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.
This is an amalgamation of video clips from the Dalton Highway between the Brooks Range and Prudhoe Bay. You’ll see the Trans-Alaska pipeline and a glimpse of Pump 2. It’s not in perfect order, as road aficionados and time clock watchers will notice. I’m new to video editing and sometimes you just have to accept a less than perfect product, to Jack’s chagrin.
Here’s a new video of Jack driving into Fairbanks the other night, sped up so it’s not too tedious. It’s pretty late so not much is going on. Some trucks cleaning up the Steese Highway, that’s about it. It’s in HD so don’t let YouTube show you a poor quality video, if you have decent internet. And it does have some music on it so you may want to reduce the volume if you are sensitive to that. When you add music through YouTube, you can’t determine the volume, so it’s loud.
Call it sunrise or sunset, whatever you want, but the sun has officially shown up in Prudhoe Bay (the photo was taken the 21st of January). From November 24th to January 17th it doesn’t break the horizon but on the 18th it’s just above the horizon for about an hour. During those two months it’s not pitch black all day but instead it’s varying degrees of twilight for a couple of hours each day. On the 19th of January it’s up for an hour and a half, 30 minutes more than the day before, and each day more and more light is gained, though the gain slows down to about 12 minutes a day by the end of January. So people who live and work up there notice a drastic increase in light over this time. At the beginning of February the length of day is about 5 hours and by the end of February it’s about 9.5 hours! At March 21st the length of day is about 12.5 hours and by the 15th of May the sun never sets! This is all according to the website http://www.timeanddate.com (and corroborated by Jack 😉 ).
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!
This is what it looks like when caribou cross your path on the Dalton Highway (click on the first one and scroll to the right to see them full size):
And here are three moose next to the Welcome to Fairbanks sign on the Parks Highway, taken the day after the caribou but there was no snow in Fairbanks at that time (10 days ago). Jack says this is a bull and his harem. You can barely see the one on the other side of the bushes but Jack says he’s a young bull trying to build a harem. The moose on the right looks to me like a young moose, possibly a calf of the cow. All-about-moose.com says about this topic: “The taiga moose calf will stay within visible proximity whereas with tundra moose calves they will generally avoid the harems the bulls collect. Bulls will tolerate yearlings but for the most part calves avoid the harem group.” We didn’t even know there was a difference between taiga and tundra moose.
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.
Two truckers were caught in an avalanche Monday night on the Dalton. Jack was not involved and neither of the drivers were seriously hurt. The road is now closed and the State is working on trying to trigger avalanches before they reopen. We’ve had tons of snow, seems like a record breaking year for snow actually, but for some reason no one made the decision to deal with this before it got to this point.
Photo credit: Jonothan James Kasak via the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner website
“One of the trucks that was stuck was a tanker carrying methanol; the other one carried glycol. When the highway reopens, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will evaluate whether there were any spills. The other two trucks were able to proceed with minimal assistance from a Department of Transportation crew, Bailey said.
Atigun Pass is one of a handful of mountain passes where work crews frequently fire Howitzer artillery at snowcovered slopes to trigger avalanches in order to prevent unplanned slides. Avalanche gates were installed on the south side of the pass three years ago to stop vehicles headed into avalanche danger. This was the first time the gate has been used.”