A Quattro Tale
The weekend of February 6, 1999 was an interesting one for me and my '98 A4 2.8 quattro. In the middle of a raging Oregon snowstorm, I made it up and down Mt. Bachelor and survived the snow and ice covered roads down to Crater Lake country. This adds about a dozen times that quattro and the Nokian Hak 1 snow tires have pulled me out of some very desperate situations.
Leading up to Crater Lake National Park from the south, the state highway was down to a 4-5 foot wide single track covered with about 1 foot of snow. This was due to the 20-foot high powder banks which had collapsed onto the road.
I knew that it was really bad when the snow started coming over the front and roof of my A4. When I stopped to figure out exactly in which direction I was going, I got stuck and was unable to open any of the doors due to the window-high snow banks on both sides for the car. Of course, there was no way of turning around.
There didn't appear to be any hope of seeing a rational human being anytime soon, so taking stock of my dwindling supply of cookies, I attempted to move forward. Happily, the quattro and Nokians pulled me through in heroic scale. But it wasn't a time to feast on my limited supply of cookies, because the snow was still coming down so hard that I could barely see. I later found out that about 5 feet of snow fell in this area during this weekend.
Figuring that the park couldn't be too far up ahead, I kept charging through the snow. Eventually, I came to a jumbo 4x4 truck that was stuck. I was pretty relieved to see another human, even if that person was blocking my path. He'd been there for over an hour, but unlike me, he at least had the sense to have a 2-way radio on board. After getting him dug out, I continued to plow ahead, but all the signs were buried in the snow and I couldn't really tell where the roads were leading.
Eventually I ended up at the historic Crater Lake Lodge and visitor center, which of course was completely unrecognizable from the previous summertime visit. The two remaining park staff were pretty shocked to see me. I was the first, and only, visitor to Crater Lake that day. In fact, they had just finished unburying themselves from the center.
After warming up at the visitor center for awhile, it was time to get back on the road down. I shortly discovered that some pine trees that had fallen in the high winds blocked the road. Luckily, since my A4 isn't a big, fat sport utility vehicle, I was able to break off the top parts of the trees and squeeze on by.
When I finally came busting out of this road, which I discovered had been closed, there was a park ranger who suggested that I try and visit the visitor center again when the road opened. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him that I just came from the visitor center - he couldn't believe that I actually made it down in my deceptive little A4 quattro.
This was definitely one of the most incredible rides I have ever taken, even though I never actually got to the lake. But it is not a ride I would recommend repeating without a 2-way radio, and certainly not alone. I'm glad I didn't get to test the airbags by running into an oncoming plow. Still, I think this would have made an excellent commercial for the benefits of the Audi quattro system. I also hope that it allays all fears of getting the Sport Package for use in the snow, just make sure that you have a good set of snow tires on your car also.
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