Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by squonker, Sep 18, 2007.
Sorry, I'm a bit slow at the best of times! PM on its way.
Just heard that two or three days ago a 27 yr old Alberta man was killed when his pick up went through the ice 100km north of Yellowknife. This was not on the Tibbett to Contwyoto road, as far as I know. He was working for an exploration company, three of them were in the truck collecting wood with which to build some sort of a shelter from which they could ice fish. The truck went through and two guys managed to jump out, suffering only frostbite. The third man went down with the truck and is presumed drowned.
Oh man, if you were camping, using wall tents that you had to cut down trees to make frames for....I had to that last winter in -30c. We were only out there for two nights, but this winter I have to do it for 12 nights. I am not happy at the prospect...anyway, if that's what you were doing you had it 100X tougher than I had it sitting on my arse in a heated cab with a CD playing...kudos to you, dude.
View of the road south from Lockhart
Why did I take this picture?!
I dont think Ive ever heard of anyone falling asleep on <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1lace><st1laceName>Gordon</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace>, but some people do complain that at 1.5 hrs to get across, its boring. Funny, Ive never once had a problem of any kind with it, but within the first hour of being on <st1lace><st1laceName>Mackay</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> Im stir crazy. Strange. I always have a big selection of CDs with me, and theres Sirius too also your mates to bullshit with, or new friends to make if youre running with people you havent met before. Often a voice from somewhere behind you will start yakking at you on the longer lakes, and most of the guys you meet up there are top notch.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o> </o>
There are some who want to speed, but dont want to lead (and therefore risk being busted), so they start to call you and say, Youre only doing 23, pick it up will ya? Theyre hoping to make better time of course, and know full well that its you as leader wholl get the grief when security catches you. But youd have to be pretty insecure to fall for that, I reckon, and anyway on the first trip each time Im in a new truck I get Security to zap me with a radar gun, and I can get a handle on how accurate my speedo is, so thats what you can counter them with. And even those guys are pretty good guys most of the time, theyre just seeing what they can get away with and who here doesnt do that every once in a while?!
At the far end, portage 19, you might want to make a pit stop if you didnt on number 18, and then theres not much of interest until Charlies Hill, which is number 25 if I remember correctly. Coming off 24 is often a little slippery, then its about 1 km until you make a right hander, and then youre on the approach to Charlies. Its about another kilometer to the base of the hill Id think, maybe a little more, and about half way across that Ill get on the radio and ask if anyones coming down Charlies. Ok then, five trucks up Charlies Hill, and its time to grab a couple of gears and get some speed up. Oh, and lock all the diffs up, too, first. Usually 40 km/h is ample to make it, but I guess it depends a bit how many horse power you have and how heavy your load is. The first time I drove that Western Star I had an extra trailer to pull, but 120hp less than I was used to and I was doing at least 50km/h Im sure. The thing is to make the least number of shifts possible while youre climbing the hill (and preferably none at all), cos thats where youll come to grief. Security wont stop you if you need to take a run up at Charlies its the one place you can blatantly disregard the speed limit and not have to worry about it (although I will confess that the idea of 100,000lbs rolling along at 50 km/h on the ice does concern me a little for those few moments)! I used to wait until a few minutes after Id made it up and then call the last guy to see if he had too, but these days I just figure someone will let me know if they didnt make it.
And now youre up Charlies. One guy I know always stops at the top (wheres theres ample parking) for ten minutes to let his dog out for a piss. Some guys just stop for five for a break, and Ive done that before stretch the legs sort of thing. It depends how I feel. Theres a little
pond, I guess it is
at the top in the middle of the portage there which sometimes has a 10km/h speed limit on it, and when thats the case there will always be security there with a radar gun. You have to be on the case when you come flying over the top of the hill because if that reduced limit is there you have to slow down in quite a hurry. But its very do-able, I think most of my problem with it is just that I dont like slowing down.
The most handsome man on the road!
Just a quick post tonight because my DVD of the show has come and I'm taking the evening to watch it. I'm excited, but not expecting to be very impressed, from all the exagerrated stories I've heard. It'll be fun, though, I'm sure. When I ordered I was given a free DVD on the making of ice roads. It's only 50 minutes long but there is some good stuff in it (as well as some outright lies by someone who should know better)! But a friend is interviewed, and I saw a rig that my buddy Reg used to drive.
Having crested Charlies, there isnt much to get excited about until you reach Drybones Hill, which is shorter but steeper, and were going downhill while were heading north. There isnt actually that much too it lock up yer diffs again, pick the right gear, and use the retarder rather than the brakes. If you have to use any brakes you can use the trailer brakes, but then if you lock the trailer wheels up youll make a nice slick spot and as more people do it, the hill will just become slicker and slicker. The chap behind you wont be happy if you leave him skid marks all the way down the hill. Drybones is usually well sanded, though, and Ive not heard of anyone having a problem there.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o> </o>
There are a couple of longer portages along this stretch of the road and some of them are nice windy drives through the woods. Trees are pretty small here because youre not far from the tree line. Once you get to portage 38 or 39 its pretty much a straight line to Lockhart Camp, which is on #43. No hills, no corners to speak off, and you start to feel good because you know youre only 45 mins or so from food and rest! Itll have taken 7 or 8 hours to get from The Meadows to Lockhart, so youre ready for a change of scenery for a while anyway.
I'll be interested to hear what you think of the DVD. I've seen all the shows, and I have to say again, this is much better. Thanks for the great stories.
You really think this is better? That's pretty wild, having now seen (some of) the show myself - thanks. I watched the first of the three discs last night and thought I'd tell you what I think now, because it may be a while until I get to watch any more.
I was more impressed than I thought I'd be actually, and I even learned some things! It was strange because I really never gave two hoots about driving on ice, and if I'd watched the show first I'd probably be too chicken to do it! I'm scared now! Here are a few observations I made:
'Polar Bear' - the guy who thinks everyone else is out to try and beat him, the one we all look up to....I've never heard of him or seen him before. That could be because, as he says, he never stops driving, so I wouldn't bump into him at Lockhart or something, but he seems to think that everyone else looks up to him as some sort of hero. To be honest, I never even knew it was a race to get in more loads than the next guy! Sure, you want to get as many in as possible, but that's because you want to make as much $$ as possible, not to out-do anyone else. His second year guy Rick had to stop during his first trip because he'd been in such a hurry he hadn't even tied his load down properly. What kind of an asshat does that?
And that's my second point - Rick comes across as an asshat. I suspect he's not so bad as he comes across, more that he's just acting up for the camera. I don't know him either, but I do recognise his truck.
I liked Hugh's idea about exercising to keep awake. I'd never though of that, but will be trying it out next time...
Jay and Alex I know from living in Yellowknife, and I spent the first ten days or so of the '06 season working with Jay hauling over length, over width loads to Snap Lake (actually that's worth a story in itself). For a young 'un Jay has a damn good head on his shoulders, and he's an extremely good truck driver - far better than me. Back in the first few pages of this thread I posted some pics of a truck that went into the ditch and had to be winched back onto the road. Jay's truck is the one doing the winching.
It was cool to see that tanker that flipped on the Ingraham Trail being righted again. I've driven past many trucks on their sides in the ditch on that road, but never seen them getting one back on it's wheels again. Neat.
There was that tanker that spun out at the bottom of Charlie's and blocked the road. Notice that, as in the pics I posted of that rig spun out at the same spot, it was mechanical failure rather than driver error that caused that. In the show, that guy had hardly started to climb the hill yet. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have had to shift at that stage, but if he had he simply didn't have enough speed up.
Drivers driving slow! Man, I mentioned already how it pisses me off to have people driving under the speed limit, and you see several guys complain about it in the show. At one stage they even catch up to the convoy ahead of them - that is sooooooo annoying!
Hugh makes a comment when they're leaving Nuna dispatch about wanting to lead so as to get ahead of the two tankers 'cos they're usually the ones that cause trouble. Amen to that, brother. (Although statistically, the majority of the trucks on the road are hauling fuel so it's only mathematically correct that it's going to be them that bite it more often than the freight haulers).
That young kid T.J. is about to switch trucks, but I wonder how that works. What's his boss going to say when he says that he parked the truck he was driving to ride a better one? All of a sudden his boss no longer has any income from that rig, and T.J. is hoping he'll be paid by some guy he'd never met before, and has now left town to boot.
But he was driving a Freightliner, and I've already commented about how damn cold mine got. They're known for it, but his was bad with frost forming all around the fittings in the bunk. That sucks!
Yeah, your thread is better. Thanks for the review.
I promise not to highjack this thread from you.
However,I'll scan and post some pics from winter's past.
Just to keep ya entertained.
Hi my friends.
I went to yellowknife some years ago, with my motorcycle.
I stayed in northamerica about 3 years.
I am from spain.
I stayed in yellowknife one winter, 2002-2003, I worked there in construction ... too much cold...
Generally about -40 to -41 and with win child about -50 -52 too much
But there place is very beautifull but for not to work in the street about 6-7 hours every day.
I give you some picture of my trip.
Post 'em up, man! For sure - I'd be interested to see them!
Sorry to hear you weren't too keen on YK - you get used to the cold, you know...or maybe some people are just better suited to it. I know I'd rather be too cold than too hot, but you were working outside - that's pretty hard core! Thanks for posting!
Well, school is over for the holiday - only one more semester to go, now. My posts may become rather infrequent over the next few weeks, but I'll try and do one more before I head to Yellowknife on the weekend.
The last couple of nights I've been watching the second disc of the Ice Road Truckers, and it was much better than the first - more action. I felt bad for T.J. having a boo boo in that new truck before he'd even got out of town, but those glad hands do pop out sometimes, and it does make a whole lot of difference to your braking. It's happened to me, but I've been lucky enough that I caught it in the yard and it never amounted to anything. I wanted to see him call the owner of the truck!
As for 'Chains' being kicked off the road, and Drew quitting, there isn't much to say, really. Hugh doesn't seem too concerned that half his trucks are sitting there freezing up and not earning any money, so good for him. But I am now convinced that Rick is an arsehole - sure of it! Oh, and they form that 5 man convoy to try and get as many trucks out of town before the storm hits? There's a new guy with them, Cody - he is driving the Western Star winch truck that ran off the road when Jay had to pull it out, back on one of the first few pages of this thread. That rig belongs to the guy I drove for in '06. I was told some stories about Cody's season that I won't print here, but it wasn't entirely successful. I noticed that he only had two straps on his camp shack, and that's asking for trouble. If just one of them broke, he'd have lost his load.
I feel really bad for people like Chains and Drew when their trucks are down and in the shop over night, and they have to get a hotel, 'cos that just sucks. One of the many benefits to living in Yellowknife while you do that job is that you can go and sleep in your own bed if your truck is parked for a while. It must be very tough living in a rig 24/7 for 8 or 10 weeks - not sure I could do that.
I'll hopefully get to see the third disc between now and the weekend.
For now...here's Mackay Lake Lodge
Ive already talked about Lockhart a little. I was interested in the show to see that Hugh says he hardly ever stops there because its just a waste of time, but a man that size must eat a lot, and the food is both good and free at Lockhart, so perhaps hes there a little more often than he admits. Or he might just eat pastries that he grabbed at the mines thats possible, I guess. I know that if I lived out of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1lace>Yellowknife</st1lace></st1:City> Id be using the place as a home base theres laundry, showers, phones and TV as well as the food, so it only makes sense.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o> </o>
I usually stop there anyway, even if its only for long enough to grab something to eat. Working those long hours you need to eat a lot, I find, and anyway its a break from driving. A sixteen hour drive at 25km/h is a lot more manageable if you can stop for an hour in the middle of it. The only times Ive ever turned and burned (i.e. just kept going) is when I was trying to get back to YK before they closed the Ingraham Trail for the night if they were moving wide loads. Even heading back again empty its still nice to have a change of scenery for an hour before you climb back in the cab.
You can buy fuel there if you need to, although it isnt encouraged. And there are mechanics and a shop there, but they are really only for Nuna vehicles. Im sure that in a bind theyd help you out if you needed a litre of antifreeze, but I dont think youd persuade one of their mechanics to work on your truck, and theres no way theyd let you take it into their shop. I told you earlier about the time I needed help from their loader to push my load back square onto my trailer. Theyre good guys, but I wouldnt bother them unless I had no choice.
The grub is good and varied. As at every bush camp Ive ever been to, theres steak night once a week, and steak always comes with shrimp, right? Nice. Theres always tea, coffee, hot chocolate etc, and a few pastries out for the taking. Technically, the kitchen is closed between about <st1:time Minute="0" Hour="2">2am</st1:time> and <st1:time Minute="0" Hour="6">6am</st1:time>, but they usually leave a few plates of supper out on a hot plate. The place is pretty quiet at night, though that is inside anyway the parking lot is usually pretty full. I know a few guys who say they prefer to drive at night because the road is less busy, but I think thats an excuse for something else, because the number of trucks on the road really doesnt make any difference.
Anyway, depending on whether or not that season you have to book a time out with dispatch, or youre allowed to go when youre ready to leave with a group of friends, lets say youre ready to go. Dispatch says go ahead and youre still in the lead, so you give dispatch the numbers of the rigs in your convoy, and tell them youre heading north and give the destinations.
Then you roll down back onto the ice and get up to the speed limit, which goes up to 30 km/h north of Lockhart. Within a couple of minutes youll be out on the ice and spaced properly, and its straight enough for the first kilometer or two that you can see the rest of the guys in the mirrors to check everything is as it should be.
Here's a sun dog - or as much of one as I could fit into one photo, anyway. It's a giant circular rainbow that surrounds the sun, but at quite a distance from it. Apparently they mean there's bad weather on the way.
And when the bad weather has arrived, you get a whiteout - which looks liek this
I watched the last disc of the TV series last night. Disc 2 was definitely the best, but it was all pretty enjoyable viewing. If you ignore all the exaggerated danger, it was a pretty realistic depiction of the job. There are little things they don't tell you, though - at the end they're saying that out of 800 trucks there are only a few left. That's not because they all quit - sure some of them did, but most are just sent home when things start to wind down. Many volunteer to leave as soon as they start sending trucks home. Some guys are hated by the dispatchers so they are sent home at the first opportunity.
I wonder what Hugh will do about the fact that he has three trucks sitting in Yellowknife, and no-one to drive them home. It's going to cost him $1000 per person to fly drivers up from Kelowna to Yellwoknife to pick them up for him, not to mention that if those trucks had left with their regular drivers at the end of the season, they might well have managed to snag loads to take to Edmonton, therefore being paid for most of the trip. And he'll have to hire a mechanic to start them all when he does figure out what he's going to do with them. As Rick Fitch (yard manager) said, if it wasn't for bad luck Hugh wouldn't have any luck. What a season, and then his own rig gets side-swiped. He didn't seem at all upset, but I suspect that's because he got the road number of the truck that did it, and will be following it up...
Not sure why Rick quit, really. I might have got it wrong, but I gathered that his foot heater wasn't working, yet didn't Hugh tell him on the phone to take it to the mechanic and fix it? What's the problem there? I guess Rick didn't want to lose that time in the shop because he knew he'd never beat Hugh's trip count. I expect he was hoping that Hugh was going to help him fix it, then they'd both lose the same amount of time and Hugh wouldn't get any further ahead.
Oh, and Alex taking that baby trailer as a hotshot load - if I'd tried that they'd have booted me off the road for the rest of the season!
I felt really bad for Jay when he hooked on that trailer for Deline, took it over the scales to see how much it weighed, and promptly got a ticket. Holy shit! As he said, at least give a guy a chance to make it legal! There's a story behind that, too. The main man at that scales is called...well, let's say it's Adam...and he's known as 'The Mermaid' by local truckers 'cos he's 'the c**t with the scales'. Now you've seen him in action...
Alrighty then. The moon.
So were on the move again. Its a right hand turn out of the parking lot, and the first portage you come to, 44 or 45, has a nice view as you come off the far end of it. Forty six can be slippery sometimes, and its narrow, and within an hour of leaving Lockhart youre on 48, and pulling off it onto the famous (and hated) Mackay Lake.By this time youll be above the tree line, too. In the show they constantly make reference to Mackay taking 3.75 hours to cross, but it is actually 3 hours pretty much on the nose. If youre going to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1lace><st1laceName>Snap</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> youll take a right off <st1lace><st1laceName>Mackay</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> at the south end, otherwise you might as well settle down for the long haul.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o> </o>
My first season, that Freightliner had a cruise control that worked at 26 kmh, and because the limit north of Lockhart is 30 kmh, I could do other things while crossing Mackay. I didnt have the DVD player that some guys do on their dashes, but at least I could get up and stretch my legs, sit on the bunk and pour a cup of hot chocolate or something. Once I moved to the Western Star, and the next seasons Kenworth, I had to sit there keeping tabs on my right foot because the cruise didnt work until higher speeds. I think Ive heard of folks reading as they drive, but youd be surprised at how much attention you have to pay to the road, especially at the north end where the potholes sometimes are big enough that theyd rip a front wheel right off your truck. And there is one guy I heard of who couldnt understand why hed hit the snowbank, when all he was doing was microwaving soup in his sleeper! But I cant talk, cos it was on <st1lace><st1laceName>Mackay</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> that I fell asleep and hit the bank (see earlier post).
Coming off Mackay onto portage 49 is a huge relief. Psychologically, for me, anyway, Im onto the last leg of the journey now, and that feels good. Also, theres a huge pull out on 49 and you can stop and take a leak or whatever if you want to. Its often used as a sleeping spot, too, at night, despite being only about 1.5 hrs from Diavik. Ive pulled over and slept there before, but only on the way south when Ive left a mine in the wee hours of the morning and know I cant stay awake until Lockhart. Good to pull over for a couple of hours in those circumstances, before making Lockhart, and breakfast, in one more hit.
Soon enough you pass Lac de Gras camp, where as leader youll radio in the numbers of the trucks in your convoy and tell them where each rig is going. If anyone is going way north to Lupin or Tahera, theyll pull of at Lac de gras to rest and eat before pushing north. Once north of Lac de Gras the road seems to go on for ever. Youre only an hour at the most from Diavik, but it seems to take for ever to get there. Having said that, I had better take a break and try to remember where I said we were heading on this trip anyone remember?!
Parked at Lockhart
This is still great stuff, Squonker, thanks for writing.
I'm in Yellowknife for the weekend, and as I drove into town this evening I checked out the Tli Cho yard for any of Hugh's trucks, but they all appear to be gone (hardly surprising, really). There's one that's so deep in snow I can't tell what it is!
And I bumped into three of Alex's children (Alex from the show), and heard what's going to happen next season...that's wild that there will be another one.
Damn, it's cold here!
Here is my mini hijack.
I'll find some more..
This has been the best read all year. Now I have start planning a trip there when the snow melts. I will look you up when I get there.
Thanks for an enjoyable day Squonker. I ran across this thread early this morning and read it off and on all day. I was a fan of the TV show although I mostly watched that because I had withdrawls fron the season end of Deadliest Catch which I really was crazy about. That show was very popular so I think the Ice Road Truckers was an effort to keep the crowd watching.
As others have said, I think your thread was much more interesting then the TV show. I hope you keep it alive so I can follow it. I'll be tuning in for more!
PS: I thought Jay was one of the nicest guys among them and that Hugh was an egotistical jerk. LOL.
Awryders, thanks for the pics! I like the look of that igloo camp, we call that a quincy here and I'll have to build one later this winter when we go on survival camp. They fly us off into the boonies and leave us for a day or two with only a backpack. I'm a bit scared to tell you the truth, but no one died yet so I guess I'll be ok! If I get any good ones I'll post some pics when it's over and I'm all thawed out again.
Wow, I don't know what to say other than thanks so much. I have to be careful not to let this go to my head, 'cos I read some pretty cool shit this year on this site (Kaneman in particular comes to mind). Thanks, thanks, and thanks again! Yep, look me up when you're up this way. I'll PM you 'cos I'm all over the place right now. Cheers!
Thank you, Cap'n, glad you're enjoying the thread. I never saw Deadliest Catch due to not having a TV and all, but as I mentioned earlier I found out that there is going to be a second series of Ice Road Truckers. I found out a bunch of details in YK, but I'm not sure what it would be cool to say. The guy I drove for in '06 said that he has been getting calls from all over the U.S. from people wanting to drive for him. Hope I don't lose my gig to someone on this site! I have to talk to him again, but I might well be heading up to do a couple of trips for him during my March break from school, towards the end of the season. A good source for some fresh stories...
I've been quiet lately 'cos I'm travelling all over the place. I'm in Montreal right now (beautiful city), and I'm heading out to my parents' place for the hols on Saturday, arriving Sunday. When I get settled there I'll do a proper post or two, as well as put up some pics that I took of a rig that had a wee bit of an accident in YK while I was there. A little embarrassing, this one. I'm not even completely sure how he would have done it. Thanks for reading, everyone, and if I don't get on here beforehand, Happy Christmas to you all.
Hi Squonker. You won't have to worry about me coming up there competing with you to drive on ice. I'm a fishing guide down in SW FL and I had a crew of young guys out fishing in the gulf today that I was telling about you. We fished in 80 degree weather in 70 degree water. That's more my style! LOL.
If you get a chance to see Deadliest Catch you should check it out. It's about the crab fishermen in the Bearing Sea. They fish two seasons the first being the Alaskan King crabs and the second being the ophelio crabs. The ophies are fished in Jan when the Bearing Sea is at it's worst. These guys leave port into 60 to 70 knot winds at times on their way out in 100 foot boats. If I was younger I would like to fish a few seasons of the king crab but I don't think I was ever man enough to do that January shit. Those guys are real tough in my opinion. The boats ice up in the 100 mph wind and a 1" rail becomes 6" so even when they aren't fishing the guys have to spend hours at a time just busting ice off the boat so they don't capsize. I have come home in some ugly storms in my 30 years of being a fishing boat Capt. but I never went out in them like these guys do. I guess they have to because there are quotas on the amount of crab that can be harvested so they want to get busy as soon as the short seasons open.
Sorry for the off topic blather but I kind of viewed it as high adventure living and your ice road work has at least a little of that flavor too. I do enjoy reading about it here and will hope for more. If you have stuff you would like to tell about the coming TV season but don't want to post it here I would love to hear about it in a PM and certainly wouldn't mention it anywhere it could be a problem. Keep the adventure comin! Neville.
Your trucking makes for some very cool reading. You sure can find a lot of good stories on this site.
Eagerly awaiting anthoer fabulous installment down in Chicagoland USA.
Keep em coming!!!