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Old 11-28-2007, 05:57 PM   #151
bone
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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!!!
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Old 11-28-2007, 06:42 PM   #152
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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.
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Old 11-29-2007, 10:32 AM   #153
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The drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by bone

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!!!
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!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSD4ME
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.
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.
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Old 11-30-2007, 02:26 PM   #154
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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!
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Old 11-30-2007, 07:26 PM   #155
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I'm still with ya squonker, great thread as always. Loved the snow plow pics. Keep em coming.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:48 AM   #156
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Driving to Nunavut

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsilliker
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!
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!
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Old 12-02-2007, 04:19 PM   #157
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Anatomy of a Trip Pt. 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by galute
I'm still with ya squonker, great thread as always. Loved the snow plow pics. Keep em coming.
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.


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Almost a whiteout


So we’re on the move. We left town at 6am so it’s probably 7.15, maybe 7.30am 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.

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.

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.

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!

Portage 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.

Ok, Gordon Lake 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....


...like this, and you can't see anything at all!


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Old 12-02-2007, 04:57 PM   #158
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Squonker,
As galute said a couple of posts back,"I'm still with ya".






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...........
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Old 12-03-2007, 12:18 AM   #159
Klay
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:46 AM   #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker
Can't help you with wanting to drive to Nunavut, though, as there ain't no roads to get there on!
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!
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:30 AM   #161
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsilliker
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!

Sorry, I'm a bit slow at the best of times! PM on its way.
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Old 12-04-2007, 05:45 PM   #162
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Sad news

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.
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:55 PM   #163
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Anatomy of a Trip Pt. 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by awryders
Squonker,
As galute said a couple of posts back,"I'm still with ya".



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...........
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.


Quote:
Originally Posted by galute
I'm still with ya squonker, great thread as always. Loved the snow plow pics. Keep em coming.
10-4, man.

Lockhart


View of the road south from Lockhart



Why did I take this picture?!


I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone falling asleep on Gordon Lake, 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 Mackay Lake 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.

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?!

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.

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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Old 12-08-2007, 05:07 PM   #164
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Anatomy of a Trip Pt.5.

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 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.



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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Old 12-08-2007, 07:23 PM   #165
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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.
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