Updated 11:59 p.m.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
There’s no place like home.
A half dozen young people from Morton will quite probably bypass any snowman building tomorrow after a miserable unexpected overnight stay inside their truck near the Mount Adams Wilderness area.
Victoria House, 21, and her boyfriend Jason Toups, 22, along with four of their friends piled into two pickups late Saturday night to take a drive to the Orr Creek Snow Park south of Randle.
“We just wanted to go up there and see, just go up in the snow,” House said yesterday.
They saw the snow park and headed back toward home, taking the Forest Service Road that led to Packwood.
But the snow was so deep the Dodge pickup got stuck, and then the Ford F-150 did the same some 120 yards further up the road, House said.
Toups and Kory Holmes tried repeatedly to dig out the vehicles and finally gave up out of exhaustion, Toups said. They had a shovel with them, but it wasn’t enough, according to Toups.
House was only dressed for sight-seeing, slippers because of a healing broken ankle, and sweats. She had brought her “Romeos” shoes along though, she said.
Even with six of them spending the long night inside one truck together, and periodically starting the engine to fire up the heater, it still felt like being inside an ice box, House said.
“The hardest part for me was being hungry,” House said.
Her friends fed her cough drops; she’s pregnant and while she’d eaten dinner before they departed, she promptly had thrown it up, she said.
They fired off a gun, to get anyone’s attention, but nobody came.
When daylight came Sunday morning, the “boys” attempted again to dig out their trucks to no avail, House said.
House, Michelle Holmes, Tajha Franz and Sarah Amber Lopes stayed behind, while the young men set out to hike back to the snow park.
Toups estimated they walked about four miles when they came upon a a dog sledder. He left to get help, and it wasn’t long before a pack of snow mobilers roared up, according to Toups.
Four of the snow mobilers went to retrieve the women and they all met back in a little fireplace-warmed cabin at the snow park where they they were fed soup and chili.
About the same time, a sheriff’s deputy was headed down to Walupt Lake where someone had heard they may have been going the night before.
A fish and wildlife officer showed up around 3 p.m. and the six of them got back on the road, in the trucks of strangers, to make their way to the Randle Fire Hall, House said.
None of them got frost bite, and only House went to the hospital, because of concerns about her pregnancy.
Toups offered this advice to those who travel on on snowy roads: “Be prepared, take clothes, a shovel,” he said. “Be prepared to stay the night if you have to.”
House would bring even more for another outing, she said.
“Take food, water, blankets, shoes, and tell more than one person where you’re going,” she said. “And, and estimated time you’ll be back.”
The National Weather Service is forecasting a major snow storm beginning tonight in Western Washington with the largest snow accumulations – besides in the mountains – to occur in greater Lewis County.
Somewhere between four or six to 14 inches of snow accumulations are expected in the southwest interior – that means places such as Olympia, Chehalis, Onalaska, Toledo, Pe ell, Oakville, Lacey and Tumwater, according to meteorologist Ted Buehner.
A warning issued this afternoon for the west slopes of the Cascade Mountains suggests two to three feet of new snow could fall there by tomorrow evening.
By just after 11 p.m., the warning indicated slightly less snowfall, suggesting 5 to 10 inches in the southwest interior.
The main impact is expected to be extreme travel difficulties.
Major interstates will be hazardous, secondary roads will be treacherous to impassable, according to the weather service.
Buehner said today there is the possibility of freezing rain south of Olympia, probably in the afternoon tomorrow.
If you must travel tomorrow, weather people warn, carry an extra flashlight, and yes, food, water and blankets.
The snow is currently expected to start taper off tomorrow night and warming may begin on Friday.
The state Department of Transportation says:
• Drivers can prepare for snow and ice by checking travel and roadway conditions on the WSDOT website and packing winter weather supplies, including tire chains.
• For travelers or non-travelers, that means it is decision time. Staying in? Have a full tank of gas, just in case. Going out? Pack tire chains and a winter car kit and drive for conditions.
Read “Search underway for group missing outside Randle since last night” from Sunday January 15, 2012, here