Return from the Dalton Highway

Posted on Posted in North America Expedition 2007

Winds blasted the truck, shaking it all over during my rest. Eight o’clock and wide awake. So much for sleep. I make a few calls to family and friends to let them know of my arrival. I’m surprised there was cell service up here. After my “I made it” calls I headed back down. Windy conditions broke just outside Deadhorse. Caribou grased along side the road under the crystal clear skys. Out of the blue a low lying fog quickly enveloped me. A snow storm had rolled in from the west brought by the wind once again.

As I drove out of the snow storm I could see the Brooks Range covered in snow. Just yesterday only the peaks had snow. A storm overnight blanked the entire range. My speed reduced to 25 mph due to the icy patches that lead up the mountain. Truckers were few and far between. Those that did pass informed me of the severe weather South of the mountains. The pass itself was -17 degrees with snow a few inches deep. Coasting down the Southern slope I met the couple from Sierra Vista I had met yesterday. By now it was noon and they were on there way North. They stayed the night in Cold Foot. We talked for a bit about the weather and continued on.

I love extreme weather! And I’m in luck. As the mountains turned into hills, the wind picked up momentum dropping the temperature. Slushy roads froze solid with a inch or so of ice. I slowed to fifteen miles an hour and still slid all over the road. Somehow I overlooked a very important piece of equipment. Chains! Carefully tapping the brakes and gas I managed to drive quite far. Until I reached the Beaver Slide. Good name and thats what I did all the way down. Mostly sideways I slid down the very narrow, just wide enough for two trucks, road. Adrenaline pumped and my heart pounded. Stopping on the opposing slope I noticed the edge of the road dropped off 12 feet on each side. A bit rattled I chugged up the hill. I continued a few more hours in the same style, sliding down one side and up another.

Another prominent point on the highway, The Finger, stopped me dead in my tracks. Ice was even thicker on the upward slope. Halfway up my tires broke traction. With tires spinning freely, my truck slid backwards gradually turning sideways. I was headed for the edge this time. Letting off the gas I slowly applied the brakes. Creeping to a stop I try to figure out what to do. I called out on the CB to see if anyone was near by. A few truckers responded, but I didn’t know where I was at the moment. Time dragged on. Eventually a truck popped up over the hill. “Are you stuck,” rings out from the crackling radio. “Yep, I can’t get up. Just slide backwards,” I replied. Putting the truck in park, I climb out onto the roof rack. My yank strap was in the box up top. Grabbing the strap I climb down to the slippery surface. I slowly make my way up the hill and hookup the strap to the trucks. When I headed back to my truck I started to slide. I grabbed my truck’s door while flying past to stop myself. Back inside I radio to the trucker, “ready.” Slowly he pulls me up while continuing to slide all over the place. Once we were at the top we both got out for a bit. We joked around for a while. He gave me a bit of crap, which I deserved. I didn’t catch his name, though he was a great guy.

The remainder of the Dalton was relaxing in comparison. Beyond sliding around there was stunning scenery all over. I wish I had taken more photos of the day although my attention was focused elsewhere. Tonight I’m getting a room to clean up!


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