In this one and a half minute video, Jack drives over the pipeline then has to wait in back of another truck while a grader finishes clearing the road. Then he continues on down the hill – you can see the grader on the left. (Don’t forget, the video is in HD so don’t watch it blurry!)
About an hour after leaving Prudhoe Bay, Jack meets a pilot car for an over-sized load so he stops at a pull-out and waits. You’ll see the trucks in back of the big load go around it, then a truck that will be traveling faster than Jack goes ahead of him.
The big load is a 400,000 pound mod (modular unit) and there were four 70,000 pound push trucks to get it from Fairbanks to the last hill which is about 60 miles south of Prudhoe. Only one push truck is needed to get it the rest of the way into Prudhoe and that’s the one you can see here.
Recently someone asked how fast Jack is driving in these videos. The answer is, the fastest Jack drives on the Dalton is 55 miles an hour. His truck is governed at 55, meaning it is programmed to be unable to go faster than that. The speed limit of the Dalton Highway is 50 miles an hour, so he is given that extra 5 miles an hour in order to let him gain a little speed before going up the steep grades of the hills and mountains.
Of course he drives a variety of speeds. Things he slows down for are curves, rough patches, frost heaves, and animals. And when you see him meeting other trucks as a general rule he slows down to about 35. That is for safety primarily, but also etiquette.
So here’s another video, this one of a night drive, which is what the Haul Road experience consists of most of the time in the winter. (Don’t forget, the volume is loud.)
Recently the Dalton was drifted shut near Slope Mountain. This video starts right after 2 blades (graters) clear the road and one parks in front of Jack. If it weren’t for the plowed path, you can’t really tell where the road is unless you watch the delineaters, those reflective markers on each edge.
If any of you are very familiar with the great state of Colorado you may have heard of the Shelf Road that runs between the towns of Canon City and Cripple Creek (lots of Cs in that part of the world). It’s a mountainous dirt road with steep drop offs, hair-raising corners, and not even a hint of a guard rail on the whole 24 miles.
The Shelf Road is actually part of the Gold Belt Byway, a string of scenic roads in Colorado so called because of the gold mining in the area.
The average person wouldn’t drive this road, but my husband is not your average person. After buying a pick up in Texas and a camper to sit on top of it in Colorado, he chooses to christen our new rig by taking it on the Shelf Road. Let me just say right now, as the person who sat on the side of the ledge, that it was total insanity. It may have been enjoyable in a Jeep or something but as it was, our huge lumbering beast met a small truck and I was so busy white-knuckling it that I forgot to take a photo!
Below are photos of the drive, with some captions that you can see if you click on the image and scroll to the right, and below those are some photos of Cripple Creek and the mountaintop mine nearby.
Beautiful unassuming red dirt road…
…until you look down!
Truly on the side of a mountain.
A cross and some lovely metal art to memorialize someone.
One lane, around a corner !?!
It’s a really long way down.
24 miles of this!?!?
That’s an old collapsed barn down there.
Strange to find a big warehouse out in the middle of nowhere but there are mine accesses, tours, and roads to 2 ghost towns also.
Having a great time I’m sure, while his wife has a heart attack.
A great blue heron flying overhead.
Looking back the way we came.
That’s quite a road but I don’t really understand why it’s here, considering how much it probably costs to maintain.
Not taking his eyes off the road.
It had snowed recently, hence the puddles.
Another turn !?!
Beautiful valley VERY far down there.
How long does this go on??
Yay, falling rocks too!
Finally heading down the mountain.
The rig’s doing a pretty good job.
Some interesting drainage ditches.
A great blue heron flapping it’s wings in the breeze, practicing?
Still a lot of one lane portions, but it’s easier to breathe.
Notable rock formation.
I suppose Jack would just love to explore that old mine, thank goodness it’s locked.
What is a house doing out here and how did it get here??
A wild turkey gets startled by our lumbering beast.
Our reward for completing the harrowing Shelf Road was getting to Cripple Creek, a town that is clearly proud of their mountaintop removal! Here is a satellite image of the mine and some from the town itself. Hope you get there someday if you haven’t been already.
The view driving toward Cripple Creek
A satellite image of Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine.
A nice dusting of snow livens up the scene.
It’s amazing how big that mine must be.
This old structure is called the “Morning Glory Ore House” and was moved here in 2012 for preservation.
Another dark hole in the side of a mountain.
Now THAT is a retaining wall!
Don’t know the story behind this monster but there’s got to be one.
Tailing piles, I suppose.
Not sure if I’m going to be on board for this again. Luckily we’re leaving in a different directon.
Lots of historical buildings around here.
They sure love their donkeys, maybe too much. A bartender told us a story about the townspeople going after the donkeys that left town and bringing them back whether they liked it or not.
During the day…
and on a chilly night with some snow.
We left about $200 up, not too bad!
More mining stuff on the way out of town.
Would love to come back some day when we have more time.