Mine was an unusual puberty. Beginning at 14, I spent my summers serving my automotive apprenticeship in Florida and New York. But it was those long New Hampshire winters that defined who I would become. As soon as I turned 14 I got my Social Security number and applied for a Job at Frontenac Ski area. I worked there for the next 4 years until I graduated high school.
The Greer's became my second family and helped me acquire many skills including; driving a bulldozer, cutting ski trails cooking and social skills. But more so it was an education on other things mechanical besides cars. I bring this up as it was their driveway that turned me into a Rally Master. That 300 feet of road up to the base lodge was not only steep, but unpaved and too steep to plow. To make it you had to go up when it was hard packed, for during a snow fall you had to steer off Route 25 at 50 mph or better to drift your way up to the top. Many a cars had to be dragged out using the Dozer, a Cat D4.
There were many secondary and some primary roads that would not be plowed, remain closed all winter. My partner in this particular adventure was Neil McIver. Neal was a year ahead of me in school and was the son of a prominent community Doctor. Considered a "very good boy" Neal had an evil side and much to his mothers chagrin, he was a Motor Head. Neal acquired my mom's friends 1957 VW that in short order had received a warmed over 1500 cc engine and some suspension upgrades. Like wise, I had modified my Mom's new 66 VW with sway bars, camber compensator, Koni shocks and lowered it 2 inches. Oh I forgot I also installed a very nice little supercharger and an Abarth exhaust.
In Northern New Hampshire if you want to move around in winter you better be equip t with studded snow tires at least two for the driving wheels, four is even better. The last time we would see the bare ground was in November and the snow banks would build up over the winter until April. It had snowed all night this day in mid February, Neal called me and asked me if I wanted o go for a ride. It was one of those days when the beauty of the country bathed in bright sunlight and fresh fallen snow takes your breath away with the contrast of the bright blue sky and white everywhere else.
The snow plows were still clearing the main roads and most secondary roads and driveways were yet to be cleared on this early morning. Neal in his 57 and me in the 66 VW's made our way out of town crossing the Holderness bridge up to Mt Prospect Road, a secondary paved road that had yet to see a plow. As we slithered north with Neal leading, this was just the transition road for what was to come. About 4 miles later Neal turns right and I now know where he is leading us. Smith Road is one of those roads that portions of it are closed and not plowed in the winter. The road is the demarcation line separating National Forrest land from the small farms that are serviced by Smith Road to the south.
The problem with adventures is there is always a catch. In this case it is that as soon as you turn off Mt. Prospect Road You have to accelerate flat out to gain enough momentum to make it to the top of the initial 45 degree 200 foot climb. The real challenge is driving around the Road Closed barricades by stratleing the snow banks. But wait there is more, before the barricades you have to blast by the local Park Rangers house and hope he does not get you plate number or get off a shoot!
Thanks to Neal's very loud stinger exhaust the ranger did hear us accelerating towards his house. But luck was with us as we passed safely and began the climb up the steep hill that also turns right. Once at the top the road is level and rooster tails of snow are flying into the air as we blast down the meandering part of Smith Road before having to brake hard for the first right turn that marks the beginning of where the Farms are. We see the residents of the first farm on the left as we make the nearly 90 degree turn and wave at them as they prepare to clear their driveway. A short straight and 90 degree left and I see the farmer on the right running towards the road waving, I wave back. The gravel road beneath us has not yet been plowed, we accelerate down a short straight where we enter a blind dogleg to the left at close to 70mph.
Even to this day the next few seconds unfold in slow motion much as it did when it happened. No more than 100 feet in front of us, heading in our direction was the biggest V plow I had ever seen. Snow was flying to both side and a wave of snow was flying forward too. There was no way to stop this train wreck, Neal cut his wheel to the right and went up the snow bank on the plows drivers side. I steered to my left and climbed the snow bank on th passengers side. I can clearly remember the look of horror on the plow drivers face and the passenger with his hands over his face.
Our momentum and an Angel kept us balanced on the top of the snow bank and when we passed we came back down on to the road and kept on going until we got home.