STI nose, pre-mud.

Thirty minutes later, the snow was gone. Fifteen seconds later, the car was filthy.

Slightly sideways.

More slightly sideways.

General-brand snow tires plus small studs plus big-ass rally wheels equals damn decent traction in mud. Whodathunkit?

More miles, more mud.

An STI returning from battle. (The pod sticking off the car is someone's GoPro Hero camera. Excellent camera, by the way.)

The name badges for the event consisted of fold-over stickers that resembled lift tickets.

Borrowed open-face rally helmet? Check. Borrowed car? Check. Borrowed bravery? Check. What could go wrong? (As a journalist in attendance said shortly after setting off a WRX's airbag and climbing onto a snowmobile, "I'm an automotive journalist. If I can't crash it, it doesn't exist.")

This is James Tate, formerly of Sport Compact Car and currently with Popular Mechanics. Do not taunt the Tate. Do not feed the Tate. He likes oversteer and long walks on the beach, and he would like you to move to the next picture. Move along.

This jacket belongs to Carter Jung of Import Tuner. There were at least five separate moments during the event where I contemplated knocking him out and stealing it.

Subaru PR man and Alfa Romeo lover (why does that sound dirty?) Dominick Infante. He is scratching someone's back with a white flag. This, folks, is service.

Impromptu fix.

Utah is dirty.

The world's daintiest tow hook.

The cockpit of a WRX.

An STI viewed over the nose of a mud-spattered WRX.

"Is that a journalist at the wheel? Shit! Run!"

What is it about rally wheels? Why do they look both indestructible and hopelessly fragile at the same time?

Swapping tires on an Impreza. Yes, the car in the background has a blown side-curtain airbag. No, you don't want to know how it happened. (And no, it wasn't me.)

A mud-spattered STI and an open door? Who could say no to that?

Hills, setting sun, end of day.