Yellowknife ice trucking

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

  1. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    :thumb
    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.


    10-4, man. :thumb

    Lockhart
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    View of the road south from Lockhart
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    Why did I take this picture?!
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    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone falling asleep on <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place><st1:placeName>Gordon</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Lake</st1:placeType></st1:place>, but some people do complain that at 1.5 hrs to get across, it’s boring. Funny, I’ve never once had a problem of any kind with it, but within the first hour of being on <st1:place><st1:placeName>Mackay</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Lake</st1:placeType></st1:place> I’m stir crazy. Strange. I always have a big selection of CDs with me, and there’s Sirius too – also your mates to bullshit with, or new friends to make if you’re running with people you haven’t 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.
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    There are some who want to speed, but don’t want to lead (and therefore risk being busted), so they start to call you and say, “You’re only doing 23, pick it up will ya?” They’re hoping to make better time of course, and know full well that it’s you as leader who’ll get the grief when security catches you. But you’d have to be pretty insecure to fall for that, I reckon, and anyway on the first trip each time I’m 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 that’s what you can counter them with. And even those guys are pretty good guys most of the time, they’re just seeing what they can get away with – and who here doesn’t do that every once in a while?!
    <o:p> </o:p>
    At the far end, portage 19, you might want to make a pit stop if you didn’t on number 18, and then there’s not much of interest until Charlie’s Hill, which is number 25 if I remember correctly. Coming off 24 is often a little slippery, then it’s about 1 km until you make a right hander, and then you’re on the approach to Charlie’s. It’s about another kilometer to the base of the hill I’d think, maybe a little more, and about half way across that I’ll get on the radio and ask if anyone’s coming down Charlie’s. “Ok then, five trucks up Charlie’s Hill”, and it’s 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 I’m sure. The thing is to make the least number of shifts possible while you’re climbing the hill (and preferably none at all), ‘cos that’s where you’ll come to grief. Security won’t stop you if you need to take a run up at Charlie’s – it’s 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 I’d 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 didn’t make it.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    And now you’re up Charlie’s. One guy I know always stops at the top (where’s there’s ample parking) for ten minutes to let his dog out for a piss. Some guys just stop for five for a break, and I’ve done that before – stretch the legs sort of thing. It depends how I feel. There’s 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 that’s 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 it’s very do-able, I think most of my problem with it is just that I don’t like slowing down.

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    The most handsome man on the road!
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  2. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    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.

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    Having crested Charlie’s, there isn’t much to get excited about until you reach Drybones Hill, which is shorter but steeper, and we’re going downhill while we’re heading north. There isn’t 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 you’ll make a nice slick spot and as more people do it, the hill will just become slicker and slicker. The chap behind you won’t be happy if you leave him skid marks all the way down the hill. Drybones is usually well sanded, though, and I’ve not heard of anyone having a problem there.
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    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 you’re not far from the tree line. Once you get to portage 38 or 39 it’s 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 you’re only 45 mins or so from food and rest! It’ll have taken 7 or 8 hours to get from The Meadows to Lockhart, so you’re ready for a change of scenery for a while anyway.

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  3. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    :lurk 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.:thumb Thanks for the great stories.
  4. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Hi Klay,

    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!
  5. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    Yeah, your thread is better. Thanks for the review.
  6. vixenso

    vixenso n00b

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    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.

    Huggssss.

    vc

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vicente_malpica_ruiz/
  7. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Post 'em up, man! For sure - I'd be interested to see them!

    Hi Vixenso,

    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
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    I’ve already talked about Lockhart a little. I was interested in the show to see that Hugh says he hardly ever stops there because it’s 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 he’s there a little more often than he admits. Or he might just eat pastries that he grabbed at the mines – that’s possible, I guess. I know that if I lived out of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City><st1:place>Yellowknife</st1:place></st1:City> I’d be using the place as a home base – there’s laundry, showers, phones and TV as well as the food, so it only makes sense.
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    I usually stop there anyway, even if it’s only for long enough to grab something to eat. Working those long hours you need to eat a lot, I find, and anyway it’s 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 I’ve 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 it’s still nice to have a change of scenery for an hour before you climb back in the cab.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    You can buy fuel there if you need to, although it isn’t encouraged. And there are mechanics and a shop there, but they are really only for Nuna vehicles. I’m sure that in a bind they’d help you out if you needed a litre of antifreeze, but I don’t think you’d persuade one of their mechanics to work on your truck, and there’s no way they’d 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. They’re good guys, but I wouldn’t bother them unless I had no choice.
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    The grub is good and varied. As at every bush camp I’ve ever been to, there’s steak night once a week, and steak always comes with shrimp, right? Nice. There’s 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 that’s an excuse for something else, because the number of trucks on the road really doesn’t make any difference.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Anyway, depending on whether or not that season you have to book a time out with dispatch, or you’re allowed to go when you’re ready to leave with a group of friends, let’s say you’re ready to go. Dispatch says go ahead and you’re still in the lead, so you give dispatch the numbers of the rigs in your convoy, and tell them you’re heading north and give the destinations.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    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 you’ll be out on the ice and spaced properly, and it’s 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.
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    And when the bad weather has arrived, you get a whiteout - which looks liek this
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    Sunset
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  8. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    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.
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    So we’re on the move again. It’s 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 it’s narrow, and within an hour of leaving Lockhart you’re on 48, and pulling off it onto the famous (and hated) Mackay Lake.By this time you’ll 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 you’re going to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place><st1:placeName>Snap</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Lake</st1:placeType></st1:place> you’ll take a right off <st1:place><st1:placeName>Mackay</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Lake</st1:placeType></st1:place> at the south end, otherwise you might as well settle down for the long haul.
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    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 didn’t 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 season’s Kenworth, I had to sit there keeping tabs on my right foot because the cruise didn’t work until higher speeds. I think I’ve heard of folks reading as they drive, but you’d 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 they’d rip a front wheel right off your truck. And there is one guy I heard of who couldn’t understand why he’d hit the snowbank, when all he was doing was microwaving soup in his sleeper! But I can’t talk, ‘cos it was on <st1:place><st1:placeName>Mackay</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>Lake</st1:placeType></st1:place> that I fell asleep and hit the bank (see earlier post).
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    Coming off Mackay onto portage 49 is a huge relief. Psychologically, for me, anyway, I’m onto the last leg of the journey now, and that feels good. Also, there’s a huge pull out on 49 and you can stop and take a leak or whatever if you want to. It’s often used as a sleeping spot, too, at night, despite being only about 1.5 hrs from Diavik. I’ve pulled over and slept there before, but only on the way south when I’ve left a mine in the wee hours of the morning and know I can’t 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.
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    Soon enough you pass Lac de Gras camp, where as leader you’ll 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, they’ll 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. You’re 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?!

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    Parked at Lockhart
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  9. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    This is still great stuff, Squonker, thanks for writing.
  10. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    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!
  11. Rubicon

    Rubicon Been here awhile

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    Squonker

    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.

    Paul
  12. CaptTurbo

    CaptTurbo Long timer

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    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.

    Neville.
  13. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    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.:vardy


    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. :beer
  14. CaptTurbo

    CaptTurbo Long timer

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    Ft Myers
    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.
  15. Chilipepper

    Chilipepper Baja wannabe

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    870
    Location:
    BC
    Your trucking makes for some very cool reading. You sure can find a lot of good stories on this site.
  16. Ducky 149

    Ducky 149 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    602
    Location:
    Roswell Jawja
    Eagerly awaiting anthoer fabulous installment down in Chicagoland USA.

    Keep em coming!!!:clap :clap :clap
  17. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,491
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    Thanks Ducky, you'll have to bear with me for a while as I'm in England for the hols...stayed with one sister over Christmas, another for a few days, and now I'm at my folks' place. (Visited a BMW bike dealer near the one sister's place this morning, had a look at the 650 Dakar, the X Country and whatever the third one on that line is). I'll carry on properly once I'm back home, but for now here are a few shots I took in Yellowknife the day I flew out. I really don't know how buddy did this, other than locking up his brakes...

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    Happy New Year to you all!
  18. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,491
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    Alrighty then...I'm back home, and just in time too, because on the news this morning was a story about the TV show. The History Channel asked permission to film a second series this year, and they have just been turned down. The Joint Committee, which runs the road, has told them that the first series gave an unrealistic picture of the job and the people involved, so they have decided that they do not want the TV cameras back.
    Then this afternoon I had a call from CBC Radio asking me my opinion, and I will be interviewed live tomorrow morning. Like I know anything!
    Apparently instead of filming the same road, the second series of the show will feature truckers on the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, and the ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. So now you know as much as I do!

    Time for a story. I mentioned a few posts ago that I had worked with Jay from the show for the first part of the '06 season, and what we got up to is worth a few minutes typing...
    Myself, Terry, Don and Stan (who all worked for the same guy), and Jay, who has his own truck, were all asked by Tli Cho to haul a camp shack from town to Snap Lake mine, and then to run to the Misery Camp on BHP's Ekati mine site several times to bring back camp shacks that were no longer needed by BHP, to Snap Lake. Does that make any sense? One shack from town to Snap, then four or five trips from between Snap and Misery, each time bringing a shack back with us. This meant that we wouldn't be home for several days, and unusually Tli Cho said they were paying by the hour for this job, so we agreed a rate with our boss and set out.

    The shacks are all overlength and overwidth, so we needed an escort truck on the Ingraham Trail, but we made it to Snap Lake no problem, and unloaded our shacks. We were using trombone trailers which extend for the overlength loads, and having unloaded we'd close them back up so as to make it easier to negotiate corners, and make it nicer for folks that we met on portages coming the other way.

    I don't remember whether we stopped for a rest having unloaded our first shacks, or whether we'd gone to Misery to bring back another each before we did so, but whenever it was we woke up and heard that the road north was closed due to weather. We were effectively stuck at Snap Lake and we began to wonder whether we were even being paid while the road was closed. It was open to the south, so we wanted to head back to town, re-load there, and be ready to head north again when the road opened. We called Tli Cho to ask what gives, and to our surprise were told that we should wait there at Snap Lake, that they'd pay us 24hrs a day while we were waiting for the road to open. That suited us - being paid to do sweet f-all!

    We wanted to go into the camp for a bite to eat, so on the radio we called security, and they came and picked us up in a pickup, dropping us off at the security entrance where we ran our coats and hard hats through an x-ray machine and were asked to remove our boots. Having had our meal we were taken back to our trucks again, and all was well.

    While were in the camp, one of us had been told by someone inside that there was a back door that was only a minute's walk from our trucks, and that we didn't have to bother with all this security stuff. Well, they didn't say that we didn't have to - just that there was a way to avoid doing so...see the trouble brewing?! It is, as I'm sure you can imagine, a pretty thankless life sitting in your rig 24/7, not being able to walk, let alone drive, anywhere, so that afternoon Stan and I walked in through this back door, helped ourselves to a coffee and sat down in front of the TV. Not long afterwards we were joined by Jay, Terry and Don. As we were sitting there shooting the shit, one of the security guards came by and asked how we'd got in and who had told us about the back door. She wasn't upset or anything, stopping to chat for a while, but not five minutes later she'd gone and her boss had turned up. And he most definitely was not happy. He reemed us out for not going through security and told us that we had to come in through the x-ray room, delivered by the pick up truck, every time we wanted to come inside. He was an arsehole about it. "So", I said, "if I want to come in for a shit I have to call you over the radio, be collected by a pick-up, and then x-rayed?" Yep, apparently I did. We were all pretty choked at the attitude this guy was giving us, and Jay started making noises about how we'd all just head back to town and they could find someone else to deliver their shacks. Well, then his tune suddenly changed, and perhaps as we were going to be there indefinitely they's issue us with a security pass we could keep for the duration, and we could even come in the back door so long as we wore the passes all the time we were in camp. Jackass, he was probably bored out of his mind and just wanting something to do, but talk about going too far.

    Eventually the weather did clear up and they opened the road. We had fun heading north empty, passing all loaded trucks and going the wrong way up the hammer lanes. My trailer didn't have a roll bar on the end, and even though Stan and Don had winch trucks they'd been told not to use the winches, so Jay was kept busy unattaching from his trailer, and on to each of ours in turn, where he'd winch each load on. Because I had didn't have that roll bar, to load my trailer he'd winch a shack half way on to his own trailer, then I'd back up as fast as I could under the overhang to ram it onto mine as far as I could. When we'd got it so that it wouldn't drop off the end of my trailer, a chap in a loader would come and push it the rest of the way for me. Those shacks aren't heavy, and they only need four straps to hold them on (mind you, they need to be long straps). In the end I think we hauled 4 or 5 shacks from Misery to Snap Lake each, and then spent the majority of the rest of the season bringing more up from town. Towards the end I was given that humidor or whatever it was called, which nearly fell off my trailer on the way to Lockhart. I wrote about that in an earlier thread.

    Being an imbicile, I took only one pic of one of these shacks on my truck, and it is crap. But, for your viewing pleasure....
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    You can't see that it's over length or over width, but other than that it's pure genius!

    A few more pics to round out the post...



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    Flooding...
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    And a couple of the hoar frost on the front of my truck.
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    I'll continue with that anatomy of a trip in the next few days...
  19. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,491
    Location:
    Yellowknife, NWT
    Lockhart on a grey day
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    A nice sunset
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    Da road
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    So, I think that we left off having passed Lac de Gras camp and told dispatch where we were headed. Where are we headed? Well, if you're going to Diavik you're probably only 45 mins away, and it's a simple matter of taking the sign posted turning, from then on it's only about .5 km until you drive up a small hill onto the Diavik property. They have their parking lot signed too, now, with a particular area for freight trucks, and one for fuel. Park up, get dressed in all your safety gear and head into dispatch with your paperwork to let them know you're there. Some guys radio in their arrival as they're driving up the hill, but you have to go into the office anyway, so I figure there's no point in disturbing them, and anyway they already know where you are because they'd have heard you radio in to Lac de Gras dispatch.

    If you're going to BHP you sail right past the Diavik turn off, and about half an hour later you'll hit the 'high grade', which is to say solid ground. You climb up off the ice and you're on a road that is perhaps 10 km long, and brings you to a junction. This road is well maintained, but it's still the one place that I've messed up enough to have had to chain up! I was day dreaming climbing up there one day (it's mostly up hill), and there'd been some wind from my right, so in places the right hand side of the road was drifted in. I was miles away dreaming about Jessica Biel or something, ignoring the radio chatter 'cos I knew the road was plenty wide enough for two trucks to pass, when I suddenly realized that I was just 10 seconds or so from passing a truck coming the other way, and I had to move as far to the left as I could because of snow drift, and that meant I was going to be bogging down somewhat. But because I hadn't been paying attention I hadn't sped up and I didn't have enough momentum to get through the deep snow. I came to a stop and had to chain up, and wait for a grader to give me a tug because I was facing up hill. There were several trucks from other convoys stuck behind me and it was about an hour before I was going again, but they were all very good about it. One of the guys behind me drove for the same company, and he was being understanding, which I think helped everyone else to be, too.

    So (eventually!) you make it to this junction, it's a right hand turn to go to Misery, and a left to Ekati. Take a left and you're on an excellent raod for 26 km, with a 60 km/h speed limit even if you're loaded, because you're not on the ice any more. It's a sweet ride all the way in to camp, but...the first time I went to BHP I was alone. The left turn I just mentioned is signed so that was easy enough, and as I got nearer camp and started to see buildings, but I had no idea where to go. I tried calling BHP dispatch but got no answer, and then I saw another sign telling winter road trucks to turn left. I did so, and passed a whole bunch of buildings, but had no idea where I was supposed to stop. If I had inadvertantly driven into a high security area, or where those million tonne dump trucks fly back and forth, there'd have been trouble. Dispatch still weren't answering my radio calls, but then I came around a corner and saw some other rigs parked. I pulled up alongside and now had to find the dispatch office, which isn't signposted. I started opening doors in every building I saw, and eventually found where I was supposed to be.

    Enough for now. Here's the sky
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    And the road...
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    That's approaching Lockhart from the south

    And, just for Galute, a plow!
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  20. galute

    galute are we there yet?

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Bald Knob, Arkansas
    Cool squonker!! Welcome back, hope you enjoyed your visit with your folks.

    What is the purpose of flooding the road? Is that how they repair bad sections or do they do that just to make the ice thicker and stronger?