At the end of August, the recent purchase of our new 2007 Legacy GT Limited could only mean it was time for a Labor Day road trip. We grabbed two of our friends, and off we went to Montana.
We headed to Whitefish, a great local town with cool shops and good food. Whitefish is also home to Big Mountain, a local ski mountain. Our friends and I had never been up to the mountain before, so we decided to check it out.
On our way up, I missed a crucial turn that takes you up the mountain to the lodge. I was looking for a place to turn around when I noticed a forest service road and ventured in. The road had fairly nice gravel and climbed in elevation at a decent rate, so on we went.
After a few miles, the road became rutted and had a lot of potholes, but "Roo" was handling it with ease. The view became more breathtaking with every turn. We saw some wildlife, great views of the lake, and, having less than 1/8 tank of gas, pressing on seemed to be the best option.
We rounded a corner and saw one of the chairlifts. Then we approached an open yellow gate. There were no signs, and our GPS was indicating that the trail we were on would connect with Outpost Avenue.
A couple of corners later, we realized we were approaching the summit. What a proud moment in a Subaru owner’s life! We got some priceless pictures of the Roo on some runs. What a story to go back and tell.
We passed some lifts and outbuildings and tried to hook up with Outpost Avenue. We began to question whether or not we should be there.
Little did I know this adventure had not hit its peak.
The trail continued to twist and turn. I noticed the road seemed to disappear about 20 feet in front of us. As we slowly approached, we saw it did not disappear; it just got really, really steep. But it looked like if we could just get down the 150-yard hill, it leveled out and rounded the corner to (at this point) the famous Outpost Avenue. Turning around was now an option at this point, so we decided we could do it.
Our wives had really done well holding their composures and kept their faith in us to get them down – no pressure. Like any good husband, I kept my faulty confidence on display, and, besides, the car had really been impressive up to this point.
Down the hill we went. It felt like a steep roller coaster cresting its peak. With adrenaline pumping and foot loosely on brake pedal, I thought for sure we would break traction and I would have to rally it out.
Well, we didn’t lose traction and got to a point where the incline lessened enough to stop for a picture. The picture definitely did not do justice to the incline we were on, but the car sure does look beautiful in it.
After creeping and crawling our way down, we were on fairly level ground. We just had done what I thought was amazing. Sure, if you were in a beater car or truck – not that impressive to some. But with a brand new car with less than 10,000 miles and our wives, it made for some stress.
We admired the hill for a moment, then were off around the next corner only to have the laughs and smiles turn to silence and blank faces. I wished I would have turned around up top at this point, but climbing that hill we had just descended was a sure way to damage some paint (I know it would have pulled that hill, but at the expense of wet pants and scratched paint). But what was ahead were the worst ruts and dirt moguls that car would ever see, at least as long as I owned it.
With my friend guiding from outside the vehicle, we maneuvered Roo down this 150-yard stretch of boot camp for cars with no damage. We rubbed a skid plate a wee bit, but it made it, my little Roo, with its low ground clearance. It was a proud moment for this now-lifetime Subaru owner.
I mentioned it was like a roller coaster ride, but this coaster wasn’t done yet. It weaved us through one last turn, which approached another yellow gate. But this one – you guessed it – was LOCKED.
I really didn’t know what to do, but calling for help seemed like an option which would get me in trouble or something. We were scoping out the side of a steep but short hill we thought we could make, having lots of confidence with the car now. That’s when a security guard pulled up on the other side of the gate. He got out and approached me and said, “They told me someone left the top gate unlocked and a little white car was seen by mountain bikers going down a steep hill and that they would need to go up and pick up the pieces.”
Well, we were in one piece. He was amazed that “that little car” made it. He then did a full walkaround in amazement, unlocked the gate, and apologized for the top gate being unlocked.
Our little Subaru impressed a lot of people and let me keep my man pride. To this day, the Big Mountain adventure is still part of my defense when convincing my wife a trail needs some inspecting.
We have much love for our Roo!
-Johnny (and Melissa) Nowak, Snohomish, WA