It was the day after Christmas, in the year 2003. A young family of four, a mother and father, and a daughter and son. As a present from Santa, they received snowshoes the day previous. The children, and parents as well, couldn't wait to go out into their favorite place, the great outdoors, and use the newly opened gifts. The family packed up and drove up to their favorite canyon, and went to a place called Aspen Grove. Many family memories had been shared there, and this was just going to be another great one to add.
They unloaded, and got on their way. The father knew his cell phone would have no service up this canyon, but after the family had ventured off a ways, he had a strong urge to go back and get his phone. He obeyed this prompting, not knowing why.
The family continued on.
Throughout the course of their snowshoe trek, little things kept holding the family back; the little girl had a bloody nose, the boy kept making his own trails, going off the main path. All of these making the hike much longer than necessary. After a while, the father noticed on the side of the mountain that there were some snowboarders up in the middle of the mountain, and doing some back-country boarding. He felt the impression to count how many there were. He counted 6. The impression came again to count; a double-check.
He now counted 7.
Immediately this father recognized that these young teenagers were in an avalanche chute. An extremely dangerous place to be in, as the night before had received several feet of new snow. He started to worry for his family, but tried to think nothing of it, and to enjoy the time spent with his family.
All of a sudden, the girl decided to look up at the top of the mountain above the snowboarders. She asked her father,
"Dad, what is that?"
A billowing cloud of snow was racing a hundred miles an hour down the mountain side; rumbling like the sound of an earthquake, and the word death written across it.
Death was a sudden reality, the parents of this family knew, and soon the children realized it too. The father yelled, "RUN!" and they ran. They ran as fast as they could through feet of snow, and made it about 20 feet further. They crouched down, made pockets in the snow for air, and waited for the avalanche to cover them.
Wind speeds up to 80 mph, rock and debris being flung about like nothing; their lives flashed before their eyes, even the young children.
And they were not covered.
The family stood up; they were in a completely different landscape, nothing was recognizable. Instantly the father pulled out his phone, prayed for a miracle, and called 911.
The call went through. He was connected to 911, and immediately got ahold of search and rescue and told them of the disaster. Just as he finished the call, another rumbling started.
A second avalanche was on its way. There was no time for anything else but to have God on this family's side. The family knelt in the snow and said a prayer, thinking that it could be their last together.
As the second avalanche approached, they had no time to move, so they did the same as before, and hoped not to be covered as expected.
The second one passed, and the family was not covered in snow.
Now the family knew that they needed to get back or they would surely die. But in order to do that, they needed to cross the avalanche path, a dangerous place to be, and in the wide open. They decided to do so, rather than continue forward into the bowl where more avalanches could break. The family made it about three quarters of the way across, when they heard a large "BOOM" and felt the ground drop; the snow settle into place.
A third was coming. And it felt like the largest of them all. This time the family was in the wrong place, right in the middle of where the flow would deposit. They would surely be covered this time around.
They were proved wrong, for a third time. Not covered at all, but only by debris and blown snow, but not the snow pack of the avalanche.
The family ran for the trees, and made it back to the parking lot where they met with Search & Rescue; alive.
The 7 snowboarders disappeared after the first slide. Search & Rescue, along with the father, went out to search for the lost boys. Four were able to dig themselves out. Three were killed.
This was my family.
I was the little girl, just 8 years old.
My brother was only 6.
"The avalanche covered an area the width of three city blocks and a half-mile long with as much as 14 feet of snow..." (CNN news).
The avalanche hit near the end of a storm that dumped 29 inches of snow in the Sundance area in 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service. (LA Times).
This is exactly the picture I remember in my head. And this is a picture of my avalanche, the one I was in.
This is the Search & Rescue team, my dad included, looking for the missing boys.
So many other details aren't included in this, and yet I think this is enough. There are countless news articles, newscasts, and even the 911 call that my dad made on the internet; I've heard and seen them myself.
I thank my Lord that I survived this disaster, and know that I did for a reason. There was no possible way, when you look back, that my family was supposed to live through that. Somehow, we did. Greater things were meant for us; I plan on achieving something great one day. This story just proves that I am destined to.