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Thread: dragging a trailer Haines to Anchorage in winter

  1. #1
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    Default dragging a trailer Haines to Anchorage in winter

    Sorry about the cross-post... I'm just looking for advice before this weekend, and it occurred to me that not many people might read the "Alaska by Road" forum. Anyway here's my questions:

    I'm taking the Bellingham-Haines ferry in the dead of winter (very end of January), from where I will be driving to Anchorage. Ideally I would like to take a small (5x8) cargo trailer behind the pickup truck. However I have little experience driving on snow and ice.

    Can this reasonably be done? Or is this an incredibly stupid idea. I can have my stuff shipped if I have to, I would just prefer to be able to bring a trailer up to Anchorage. But not if I have to drive the 800 miles at 5 mph...

    Thanks for any advice.

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    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    I have done it towing a 3 horse bumper pull trailer, it is very doable, but I have 20 years experience driving on ice. In my case, it was Jan, 2005, and it was a record cold... -72 in Northway, and -68 at Beaver Creek.

    Some of my issues included a delaminating serpentine belt, and a rear xfer case seal blown out. I did 80% of the drive in 2wd. Since I was driving from AK to Mississippi via Haines and Bellingham, I took my studded tires off, and ran my summers. When it is that cold, the ice is actually a little sticky, and it wasn't too bad... I probably averaged 50 mph on the trip.

    If I were you, I would have good studded tires or at least somewhat new stud less winter tires. Pack a set of tire cables just in case... You will be going through some elevation shortly out of Haines. If your truck is 4wd, great, helps with stability on the curves, but is not a cure all for traction. A front wheel drive car is actually better than a truck in 2wd.

    Plan on 12-16 hours for the drive. If weather is inclement, plan on being able to huddle up for the night. Rooms may be available along the way at Beaver Creek, Tok, or Glenallen. However I would plan on having the gear to sleep on the side of the road in your rig if necessary. It goes without saying that you should have the typical emergency equipment. Plan on having very little traffic... I actually just stopped in the middle of the highway to take care of physiological needs when a pullout wasn't handy.

    Keep your headlights clean, your washer fluid full, and take it easy. It is not a difficult trip at all, but some precautions are always necessary.
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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    The main thing is heed the weather reports. You don't want to get caught in a storm....
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    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    Based on your other posts, I wonder if you may be coming up from either Travis or McGuire via Oklahoma?
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Take the advice of the Mounties at Plesant Camp on the border.
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    I did this trip in 07 in Jan pulling a 20' gooseneck loaded and have a lot of time on snow and ice. No bigger than that trailer is I would not worry much make sure you have weight in the bed of the truck and you have new winter tires and chains if possible. That time of the year it will be hard to find fuel and a place to sleep unless you sleep in the pickup so carry extra fuel as well, and a extra trailer tire, truck spare. Have good winter sleeping gear in the truck in the event of a problem so u can get to it from with in the truck. If you do not have an driving time on ice and snow Google that and see what you can learn over the internet so you can practice a bit before you start the trip. I know that sounds odd but I have had several driving course over the years and you would be surprised what you can learn on the internet and when you need it you will remember and instinctively do it. Good luck

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  7. #7

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    Like the others have said, it should be fine as long as you take your time and pay attention to the weather. If you end up hitting the section between Glenallen and Anchorage on a weekend with decent snow on the ground, you will probably see 25-50 others on the road with small cargo trailers hauling snowmachines heading out to recreate. Hauling a small, or even good sized, cargo trailer in the winter is not a unique thing around here, but still something to do with caution. I agree with the others, have winter gear and food with you in the cab of the truck. It isn't uncommon for someone who runs off the road to be stuck in their vehicle until help arrives, so that extra gear/supplies in the bed of the truck or trailer aren't going to do you any good if you can't get to them from where you are sitting.

    While there used to be issues with finding fuel during the winter on that route, it really isn't an issue these days. There are a lot more places open year round and 24 hours a day now than there used to be. As long as you don't leave a decent sized area without topping off, you should never come close to running out before getting to the next opportunity for fuel unless you run your truck while parked for extended lengths of time or have abnormally short range. An extra can or two can't hurt for safety reasons, but not something absolutely critical. Pay attention to any signs on the highway indicating "next gas xxx miles" as well just to be sure. Make sure to fill up, even if you aren't that low, at the bigger communities along the way. If you have to fill up at one of the small, remote areas, the price can be double the cost.

    Enjoy the drive. I prefer driving the Alcan in the winter over the summer since the roads are smoother (potholes are filled with snow/ice) and you don't have all the tourist traffic to work around.

  8. #8

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    Your coming up in the coldest time! The road for the most part is good, from Haines junction to the border is the worst part of the road. If you could ship your cargo and don't have much experience in snow and ice that would be my plan. Have your truck checked out good battery, tires, pack a sleeping bag, some hi energy food, candles, good flashlight, tools expect -50 in the Yukon and possible rain and snow mixed in Haines. Not trying to scare you just the truth I drove those roads for a living it could be the best trip ever but "PLAN FOR THE WORST" a lot of the Lodges are closed that time of the year. Watch you fuel keep your tank topped. Remember you need a Passport for Canada and if you have a Bad record ( DUI/DRUGS/FELONY) you can't go through Canada. Long guns are ok all pistols have to be shipped. Take your time drive YOUR speed. Last I would buy the "MILEPOST" it is the Bible of the Alcan a great resource. Good Luck!

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    Wow, thanks for all the advice! I didn't think that anyone was going to reply at all. Pretty awesome that this is such an active community.

    I think based on the advice and some other factors I'm not gonna try pulling a trailer. I'll have enough on my plate just navigating the roads in my truck.

    I do plan on getting a good pair of studded tires and having all the camping/survival gear I need to last a few days in my vehicle if weather or engine malfunction should strike.

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