We were driving the high road from Cripple Creek to Colorado Springs, named the Gold Camp Road, nine miles following an old narrow gauge railroad bed. Actually Jan was driving, since she didn’t trust me to drive and sight-see at the same time. I do love the scenery, and it doesn’t get any better than the Gold Camp Road. It was a one way, one lane road beginning at Cripple Creek until a tunnel collapsed in 1988, and now it is a hiker and biker trail, so this event occurred before 1988.
The Alpine flowers were in multi-colored full bloom in mid-summer, the clouds were high and sparse for a rare rain-free July day, and the views of the mountain terrain and the distant foothills and high plains were forever. No one else was ahead or behind us for miles, and Jan was driving about 10 to 20 miles per hour on the loose gravel, since one side of the road was cut from the mountain rock, and other was a steep fall that had no visible bottom. Once in a while she would stop so that she could enjoy the scenery, take a break from a nervous hold on the steering wheel, and we could walk through the flowers.
In a few places the mountain rock was cut so that the single lane ran through a narrow canyon with rock on both sides. That would seem to be a secure place, but as we were driving through one of the longest of these narrow one –way passages, we saw a large dump truck barreling toward us at high speed. You could see the gravel dust billowing out behind the truck. It was not slowing down, although it was plain that there was not room for both the truck and our little Dodge Colt station wagon inside the defile at the same time. There was not time for Jan to back up, nor was there room on the shelf behind us for two vehicles side-by-side.
Jan didn’t even have time to brake to a complete stop. The truck just kept coming at full speed.
This was one of those moments that seem to last a long time, because you know you’re going to die. You have time to review your whole pathetic life in an instant.
Jan pulled the car against the right side until you could hear the panels scrape against the rock, and we both let out a loud groan in our prayers—not to become a can of sardines squished against the rocks by a truck that was large and heavy enough to destroy us without leaving so much as a dent on its bumper.
I don’t know how the truck managed to squeeze past us with just a scratch on our rear view mirror. I think it was divine intervention. We had some time left to mend our ways.