Purposeful avalanches on Atigun Pass

About a week ago the State of Alaska triggered some avalanches on Atigun Pass and then cleared a path through for the trucks.  The first video is a short one taken right after the loader and blower were done and the second one is longer and that’s when Jack was heading back the other direction, toward Prudhoe Bay.  Thanks to the State for being proactive in keeping our truckers safe!

 

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Loads from days past

Here’s a gallery of photos of various loads Jack has hauled or encountered in his days of driving the Dalton.  Click on the first one and scroll to the right.

 

 

Heavy haul load with 2 push trucks

For some reason, years ago, Jack documented this heavy haul load quite thoroughly so why not share it with you guys.  This is a 2006 heavy haul load with 2 push trucks going up Atigun Pass on the Dalton Highway, and coming down the other side.  The load might be some kind of heater, maybe to heat the oil going down the pipeline, but Jack’s not totally sure.  It’s an outside unit so didn’t need to be covered.  Click on the first one and scroll to the right.

Lost load, an explosion box

Years ago Jack came across this load that fell off a truck north of Coldfoot.  Click on the first one and scroll to the right.  More info on the captions.

 

Jack’s first heavy haul load

This was Jack’s first heavy haul load.  He wasn’t actually part of the a heavy haul division yet but obviously it was a landmark load for him.

You can see the partially melted snow and the dry road.  We are almost to that point in the year right now, and you can probably believe that it is an exciting time for us Alaskans who have snow 8 or 9 months of the year!

Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

Jack's first heavy haul load

A Glorious Morning on the Road

An amazing thing happened when I was on the road with Jack one time.

We woke up at what the truckers call 62 Mile, a good-sized pullout used by truckers and tourist buses and just anyone traveling the road.  It was Pink Birch Tree on the Daltonlate September and the drive up north had been sunny and crispy cool.  I could not have gotten luckier on a time to be on the Haul Road.   Orange and yellow autumn colors abounded and even a pink birch tree showed up every so many miles.  (Click to enlarge.)

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayNo snow had fallen, but when we woke up that morning at 62 Mile the tundra outside was a winter wonderland.  There were tourists milling about, gazing at the frosty grasses that surround the pull out.

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayAnd as you can see, there was a long line at the restroom, so I decided to take a walk out onto the tundra, and I’m so glad I did.

I discovered frost-covered fireweed, spider webs glinting in the morning light, and best of all, an absolutely stunning mist rainbow.  I hadn’t known they even existed before, but now I have proof they do.  As the frost was evaporating off the tundra, the water vapor in the air created a rainbow that shimmered in the sun’s light.  As I stood watching, the sunlight slowly burned off the frost on the ground, leaving plants thawed on one side and still frozen on the other, and the glorious rainbow eventually faded away with the warmth of day.

A moment of astounding beauty.  Luckily, I took a quick video and lots of photos, some of which may give an inkling of how amazing that morning was.  If anyone ever tells you that the arctic tundra is a frozen wasteland with no redeeming qualities, here is proof that it is not true.

(Click on the first one and scroll to the right.)

 

 

Huge mod is pushed up “Koyukuk”

The hill that drivers call “Koyukuk” is right next to the Koyukuk River and it’s one of the steepest on the Dalton.  It’s about 30 miles south of Coldfoot.  The video was taken last winter.

Jack happened to be there to document this huge mod being pushed up the hill by push trucks and also being steered from the back because it’s so long.  If you look close you can see someone standing outside on the load as it goes up the hill – he’s steering the rear end as it goes around the curves.  The guy doing the steering is one of the former owners of Carlile and he comes up the Dalton for these types of loads that need some special care.  (Carlile was sold to Saltchuk Corporation a while ago.)

In case you are wondering, the truck is going pretty slow, about 5 miles an hour in 3rd gear.  The last thing you ever want to do, Jack says, is change gears when you’re going that slow with that much weight since you’ll stop before you get it into a different gear.  If you stop it’ll take a while to get going again and without the momentum you’re putting a lot of strain on the truck and there’s too much potential for breaking something.  The years Jack spent in heavy haul were great years he says, but he doesn’t miss it.