels). Kinda counterintuitive, isn’t it?
The smallest suitable vehicle is a Tracker and the largest is a Suburban or Expedition. There’s a Subaru in the lot but I don’t think they attempt the hill. Not enough clearance for the dips and holes. A vehicle can get hung up pretty easily. A few years back a small 4×4 pick-up snapped it’s frame going up. The whole thing was stuck on the hill like a giant half-open jack-knife.
We also have several dead or dying trees looming over the hill. They will fall. Someday. Soon. And that would make getting up and down even harder. There’s also a little spring that seeps out of the hill about halfway down. That constant stream helps the tires erode the surface and so the ruts and moguls get bigger and the road becomes more impassable every year.
The hill almost qualifies for a National Geo picture sometimes – especially in the winter when the snow is on the surface and the ice from the spring has ‘paved’ the bottom into an inclined skating rink. More than a few of us have slid to a stop at the bottom.
That is when we start to use good boots and balance to get up the hill instead of horsepower and winter tires. When you slip down more than just a few feet, you leave the vehicle at the top.
Four years ago 34 neighbours gathered on a particularly rainy day and with shovels and wheelbarrows resurfaced the hill. It was a magnificent effort. We did good.
And it lasted four years. That was all fine for awhile but life and roadways change. The hill is deteriorating. So is everyone else. We’re getting old. Carrying heavy weights up and down the hill in the winter is becoming less of an option. Especially when even good boots don’t afford good traction. The writing is on the hill. We have to do something.
I’ll keep you posted.