I awoke for day three of the Hagerty Silver Summit at 4am. Something didn’t sound right. I could hear water flowing off the hotel, which meant the storm from the evening hadn’t moved on. Would we awake to rain…or snow?
A 6am look out my window, and I knew I had a challenging morning ahead of me. The snow was definitely sticking, though the roads appeared clear. The mountain pass we were planning to use out of Keystone was so snowy, chains were required. The back-up plan, through the Eisenhower tunnels, wasn’t going to work either. Road reports and cameras showed a slushy, icy, slippery mess. One entrant awoke to find his flights home from Denver had already been cancelled. The snow had certainly hit the fan!
Having explored all the roads in the area earlier this year, I knew there was one last option, but being a smaller route it wasn’t featured on our usual sources for road conditions. I’d have to go for a morning drive. Andrew Snucins was deployed in the role of organizer, relaying the message to entrants that the driver’s meeting would be delayed but I was working on an alternate route. I buzzed down the highway, exploring our last opportunity to get out of the resort…and wrote a new route book at the same time. While our entrants dined on breakfast, I typed up a quick and dirty set of route instructions.
I explained our new route in front of the windows of our hotel, as the snow fell behind me. We handed out route instructions and maps, and ensured that everyone understood the plan exactly before heading out. We were standing at 9,280 feet above sea level, and I was sending the group over Hoosier pass, an 11,000 foot mountain pass a little to our south. Despite the group being incredibly adventurous and easy going all weekend, it was understandable that some of them were a little concerned. I took on the role of sweep this morning, not because I wasn’t willing to lead the charge over the mountain (I had been up there once already), but because I wanted to ensure each and every one of our guests made it over without problems. We loaded up, added another layer of clothing, and set off down the road…
There is something magical about following a group of enthusiasts who are determined to make the best of any situation. Instead of simply blasting off onto the route, groups of friends (newly formed over the weekend) traveled together. At the top of Hoosier pass, snow falling but not sticking, a number of cars stopped for a group photo. Without it, no one in their respective clubs was going to believe the story!
A few miles down the road, on the other side of the mountains, the snow and rain stopped…and the sun came out. We enjoyed mile after mile of winding pavement, dark menacing clouds over the mountains to the left, and blue skies above us. Soon we rejoined the original route in the book, and cars were pulling over to remove windows and clothing layers. Central City, Blackhawk and Rollinsville rolled on by, and soon we were together as a group for one last time in Nederland.
Patricia Fredrick was awarded the Hard Luck Award, her T-Bird failing on day one. Kevin Lewis was awarded the MacGyver award for his ingenious repair for a broken exhaust hanger. Without any wire to hold it up, he used the lanyard from his name tag! Knowing it was going to melt, he recruited a few other entrants to ensure he had enough lanyard to make the finish. Fred Phillips was awarded our first ever “Spirit of the Summit” award. Not only was his enthusiasm throughout the weekend contagious, but he also roped four other friends into joining the Hagerty Silver Summit.
Honestly though, I wish I had created 46 Spirit of the Summit awards this year, one for each person on the event. The weather, at times, was more than anyone had bargained for. But each and every person smiled, shrugged it off and made the best of it. The roads were enjoyed to maximum, every entrant was watching out for each other and ensuring each and everyone one made it through the adversity. When we met at the end of each day, it was smiles and laughter and cries of “Adventure!”
Often at the end of an event the fatigue and desire to ‘get home’ clears out the finish pretty quickly. Not so with the Hagerty Silver Summit. Our friendships forged over the weekend became obvious as each guest was ensuring they said goodbye to each and every other participant. No one was to be missed, we had come too far together to simply drive off without a goodbye.
A year and a half ago I fell in love with Colorado because of the roads. I cannot wait until next year’s Hagerty Silver Summit. We’ll be planning great roads, anticipating your great cars. But the truth is, I’m coming back for the people. We have a new ‘Colorado Classic Car Family’, and can’t wait to add more members next year.
A selection of Andrew Snucins Photography photos below: