If you haven’t spent much time in Colorado, a snow storm in May could seem like a bizarre and crazy occurrence. 36” of snow fell in Boulder over the last 48 hours, our start location of Golden was actually white, and here in Colorado they actually named the storm “Valerie”. That’s right, just like a Hurricane, this winter storm had a name. It wasn’t exactly the ideal lead up to a Classic Car Driving event.
So it was with a little trepidation that I walked into the room for our Thursday night “unofficial” pre-event dinner, hosted by Hagerty Collector Car Insurance in their new Colorado office. In just a few short hours we’d be lining up our classic cars for registration, in a parking lot that was currently blanketed by snow. “Right,” I thought, “I should probably address the situation…” So with that thought in mind, I spoke about our pending event. I highlighted alternate route preparations, I suggested the storm appeared to be moving on, I added the usual CCA flourish where a downpour becomes a slight misting of rain. But outside, it was white. It’s kind of hard to hide the white.
We awoke this morning to black roads, and white gardens. The snow was still falling, lightly, but with rising temperatures it wasn’t sticking. Perhaps my luck would change after all! I peered over weather reports, scrutinized highway conditions and highway cameras, and then packed up the final items for registration. Checking each car in this morning, it was nothing but smiles and positive thoughts. Our Colorado guests reaffirmed that this sort of thing can happen, and how they were sure the weather was turning. Our Oklahoma guests, used to extreme weather of another kind, were perhaps a little less enthusiastic of the snow, but still very enthusiastic about the event. Our other out-of-towners were equally excited to start…except, perhaps, the Canadians who joked that they came south to leave this winter weather behind! With warning triangles and registration forms checked, the driver’s meeting began.
2017 seems to be the “year of the re-route due to weather” for Classic Car Adventures, and today was no different. After studying the maps, I selected a route which I believed would give us the best mix of twisty roads, while keeping the group low enough to avoid the potential snow squalls and snow storms. With directions confirmed, it was time to embark on our mission like early explorers.
We started from Golden amongst the snow, and quickly found dense fog along S. Turkey Creek Road. Navigating through the soupy fog, I wondered how Andrew and Dan could possibly shoot photos today…or if we’d see the sun at all on the event. And yet, by 11am the fog was behind us, and by noon the sun was shining. We enjoyed a repeat of some 2016 roads, some of the best on the event, before turning west on highway 24. An hour later we met up with the original route planned in the route book, and headed south towards the Monarch Pass.
The driver’s meeting auxiliary map had split the route into two options at this point. We were to check in at Buena Vista to confirm the pass conditions, and make a decision for ourselves. Those willing to risk possible snow would to head up over the Monarch Pass, while those wishing to avoid it would go on the longer around route though Sagauche.
Climbing up towards the Summit, I was sure we had made the wrong choice. The cars coming in the opposite direction had snow covered front bumpers and license plates. Still, it was just flakes falling and not sticking to the road…so surely it would be okay? “Just another mile then,” we said to ourselves, “we can turn around if it gets bad.” Up we climbed, the weather staying steady, and suddenly there we were on the summit. Sunshine, and dry roads meeting us on the other side. It was a welcome twist from our expectations.
Twenty minutes later, arriving in the hotel parking lot, it was sunny and folks were washing the day’s grime off their cars. One thing you couldn’t wash off, however, were the smiles on our faces. We started the day in Golden expecting the worse, expecting to just bear with it and try and make it to the finish. And yet, here we were. Not only had we made it, but it had been an incredibly fine day of driving. Lucky? Perhaps. Well planned? Well, perhaps ‘well saved’ is a better descriptor. Adventurous? Absolutely.
And, ultimately, that’s why we’re all here. For the Adventure.
Special thanks to Andrew Snucins and Dan Evans for braving the snow and cold to bring us these stunning images from today’s adventure.