A Colorado man driving a 38-foot motor home is finally free after spending about a week marooned on Lime Creek Road, a narrow and rugged dirt road high in the San Juan Mountains north of Durango.
The driver became stuck about June 5 after failing to negotiate a left turn, causing the left rear wheels to slip off the road, said Wayne Barger, owner of Animas Towing and Recovery in Silverton, which helped free the vehicle Sunday.
“He just took the corner too sharp,” Barger said. “He said the road gave out and his back left duel went off the road.”
The driver was also pulling a sedan on a car dolly.
The RV sat precariously on the edge of the road, with about a 400-foot drop to the driver’s left. The driver stayed the entire week with his RV, unwilling to leave his stuff, said Brad Klipping, a mountain biker who came upon the scene Thursday.
He was also unwilling to detach his car, believing it was helping anchor the RV to the road, Klipping said. No cars were able to pass, he said.
“I can’t image how he got that far,” Klipping said.
The driver slept under a tarp, apparently unwilling to stay in the RV perched on the dirt road. “It was kind of unstable, the vehicle was,” Barger said.
The driver apparently got onto Lime Creek Road road near the south side of Molas Pass and traveled south about 5½ miles before becoming stuck. He was trying to get to a campground on the south end of Lime Creek Road, Barger said.
“It would be easier just to stay on (U.S. Highway) 550, but he didn’t know that,” Barger said.
Barger said it was an unusual sight to see a vehicle of that size on such a narrow alpine road. Had the RV not gotten stuck where it did, he would have run into problems about a half-mile farther up the road where boulders had come crashing down.
Barger said he had to remove the 3-foot by 3-foot boulders just to access the RV with his tow truck.
“He would have never made it past anyway because of the rocks in the middle of the road,” Barger said.
Barger said he pulled the RV about 5 feet, just enough to get it back on the road. He then told the driver to follow his wheel tracks as they continued south, past the fallen rocks and to safety.
The driver was apparently upset about miscommunication between the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Forest Service and a previous tow operation, but “once I got there and talked to him like, ‘Hey sorry for the miscommunication but we’re here to get you out,’ he seemed most appreciative,” Barger said.
Upon being freed, the driver called his daughter from the Needles area where he finally had cellphone reception to tell her he was OK.
Barger, who has been towing vehicles for three years in Silverton, ranked Sunday’s tow job among the top five of most crazy rescues he has done.
“Just a vehicle of that size, I think, would put it there,” Barger said. “... The size and the very narrow road. And it was about a 400-foot drop from where he was at. It was very dangerous, and there’s nowhere to turn around, so his only option was to keep on going.”