Yellowknife ice trucking

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by squonker, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

    Joined:
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    It's been a while since I last took the time to post a story, but I have one for tonight - the story of the last trip I did in '04, when we got stormed in at BHP (although we did try to make it out)! I have a few more pics here too. Let's start with a couple of the plows...

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    And one of the road as you draw nearer to the mines. I always thought it looked very lunar up there (but never having actually been to the moon I can't be absolutely sure I'm right)!
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    Getting busy, here!
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    It was April 1st when I set out on my last trip of that year. Although it wasn't really a bad trip compared with some (very few were completely uneventful), what did go wrong began early on. On Charlie's Hill the last guy in our convoy spun out, and I posted a pic of that and told his story in an earlier post. We'd all stopped on the top of the hill anyway, and the first two trucks had already pulled away when buddy asked us to wait because he was stuck. The two lead trucks were already off the portage and onto the lake so they couldn't stop, and myself and Ron, the guy behind me, stayed behind to help the chap who was stuck get moving, then we'd also be there for him to have someone to run with.

    Because of the delay, when we got to Lockhart we had a lightning quick lunch and ended up joining up with the two guys who had gone on ahead again. As we began crossing Mackay Lake one of the guys pointed out a sun dog, a rainbow circling the sun quite a way away from it. This means bad weather coming, apparently, and sure enough within a couple of hours we could tell things were going to get bad. The other trucks turned off to Diavik and I carried on to BHP with Ron bringing up the rear. We'd already decided that we'd get unloaded (I forget what I was carrying, but it was likely prill), grab a bowl of soup and get the hell out of there before things got really bad and we ended up stuck at the mine.

    It was midnight by the time we left and the wind was as strong as I had ever seen it. I remember being surprised that they even let us leave actually, but they gave us the go ahead and we pulled out, yours truely in the lead. We needn't have bothered really. We'd only gone about 2km when I pulled the plug; it was just really, really shitty weather. We could only crawl along at a few kmh because the snow was blowing so hard it was hard to see more than a few feet in front of you, and it was also drifting across the road pretty fast. I wrote in my journal that the visibility was down to 20ft, and of course at the speed we were going the journey back to Lockhart would have taken several hours longer than it should have done. I just wasn't up to fighting this storm for the time it would take us to get down off the high grade and anyway we were in danger of becoming stuck in a drift right there on the road.

    As I made the call, Ron happened to be passing the one wide spot in the road for the next 24km. Of course, if I were a smart man I'd have made the call when I passed it and we both could have turned around. But no, me no smart! Ron turned around and headed back to the mine while I began to get pissed at the prospect of possibly having to keep going for another 24 kms until I knew I'd be able to turn around. After a few mins I had had enough. I couldn't see anything - my trailer in my mirrors, or even the other side of the road, and I was pissed enough to do something dumb. I swung as far to the right as I could, gritted my teeth, clenched my butt cheeks as tight as I could, sucked my stomach in and swung the wheel hard to the left, hoping that I'd be able to turn around before I ran out of road. The turning-circle gods must have been with me even if no-one else was, and I made it by the skin of my teeth. I parked up next to Ron and went to sleep having first had to use eveything I could find to cover my radiator grille up. The wind was blowing head-on towards me and I didn't know this Western Star well enough to be able to tell how it would cope with that while I was snug as a bug in the bunk. I didn't want to have to wake up from the sleep I so desperately needed to have to fight the thing from dying an untimely death due to frostbite of the block! It had taken the best part of two hours to drive the last 4 kms, and it was 2.30am when I finally turned out the light.

    It was no surprise to wake up in the morning and find the road officially closed, but I wasn't even bummed out this time, figuring that it would be my last trip anyway, and there were worse places to be stuck. I spent that day catching up on email, buying some mine souvenirs for friends and family, and shooting the shit with the other stranded drivers. By 9pm I was exhausted, but it was too early to go to sleep so I forced myself to read for a while first. Earlier in the evening I'd seen on the TV that the wind was dropping and I wondered whether the storm was dying down, but once back outside the wind was as strong still as it had been, and I couldn't see us getting out of there that night either. But as it turned out I might as well have gone to sleep when I first felt like it, because at 2am I was woken up with the news that the road was open again. As Ron and I drove toward the dispatch office to sign out, I could feel that one of my trailer brakes was frozen - and I hadn't even set them! The run back to Lockhart was completely uneventful, and I was back in Yellowknife by mid afternoon to confirm that I was indeed done for the season.

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    This the security shack at The Meadows
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    I was never that upset to pull in there and find the convoy ahead hadn't moved away yet (see pic below). It meant I had twenty minutes so check my straps and chains, do some paperwork and drian the main vain before we set off for the 8 hr drive to Lockhart.
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    Cool '80s vintage International rig here. I saw it for two seasons and it never once broke down. Many people wanted to buy it, but it wasn't for sale...
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    Parked at Lockhart
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    Yours truely at Lupin
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  2. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

    Joined:
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    right here on my thermarest
    :lurk

    I'm so glad you're writing this stuff down.
  3. MooseKiller

    MooseKiller Tripod

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    Yep! I am now! Just 2 months late, that's all... :lol3

    GREAT thread!! Not sure how I missed this one! :clap
  4. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Yellowknife, NWT
    Hi Moosekiller - was wondering when you'd show up here! Good to have you along.

    I'm pretty weak this evening - went to the Post Office to do my weekly mail box check, and as I was walking there I thought about how next week I should take my car as I ordered some bike tires. Well, one set had turned up already so I walked back home with a box with a set of KLR tires in it, and although they're not particularly heavy it was a 15 min walk, and now I can't even lift a cup to my mouth without my forearms shaking! What a puss! And I didn't have any gloves on....man, I'd forgotten how much it hurts thawing out your fingers again. Yikes.
    But I have a set of Mefo Explorers now, and I'm well chuffed. You can't even buy those things in Canada so I got mine from Fred at Arrowhead Motorsports and he shipped them USPS for me. I only had to pay $15 duty when I picked them up, so total including shipping was $240 for what I am lead to believe is a fantastic tire. A rear Gripster by itself is +/- $150 in Canada so I'm tickled pink. Can't wait to put them on in April when I dig the bike out from under the snow! I'm glad to see that my Alaska 2008 thread in 'Upcoming' is getting some hits now too - glad to know I'll be meeting some folks that I only know by name right now. Roll on D2D!

    Anyway, you didn't come hear to read about bikes, did you? No, it's trucking time...but I have to be honest, folks, I'm running out of stories. There are plenty of trips I could write up, but nothing happened on them and I dunno if that'd keep you tuning in. The 2005 season seemed so quiet compared with the one before, but I did remember one incident worth recounting. Maybe in '09 while on the road I'll do a kind of Trip Report throughout the season if I have time. Prolly have to be on this thread, though.

    Some pics to begin with. These first two are from Lupin.
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    And this one is on the road to Lupin...
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    Could have sworn I'd already posted this one...
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    So, the first year, once I'd got the 'lay of the land' I tried to run as an 'independent' when I could (not that often thanks to my dispatcher), but it worked better for me. Although there are advantages of running with a regular group of guys you've got to work really well together particularly when it comes to agreeing on how long to sleep for, and where, as well as how far you're going to try and get in the next stint of driving - to Lockhart? All the way to the mine, etc? There was such a bunch of guys that year, but they had a different boss, a guy who was pretty controlling and I didn't get to do as many trips with them as we'd have liked. The advantage of being an 'independent' is that you could tag on to, drop off from, or start your own convoy pretty much whenever it suited you. Perhaps in the middle of the night the road would have been quiet, but a little patience usually paid off it you wanted to go somewhere (and brown nosed the dispatchers at Lockhart and the mines enough)!

    In '05 I ran almost the first 2/3 of the season with the same bunch of guys, and we all worked for the same boss. Carl had about 6 or 7 trucks on the road - James and Neil were running as independents partly 'cos that's the way it worked out at the beginning of the season (and partly because no-one else was overly keen to run with them if they could help it!), and that left Stan, Terry, Don and myself running together most of the time. They were a pretty good bunch - Don and I had a few issues with Stan, but all in all we got along pretty well and worked well as a team. We were all locals, living in Yellowknife, and some of us knew each other anyway. I'd known Terry for a couple of years, and I believe Terry knew Stan already.

    When you're on the road you're supposed to be monitoring Ladd 1 on the UHF radio, listening to who is coming towards you, trying to work out where you're going to pass them, etc. The same goes for knowing who's behind you and various other things - location of Security, for instance (they always have radar guns pointed at you). Really only the convoy leader needs to be doing this, but in theory everyone else should be, and although they'd turn a blind eye if you were crossing a long lake like Gordon or Mackay and you weren't on Ladd 1, at any other time, and especially on a portage, everyone has to be on Ladd 1. Well, Don, Terry, Stan and I would use a pre-arranged channel as our 'chatter' channel, because Ladd 1 was 'business only', but we would bullshit the whole way to and from the mines on our other channel, to the point that we were rarely on Ladd 1, actually. Naughty boys, we were.:huh

    One night Stan, Terry and I were heading south around portage 20 or so in that formation (Stan in the lead, me bringing up the rear). All of us were on the other channel and as I drove onto the portage a 'four wheeler' (civilian pick-up) came up behind me and passed me, towing a ski-doo on a trailer. I'd seen the lights in my mirror and switched to Ladd 1 in case it was Security, but as he passed me and I saw that it was wasn't, I switched back to the chatter channel and carried on bullshitting; but of course I let Terry know that the pick up coming up behind him was 'safe'. Just a couple of minutes later a Security pick-up came past me the other way, but I ignored it because Terry hadn't said anything about it coming, and therefore there was no reason to go to Ladd 1 (other than that I was supposed to be on it while on the portage)!. Well, next thing I know, just as I'm coming off the portage and onto the ice , more four wheeler lights come up behind me. I ignore them, and as he pulls along side me I see that it is Security, having turned around to follow me - and he's beckoning for me to get my ass on the radio. Oops!

    Now, the Security guys on the road are awesome guys, almost to a man. They're almost all ex mounties and they are there to help us, not hassle us. Sure, they'll give you the appropriate amount of grief if you're speeding (depending on how fast you were going and how often you've been busted), but as a rule they are an excellent bunch of guys. There always has to be one exception, of course, and he was right along side me right now. I changed back to Ladd 1 and he was calling my number (we all have to have our truck numbers clearly displayed in our windshields - you've probably noticed it in the pics). "Why weren't you on Ladd 1?" he asks in a not very friendly way. I think I probably said something like, "I was talking to my friends", but I knew I was in the wrong, I was just going to try and get away with it, that's all. He said, "You know you're supposed to be on Ladd 1 on a portage" and I said "Yes, but everyone in this convoy is on the same channel, so we are all communicating with eachother". (This isn't dropping Stan and Terry in it, because they were out on the lake and therefore in a sufficiently grey area). He said that he'd turned around and followed me to let me know that there was a four wheeler in front of me (how could I not know - it had passed me!), and as I already said - I'd let the guy in front of me know. He asked me what the number was of the truck in front of me so I quickly looked up Terry's number (lucky I had it because you only have the numbers of the trucks you're travelling with if you are leading - if I hadn't lead a convoy with him in it before I wouldn't have known and Security would have been even more pissed that he had to go and chase a second truck!). He then started to call Terry on the radio, which I knew was a big waste of time 'cos he was on our own channel, but obviously I wasn't going to tell him that, so I qickly went up there and said, "Terry. Security is calling you on Ladd 1 and he isn't a very happy chappy." Terry came back down (and no doubt Stan did too, to listen in) and Security gave him the same spiel he'd given me, only now he was claiming to have chased the two of us off the portage. Bottom line was that he was writing Terry and I up for not being on Ladd 1, and then he drove off, leaving the three of us to wonder what was up with his attitude on 'our' channel (Security can only listen to Ladd 1 and 2 so we were safe)!

    Well, there is no real harm in being written up - it only affects you in two ways. Of course, get written up too often and you'll get a ban for a few days, but the main way is that every time you do a trip to a mine and it is 'incident free', your truck number (technically your number, not the truck's) gets entered into a draw. Each season Diavik Mine, Ekati Mine, and the Joint Committee (who over-see the running of the road) each put up a $1000 prize. At the end of the season, three numbers are drawn from the hat, and those three drivers win $1000 as a way of saying, "You did good". Obviously the more trpis you do - the more safe trips you do - the better your chances of winning. But.... every incident, such as my being written up on this occasion, means that my number is withdrawn from the draw and you have to start again. Neither Terry or I are the type of have to worry about breaking the rules to the extent that we'd get a suspension, but we were now less likely to win the money (which actually didn't mean shit to me because I had never heard of anyone being awarded it anyway, although of course I would have been very happy to do so).

    I happen to be friends with the head of Security, and the next time I saw him at Lockhart he had seen the report and knew that I'd been busted. I didn't try to say that I was innocent, but I did mention that buddy's attitude had been a bit uncalled for - not sure whether it did any good. Anyway, apparently I'm not that quick a learner, 'cos only about 5 days later I came soooooo close to being busted for the same thing again, on another part of the road. That particular Security guy knew I was not on the right channel and I began to...well, lie basically....and luckily he was too busy to write me up again, but after that I was on Ladd 1 the whole damn time. Terry and Stan could keep each other company, but seeing as I'd had a spotless record in two seasons until just a few days before, and was friends with the head of Security, I was good as gold after that.

    End of story. Some more pics....
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    I think I took this one to try and show what the surface of the road looks like...there had better be a good excuse for taking such an awful picture!
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    Here's a good shot - galute, you still here?
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  5. Longer

    Longer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    168
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    Ottawa, CANADA
    This is fascinating!!! I'm hooked on this thread - good work!

    Longer
  6. joe a

    joe a No Map

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
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    672
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    Lake George NY (sometimes)
    Yup,I'm hooked also.

    Great thread............:thumb
  7. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,163
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    Thanks guys, much appreciated.

    I thought I’d go over the anatomy of a trip today, sort of run through one from start to finish. Every trip is different, of course, but they are all alike, too. Does that make any sense? I thought not. Good.

    But first, some pics...

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    This be one of 'dose 'dere water trucks
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    Here's that lunar landscape up near the mines again. We call this stretch of road 'The 401' (named after major highway in Ontario) because the speed usually picks up on some of these portages. A few are quite long.
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    Ok, so let’s say you’re booked out for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:time Minute="0" Hour="6">6am</st1:time>. That’s a good time to leave ‘cos you’d have had at least part of the night at home (in my case anyway – I keep forgetting about those poor bastards for whom ‘home’ is their truck for two months), and it wouldn’t be much later than about 10.30pm that you get to the mine if things went smoothly. Ok let’s call it 12am, things never go that smoothly! And for the purposes of this trip, we’re going to BHP so we’re happy. (More money and a nicer camp with a more efficient staff). So it would likely have gone something like this…
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    … no dispatcher is going to give you your paperwork until the last minute, so if we’re leaving at 6am you’d call by the office at 5am to pick it up, having first hooked up to your trailer (if you weren’t already), checked everything over and fuelled up. Now you’ve got thirty minutes or so to grab a coffee, and you have to be at Nuna Dispatch twenty minutes before your ‘t-time’. You don’t want to be too late turning up at Nuna either, ‘cos if they’re swamped they’ll tell you you’ve lost your spot and will have to wait until the next one is available - possibly hours away. I’ve never actually seen this happen, but that’s what they say and who am I to argue?! They need that twenty mins to do their own paperwork, for which you have to hand them what your company dispatcher just gave you, and you have a few mins to check your straps/chains, whatever you need. While in the trailer there you sign out on a sheet stating where you’re going, what you’re carrying, your ‘road number’ and what your ‘t-time’ is. This is also when you would find out who you’re traveling with, and decide amongst yourselves who is going to lead the convoy.
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    A convoy has a minimum of two trucks and a max of 4 or 5, depending on various things, but usually it’s 4. They leave every 20 mins. It may be that you’re running with the same group of guys you have been for a while and perhaps there’s only one ‘unknown’ in the convoy, or if you’re an independent then you’ll be the unknown if the others have all run together before, or it could be that you’re all independent and no-one knows anyone else. Deciding who leads the convoy is sometimes quite amusing. A lot of people – probably the majority – don’t want to ‘cos either they’re not comfortable doing so or they just don’t have enough experience to be able to call the shots. (There is no minimum amount of experience needed before you can lead, you’re either comfortable doing so or you’re not, but no-one is going to let you lead if you’ve only ever done say 4 trips. A more experienced driver wouldn’t let you lead in that case, and would do so himself even if he didn’t originally want to). Some guys that have been doing it for years think that it is their job to lead, and there’s no discussion – they tell you they’re leading and that’s that. I don’t have a problem with this because these guys know what they’re doing and are usually good to run with. If they turn out to be cretins you can always just pull over on a portage and join the next convoy (now that reminds me of a story for another day!) Some guys are just control freaks and will actually turn up early and park off to the side out of the way, then, when it’s twenty mins before their ‘t-time’ will move and park in such a way as to block any other trucks from leaving the parking lot, so they have to lead. Not much you can say to someone like that. Personally I like to lead because then I can set the pace. You’d be surprised how many people like to drive under the speed limit, or seem to have no concept of the idea that they are paid by the trip, and that therefore the sooner they get home again, the sooner they can get out again. I’m not talking about breaking any rules, but some of these people seem to think they’re on holiday. I’m comfortable following if there’s a ‘known’ leading, but every time you’re in a convoy with a new person leading you always wonder what they’re like. At Nuna dispatch you get to meet them and form an opinion, but if you’re at Lockhart, say, and you hear a convoy pulling out and want to join on the tail end, you never know what you’re in for. Sometimes you can tell pretty quick by the talk on the radio. If the guy leading is asking everyone their names and road numbers you know he’s done it before’ cos he’s writing them down. But if you read my post about when I went into the snow bank, that leader didn’t even know I wasn’t there anymore. He likely had his knuckles rapped for that, but I don’t know.
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    Hey, this is going to be a super-sized post if I keep going. This seems like a good place to stop for now, and I’ll continue soon.

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    This looks suspiciously like a school bus. Must be a flooding bus.
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    Chasing my own shadow
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    Lockhart
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  8. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    105,216
    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
  9. gsd4me

    gsd4me 90% bluff

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
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    Keep on posting whatever, whenever you can Squonker, you have a fan base here.

    I see that the trucks are very lightly loaded. Suppose that`s the way it has to be when travelling over ice. What method do you use to get the pallets of drums etc to the the rear of the pan for unloading by the forklift?

    Here in Australia at the moment we are having a bitch session about moderators editing posts, the inclusion of non bike content and here`s your thread, up to ten pages, I think you`ve mentioned your bike twice and it`s still going strong. Looks like it was a good idea from the moderator to keep your thread in it`s regional area. Those of us, like myself who are interested can continue to visit your thread and it doesn`t get buried by the huge number of posts at "ride reports".
  10. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,163
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    Good man, Klay.

    Whatever I can, whenever I can? Ooh, the pressure! I do see that the thread has had more hits in the last 48 hours than it has for a long time. That's good though, and we're over 5000 hits now. Thanks everyone. I'll see how long I can drag out this 'Anatomy of a Trip' thing.

    The trucks are loaded according to the weight limit at the time. As the season progresses and the ice thickens the weights go up, and to be honest I have no interest in how much my load weighs unless it's either very light (I took a load of box springs up to Diavik one day - hardly even registered on my guage), or very heavy - not sure what the heaviest load I've hauled on the ice is, but I know that that load of tires I took (the one that's in about 17,000 photos) was over the limit by a wee bit. Shhh - don't tell anyone. There's a pic earlier on in the post of a rig that had gone into the snowbank. He was pulling a tri axle flat bed, yet only had 12 one tonne bags of cement on - and that's nothing, at the beginning of the season they'd only been hauling 6! It depends on the number of axles you have too, of course.

    Getting the pallets of drums to the back of the trailer? A chain wrapped around the fork rack, with a hook on the far end. One chap stays in the trailer and unwraps the chain then hooks it on the next pallet. Loader backs up, dragging the pallet with him. Buddy in the trailer signals him to stop, then the loader comes forward again and the trailer guy wraps the chain back up around the rack. Now the loader can get the pallet with his forks - Bob's your uncle.

    Not sure about your mods - to be honest I've never even been to your regional forum. Before I started this I PM'd a mod and asked whether I could post it in Trip Reports. He said try GWN, and he were are. Makes no difference to me where I post it - people seem to be reading it anyway. And yeah, I mentioned my bike a couple of times just so that no one can say there's no bike content at all! KLR - there you go, three mentions now!

    Ok, some quick pics before I do anything else, starting with what I believe (and hope!) are the last two of that load of bloody tires. It must have been the first trip I took a camera with me or something.
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    Streuth, that's a big loader.
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    This is on the way back from Lupin. We'd spotted this un-frozen stream on the way up, and pretended to be having truck problems so that we could stop for a couple of minutes and investigate it when we came back again.
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    Having decided who’s going to lead, when the dude in the Nuna dispatch trailer gives you the ok, it’s a <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1:place>Le Mans</st1:place></st1:City> type start with everyone piling out the door and hopping in their rigs. (Chocks away first), and in general we’re parked in such a way (there are actually charts up on the wall telling us the correct way to park at Lockhart, I thought it was quite funny. If I remember, I’ll scan one and post it) that there’s only really one order we can pull away in, anyway. From dispatch it’s about 1 Km ‘till the Ingraham Trail. There’s a stop sign there, and as the lead truck makes the left turn, he’ll call out “Four trucks north on the Ingraham Trail”. From then on he has to call every other kilometer. Southbound trucks will do the same thing and the idea is that when the road gets narrower, you won’t get a nasty surprise when you come round a corner at 70 km/h and find another truck barreling towards you with no room to pass. As we get really close to another convoy we start calling out every kilometer, and often the two leaders will say, “I guess we’re about to meet up” or something. If it comes to it, northbound trucks have right of way, and sometimes – when the leader of the southbound convoy is really nice, he’ll actually have all his guys pull over for you. Gotta love that. Also, trucks are supposed to be spaced out 1 km apart on the trail, so it can take a while for two convoys to pass each other. Often the spacing gets messed up too - one guy is too keen and another is a bit scared – so as leader you’d talk back to the guys behind you. “Just coming up to the first truck now. Big gap between between #s 2 and 3. Driver of third truck is unusually ugly etc.”
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p> </o:p>
    It takes about an hour to get to the end of the Ingraham Trail, and the beginning of the ice at <st1:place><st1:placeName>Tibbett</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Lake</st1:placeType></st1:place>. The turning comes up quite suddenly and it’s not unheard of for a truck to sail right on past it, and that’s a b.i.t.c.h. ‘cos the turnaround isn’t big enough for a set of trains, and to have back ‘em up a kilometer, in the dark, around a corner….I know I couldn’t do it. Anyway, assuming you made the turn….you have to slow right down ‘cos once you’re on the ice (and you are now), it’s 25km/h. You cross two lakes, both pretty short, and you’re at The Meadows in about 10 mins. The Meadows is another dispatch point, where the spacing is corrected again, meaning that for whatever reason, if the convoys are no longer spaced 20 mins apart…well, they will be once more ‘cos Meadows Security won’t let you go until 20 mins after the previous convoy. I actually like stopping at The Meadows ‘cos it means I have to time to check my straps and chains without feeling rushed. Or with feeling rushed if, once you pull in and the leader tells Security the numbers of the rigs he’s leading, Security then says, “10-4 . You’ll be leaving at 7.17, so…you have 4 minutes.” That sucks. I really like to make sure my chains and straps are good to go, because it’s 8 hours to Lockhart when I’ll be able to check them again. And the section of road between The Meadows and Lockhart is the roughest and most banked, so if your load is going to shift it’ll be then. You could stop and re-tighten a chain or something along the way, but unless you were super quick you’d likely have to wait for the next convoy and join them. Depends on the leader – he might say we’re all stopping for 5 mins, or he might say we can’t because the following convoy is too close. Or he may just not care about your problems. We all have those days, right?
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Shoot. We haven’t even really left The Meadows yet and I’m already at one post’s worth of drivel. Ok. Security has called us and said that we’re free to go. We’re outa here. So am I. Next post…<o:p></o:p>

    [​IMG]

    Very strange to be the only tuck at Diavik - certainly the only time this ever happened to me.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  11. bone

    bone Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    101
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    My first taste of the True North was flying into YK in early january, 2000 for an 8-month stay. I took a job up there just to see what up there was like, and stepping out of the plane into -40C temperatures the air literally hit me in the chest and took my breath away. I spent the next couple of days exploring and then the next week after that in bed getting over a cold and sore throat that the incredibly dry air wouldn't permit to heal any other way.

    I freaking LOVE the north now! And this thread is AWESOME!

    I'll say this too: later on in my stay I flew home and returned by car and the drive up to YK from Alberta blew my mind - so long and straight and monotonous, it truly for the first time gave me the ridiculous sense of scale that characterizes Canadian geography. I'm sure trucking the ice roads up to Diavik (as an aside, I worked on the designs of some of their buildings briefly, including the residence building - ain't it ugly?!) would've blown my mind even further. Just seeing a town with a skyline of sorts emerge from the neverending flatness of the scrub forest that far north, I felt like I was hallucinating....

    Unfortunately all my photos from up there aren't digitized so I can't share... Amongst others I had a real good one of a skinned dog that someone had set up in the snowbank along an ice road somewhere up the Ingraham Trail so that the dog was 'pointing' the way ahead.

    Sorry for interrupting your stories with my blather - you just got me going with this fantastic thread. Thanks!!!
  12. gsd4me

    gsd4me 90% bluff

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,867
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Just back from the shops where I purchased a copy of the Oct 07 Brit magazine "truck & driver". It was a couple of months late. Inside is an article of ice trucking around your neck of the woods. Probably the same one that was sent to you, as they mention the constant ice cracking, two months work, ten months fishing etc.

    No doubt the author was fed a line by the drivers he spoke with. It would be impossible to get a proper feel for the place in the short time he was there.

    Nice pics of a couple of Peterbilts in the article though. I`ve always liked them, as well as W model and most other Kenworths, despite what I have said previously about American trucks.
  13. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,163
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    You're dead right, bone - the drive up from Alberta is quite an experience! The first few times I did it I was blown away...what always gets me is that any track I see leading off the highway, I have to know where it goes! And there are soooo many. Man, some are little more than clearings, some go to oil/gas developments 100+kms in to the bush, and some I've never found the end of. You could spend a lifetime exploring and documenting those things.
    But I have to say that the drive gets a bit much now. I drive from YK to Vancouver Island about once every 18 months and I'm a little bored of it now. the first time I did it, it took me four days. Now I have it down to 2.5, but I have a weee Honda Civic, and I'm sure with a V8 or even a V6 I could cut half a day off. I did just get another satellite radio, so I hope that'll make it more interesting next time. I'd love to take my parents on a drive from even Edmonton to YK, but they're too old now and wouldn't enjoy it. You just can't imagine the scale of the land up here until you've seen it for yourself (as you said).

    Thanks for your observations - and glad that you're enjoying the thread!

    I tried a few times to contact the newspaper that article was in, and never got a reply. In the end I sent the article to a friend's 10yr old son, who's mind it will probably blow. I was talking about it last night in the bar with some folks that were here from YK and one of them made a good point. Not only that ice roads are a part of life in the north and once you've driven a couple you'll never understand what all the fuss was about, but also that that one road costs $10m to build every year...and every year it melts and they have to start again. Cool!

    I'll put up the next part of the trip installment sometime over the weekend.

    Cheers, y'all.:beer
  14. tsilliker

    tsilliker Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    London, Ontario
    This thread has been excellent reading. Great way to kill an afternoon!

    I have been wanting to drive to Nunavut potentially for a newspaper article. How far is gasoline available?

    Keep up the excellent posts!
  15. galute

    galute are we there yet?

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Bald Knob, Arkansas
    I'm still with ya squonker, great thread as always. Loved the snow plow pics. Keep em coming. :clap :ear
  16. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,163
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    tsilliker - thanks for the kind words about the thread. Can't help you with wanting to drive to Nunavut, though, as there ain't no roads to get there on! What kind of thing were you hoping to do? I've only been to Nunavut twice - once when I took the ice road to Lupin Mine, and the second time was on that Herc trip that I wrote about in this thread. Iqualuit is the capital, but you have to fly there. If you were thinking more of this part of the country, though, I'll help however I can.
    Thanks for posting!
  17. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,163
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    Hey galute - I knew you'd like those pics when I posted them! Glad to see you're still around.

    These are carcasses left behind by 'Weekend Warriors' - local hunters.
    [​IMG]

    Weekend Warriors
    [​IMG]

    Almost a whiteout
    [​IMG]

    So we’re on the move. We left town at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:time Hour="6" Minute="0">6am</st1:time> so it’s probably 7.15, maybe <st1:time Hour="7" Minute="30">7.30am</st1:time> when we pull out of the Meadows. The first few lakes are all small ones, and you’re sort of settling in to the trip for the first little while. I always found I was on portage 8 or 10 or so before I was in the right headspace.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p> </o:p>
    The first thing you’d look at, once moving, is your speed. It is the leader of the convoy’s job to set the pace at 25km/h. Of course no two tachos are going to give identical readings, and some are analogue, some are digital…some guys go by GPS rather than the tach…whatever you want to use, you are the one setting the pace, and everyone behind you needs to understand that. I remember one trip when back at Nuna Logistics I’d asked, “Who wants to lead” and everyone said no – which was fine with me – but when we got onto the ice I noticed the truck behind me dropping further and further back. After a while he called me on the radio and said that if I were to look in my mirrors, I’d notice him way back, and that his tach said he was doing 25 km/h, and why was I going so fast and would I slow down to let him catch up? Oh boy, where do I start? Well, first of all I’d asked this guy if he wanted to lead and he’d said no, so that’s the first reason he should shut up. Secondly, I don’t care what his tach reads or how fast he thinks I’m going, it’s not his job to monitor speed, so that’s reason number 2. His job, as second in the convoy, is to maintain the correct 0.5 km spacing between himself and the truck in front – i.e. me. If I am speeding and he’s worried about being busted, he needn’t be because as leader it’ll be me that is written up, not him. So I replied, with amazing diplomacy, I thought, that he needed to do his job, not mine, and that he should pick it up a bit and close the gap between us when we hit the next portage. I said it nicely, but I wasn’t impressed. A friend further back in the convoy complimented me when we got to Lockhart – he said he’d have told the guy to fuck off, outright! Although the speed limit is the same on ice or land, it is accepted that you can pick it up a klick or two on a portage if you need to.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    So that would be your second job – to make sure that the guy behind you is the correct distance behind you. Sometimes if you’re going in to a corner and there’s a long straight stretch behind you, you can see the whole convoy in your mirror and you can see if there are any gaps that are too big or too small, and ask someone to open or close it up. It's really neat to see four trucks even spaced out behind you in the mirror - always makes me smile. Security will tell you if they think a gap is too big or two small, too.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    <st1:City><st1:place>Portage 10 is a few kilometers long and it's a nice drive through a wooded area. One evening in '05 it was dusk and I was heading south on 10 and there was a pack of wolves feeding on something just 10 feet off the road. Dome Lake maintenance camp is on #10, too, and occasionally one of the workers will be out for a stroll along the portage. Brave man! </st1:place></st1:City>
    <st1:City><st1:place></st1:place></st1:City>
    <st1:City><st1:place>Portage</st1:place></st1:City> 18 is an important one. It’s only very small – it may fit three trucks parked nose to tail on it at a stretch – but it’s the last one before Gordon Lake, which is a 90 minute ‘one movie’ lake, and usually the leader will ask if anyone wants to stop on 18 to make a pit stop. Or if he needs to go himself, he’ll tell you you’re stopping. The convoy will always stay together, so in most circumstances you’re either all going to stop, or no-one is.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Ok, <st1:place><st1:placeName>Gordon</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Lake</st1:placeType></st1:place> is a good place to break right now. Let’s all stop on 18 and pick it up in a few days!

    Typical view out of the window...when it's not frosted over....
    [​IMG]

    ...like this, and you can't see anything at all!
    [​IMG]

    Begging for food
    [​IMG]
  18. joe a

    joe a No Map

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2005
    Oddometer:
    672
    Location:
    Lake George NY (sometimes)
    Squonker,
    As galute said a couple of posts back,"I'm still with ya".



    :thumb


    Back in my younger days we did a lot of winter mountaineering.
    Week long trips,snoshoes,igloos,telemark skis,frozen nose-toes-fingers etc.,etc.

    However,,,, you guys are at another level...........:bow
  19. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    105,216
    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
  20. tsilliker

    tsilliker Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    London, Ontario
    I meant to say I wish to drive there on the ice roads. :)

    Will they let me? Gas available?

    Many thanks, and keep up with the great pics!