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.
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 late 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.)
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.)
It’s quite common for a really heavy load to have one or more push trucks behind it to push when going up inclines. Push trucks are commonly used on the Dalton Highway as well as the Parks and Richardson when the loads are outrageously heavy, otherwise it would take a very long time and so much fuel for the truck with the load to get up a mountain, and it would also impede traffic for long periods of time. The push trucks just follow the load when not going up hills.
Taken 11 years ago, these photos really show how close Jack’s push truck gets to the load he’s pushing (a crane). You can see the pad that the push bar pushes against, how the trucks make contact.
A few years ago Jack and some other truckers took these pipe rack units from Fairbanks to Alpine, an area of Prudhoe Bay owned by Conoco-Phillips. You’ll see the units being loaded, then Jack driving behind other units. You can see the pipes in the middle of the structure as well as the valve controls on the top. These units are lined up next to each other and connected as part of the process of extracting oil and getting it into the pipeline to go south. In one of the ice road photos you can see a pipeline on the right.
They drive through tundra, over mountains, and finally on the ice roads of Prudhoe Bay. The last couple of photos, the ones where the road doesn’t look particularly icy, they are passing over a river. If you are also rather astute (and here I am giving you a clue) you can also see Jack’s reflection in the mirror, as well as a reflection of the small fan that he had mounted on the dash that could turn toward the windshield to defrost it or toward him on hot days.
(The best way to view the photos is to click on the first one and then click on the right arrow.)
As some of you have heard, there was a terrible accident on the Dalton Highway recently. Two trucks were in a head-on collision about 75 miles from Prudhoe Bay back in October. Jack arrived on the scene about an hour after it happened so he was able to document it for his bosses. We’re sharing the photos with you but please keep Jack McCahan in your thoughts as he is in serious condition still even after over a month.
Apparently Jack McCahan was able to crawl out of the burning wreck only a short time before it was engulfed in flames. Photos below show the burnt truck. It doesn’t even look like a truck anymore. Very scary.
(Click on one and scroll.)
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone and please always drive safely, whether you are a trucker or not.
Some memories are dictated much by the weather. Storms, wind, rain, and very often, sun. Sometimes the sun falls just right, and the breeze is peaceful, and you’re in a good place. It might so happen that it’s 40 below, but some things can’t be helped.
This is my single favorite photo of Jack. It is November 2006. His face is a little stiff from the cold but the afternoon setting sun shows how much he enjoys this crazy job of taking big things to faraway places.
In this case he gets to bring bridge beams to the Donjek River in Yukon Territory, Canada.
Jack actually helped haul the bridge beams in the summer and is now (November 2006) back in the winter to pick them up again and bring them down to the crane on the ice.
There are two cranes used to pick up the bridge beam. The yellow piece that is at the right in the photo above is hanging from the other crane which is behind the person taking the photo (Jack).
The trucks are awaiting another bridge beam to load.
Have a great day!