Monday, August 17, 2009

Slippery When Wet

Temperatures have risen to -5 degrees, the ice is turning slushy and snow storms have given way to sleet storms. This can mean only one thing: spring has sprung on The Dalton! And from the looks of things this week, it's going to be a rough end to a very rough season. You know things are bad when "Dalton Ace" Jack Jessee is spinning out on Atigun and slipping and sliding across the Yukon River Bridge. How intense was his ride back to Fairbanks this week??!! When his truck came to a dead stop on Atigun, I literally held my breath. It was so scary! Luckily, the DOT plow was able to give him a tow up the remaining 300 feet.

Later, I was holding my breath once again when he tried to use the truck's momentum to carry him up the 6% grade of the Yukon River Bridge. I was actually scared when the show did that little fake-out leading into the commercial where it showed his rig careening toward the guard rail. Turns out, he slipped and slid, but was able to gain some traction (by downshifting) just in time. And just as a side bar, the animation that shows the truck plunging into the water and landing on the bottom of the river/sea really freaks me it. It's like 10x scarier than the one that shows the truck careening off the side of the mountain (not that I'd want to suffer that fate either, it's just that the water one is so much freakier!).

Meanwhile, my girl Lisa was hauling her most explosive load yet (literally!). After her first load stalled out on her (the air pressure on the trailer wasn't functioning properly), she unhooked her cab and went back inside the Carlile building to get another load. This new load was so dangerous, she had to inform the state police when she started out on the road (and she was quick to point out that the state police ought to always be informed when she's on the road -- hahahaha! I love Lisa!). She was very concerned that shifting (her achilles heel) would once again rear its ugly head on Two & a Half Mile, where last week, she spun out and had to back all the way down the incline to try again. So this week, she tried a little trick where she turned on the fan to cool the engine leading into the incline and then flipped it off at the right moment to give herself extra traction. It worked, and I was relieved.

Elsewhere, George and Tim completed, what could be, their last run together as George will be retiring at the end of this season. They hit a bad patch of low visibility going up Atigun, but otherwise, had a good run back to Fairbanks. Alex got stuck in Coldfoot when his convoy partner had a leak in his oil line and later when a storm settled on Atigun. The two eventually got back on the road to Deadhorse. Hugh and Phil (a.k.a. "Phil-Billy") completed another load and landed back in Fairbanks, but not before Hugh struggled going up the Beaver Slide. He failed to gain track, so he started purposely swirving his truck back and forth across the hill in an attempt to gain footing on something. It worked and it garnered him some serious praise from Phil-Billy. Overall, the road was thawing for the spring and it was making for some dangerous conditions for our fave ice road truckers. But then again, what else is new on the Dalton?

Ice Road Truckers airs Sunday nights on History Channel. To catch up on this season, click on over to where you'll also get show info, driver bios, and an IRT app for your iPhone.

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