Snow Phenomenon

Below you can see the unique snow phenomenon that Jack saw on the Dalton when he came over the top of Gobbler’s Knob a few weeks ago. The first video shows him seeing it and the low sun casting alpenglow into his cab. The second is a compilation of clips of it with real audio of he and another driver discussing it and other things. The third (at double speed) is coming up and under it and the blowing snow on the road. And the fourth is later that day, just a beautiful drive going south at 4x speed.

Jack believes the snow phenomenon was a localized wind storm that kicked up snow into what looked like a cloud or even a mountain from far away. It was a windy day overall.

How does Jack stay warm out there? Part 1

You know how some people just have an inner furnace that keeps them warm all the time?  That’s Jack.  At 40 or 50 below he’ll bundle up with Carhartt bibs, and a hat, or maybe a face mask.  But 20 below, that’s just normal to him.

A reader, John Webb, asked “I was just wondering when Jack is out on the Dalton swapping cogs how does he keep warm at night sleeping in his truck and why does’nt he ever wear a serious coat/jacket/parka, I feel cold just watching him get out when he’s hitchin up to his next load.”

Jack's Frostbit EarJack might have an inner furnace, but even he can misgauge temperatures when wind is a factor.  A few years ago at 20 above, Jack frostbit his ear.  This was a serious miscalculation on his part, and it shows what even a minor breeze can result in when it’s still above zero.  (You can see the blister on the outer part but if you notice, almost half of the ear is red and swollen.)

So this is serious stuff to miscalculate on and Jack paid the price this time.

He does wear a serious jacket at those colder temperatures but oftentimes if it’s just a quick jump outside to check the load before leaving, his long-sleeved shirt (over a T-shirt) is enough.  You balance the hassle of getting out your coat, which could be buried in the back under your cooler or lunch or logbook, with how much cold you can handle on your short trip out into it.

As for how he stays warm at night in the truck, stay tuned!


Trucking Through Fires 2004

I just wanted to share with you this amazing photo Jack took in 2004 when wildfires were raging on the Dalton Highway.  Trucks were still moving through but the air quality for drivers was terrible.  Smoke combined with dusty dry conditions.  This was a non-digital photo that I scanned and ran some enhancing on, to a surprisingly interesting effect.

The Alaska West truck has just driven out of heavy smoke and has a substantial dust trail (click photo to enlarge to proper size).  Windy dry conditions exacerbated the fire intensity and level of destruction.

Truck Driving through Wildfire Smoke - Dalton Highway, Alaska 2004

Wikipedia says about the 2004 Alaska fire season:

The 2004 Alaska fire season was the worst on record in terms of area burned by wildfires in the U.S. state of Alaska.[1] Though fewer individual fires formed than in 1989 when almost 1,000 were recorded, more than 6,600,000 acres (27,000 km2) were burned by the approximately 700 fires that ignited. The largest of these fires was the Taylor Complex Fire, which encompassed 1,700,000 acres (6,900 km2) and was the largest fire in the United States from 1997 to 2007.[2] The Boundary Fire, Wolf Creek Fire, Chatanika Fire, and a fire that enveloped the Trans-Alaska Pipeline also received notable attention from firefighting services and the media. All together 426 fires were started by humans and 215 were started by lightning.

Map from Wikipedia:

Map of Alaska Wildfires 2004

You can see how at least one fire burned right over the Dalton.  Even Jack thinks it was a little scary to drive through these fires.  You really can’t see the road but for a few feet… he says the drivers call it “driving by Braille”.  🙂

Thanks for reading!  More wildfire photos to come.