Clifton Vial, 52, climbed into the cab of his Toyota Tacoma on Monday night in Nome to see how far a road winding to the north would take him.
More than 40 miles out of town, at about 9:30 that night, he found out. As Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” played on the stereo and temperature dipped well below zero in the darkness, Vial’s pickup plunged into a snowdrift.
“I made an attempt at digging myself out and realized how badly I was stuck,” Vial told The Anchorage Daily News. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a $30 jacket from Sears. “I would have been frostbit before I ever got the thing out of there.”
Vial found himself alone near Salmon Lake, on a road that doubles as a snowmachine trail in the winter and stretches inland from the Bering Sea city. Far beyond the reach of his cellphone, Vial slipped into a fleece sleeping bag liner and wrapped a bath towel around his feet. He occasionally started the truck to run the heater and listen to the radio.