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Thread: Denali Hwy close call

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Denali Hwy close call

    My buddy and I planned an overnighter on the Denali Hwy in search of some good times, bunnies, and ptarmigan. Knowing full well that the road may not be passable via trucks, we knew we were taking a chance driving all the way up there. We've taken the chance in the past, and have scored slam-dunks. Pulling into Paxon, the weather was clear with no obvious new snow, and hard packed 8 inches of snow on the road. The first indicator that we probably shouldn't proceed was the fact that there were no truck tracks on the road, just snow machines. We went up hill about 4 miles in 4 wheel drive with minimal tire slippage, making sure to get out every now and then to test the depth of the snow pack on the road (which was difficult enough to make out in snow). The clouds moved in from nowhere, we topped the hill and started going down and I immediately felt the truck start to dig. We got out and saw about 18 inches of wind drift over the road and our tires were only digging. We were not to where we wanted to hunt birds yet, and that spot was too far to snow shoe from where we were stopped, that we gave it one more college try. Didn't go anywhere but deeper. I got out and shoveled a bit, we put the chains on and managed our way back to the top of the hill in reverse. Knowing we could get out (all down hill to the hwy) we were willing to set up my Kodiak Condo and start hoofing it to the hills in search of ptarmies. Tent is set up and it starts to snow....not little snow, big snow! The flakes were piling up in front of our eyes. It was noon and we thought we'd go out for a few hours on the snow shoes then make a decision to stay/leave after that. No way man, snow was piling up thicker and thicker as we stood there. Pretty soon we couldn't see our tracks on the road or anything. Not wanting to be stupid and cocksure, we reluctantly packed up our tent and headed out to the hwy to some bunny spots we knew of. We had a very difficult time getting out of there even with chains on. I'm sure glad we didn't wait it out; could've had the truck stuck 'till June. We scored some bunnies and luckily didn't make headlines. It goes to remind me that Alaska is unforgivable and mistakes can be costly. Now I'm lookiing for a snow machine.....
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    Default Denali Snow

    Man! I wish it would snow like that in Fairbanks! lol.
    Glad you guys got out OK. There's a reason the signs say no maintenance in the winter... ha!
    One year I was coming out towards the Cantwell end and my buddy and I ran into a lone pick up truck several miles in and he was stuck big time. I hooked up and helped pull his truck out with my sled and he got on his way. He didn't speak English very well and had a rifle with him and caribou were darting across the road in front of us as we made our way back in.... seemed kind of suspect but ya... now I have driven my truck up the Taylor Highway and had it start to snow and man I was one nervous Nellie getting out of there let me tell you. :-)
    Glad you guys had a overall OK trip, got some bunnies and had a story you lived to tell about. :-)

  3. #3

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    Good times, nice to see you came away with meat too!

    This got me thinking on an almost completely unrelated topic, suppose your truck was perma-stuck and you had to abandon it. Barring human interference, I wonder if your truck would really be that bad off if it sat caked in snow for winter and was unburied next spring. I would think it would have some rust, obviously a dead battery, and a rough time starting, but I bet if you sucked out all the gas you could and replaced it with fresh, you would be able to drive it out next spring. Any thoughts/experiences?

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asrjb25 View Post
    Good times, nice to see you came away with meat too!

    This got me thinking on an almost completely unrelated topic, suppose your truck was perma-stuck and you had to abandon it. Barring human interference, I wonder if your truck would really be that bad off if it sat caked in snow for winter and was unburied next spring. I would think it would have some rust, obviously a dead battery, and a rough time starting, but I bet if you sucked out all the gas you could and replaced it with fresh, you would be able to drive it out next spring. Any thoughts/experiences?
    I believe that experiment was attempted up on the haul road not too long ago.....As I recall it was a fairly detrimental to the trucks involved....
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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    Ah the Tundra Trucks. Here's my blog and articles on them.

    Glad you made it out ok.
    Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North
    http://cloud9doula.wordpress.com/

    Does this shotgun make my butt look big?

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Informative post...

    Thanks for the post, C&B and reminder to stay safe.
    Like you said, Alaska can be unforgiving. Stories that do make the papers are sprinkled with clues of the misfortune that followed. Maybe there should be more news stories like this - lessons with happy endings.

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    If you leave your truck or car parked for 6 months or more, the only thing you would need to do is disconnect the battery. The reason is the newer trucks and cars need battery power all the time and you will have a dead battery by summer.

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    Member mit's Avatar
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    Get a snowmachine and quit tearing up the trail/road.
    Tim

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    Default Thanks for

    the info. It will make me think twice when I head out again. I keep the truck ready with emergency supplies, but I would still hate to be in a bad situation. Glad you made it back safe.

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    Smile White Flag

    Waving the white flag of surrender (or retreat in this case) sure wasn't an easy decision to make. Both of us talked each other into the "right thing to do" and once we pulled into Anchorage (+250 miles later) Mother Nature confirmed to us that the decision was a wise one. Not forcasted, but 4-6 inches of white blizzardy powder was coming in horizontally. I can only imagine what that equates to as it drifts across the Denali Hwy. I can remember 3 years ago in April, my friend and I drove down the freshly plowed Denali Hwy and the corridor walls of snow towered 12 feet high in one location. Anyway, it was a wake up call.

    MIT: I'm sorry we tore up the sno-go trails, surely our mark is 2 feet below sight by now. Yes, I need/want/desire/dream of a snow machine like a kid wants recess. Someday...

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    yeah....at least we didn't take 4wheelers...that would have been dumb

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    Default wheelers

    Quote Originally Posted by Frogman77 View Post
    yeah....at least we didn't take 4wheelers...that would have been dumb
    Yea, but we could have gotten a few more miles in on 4 wheelers.

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    true...and then the truck would be gone by the time we got back.....haha!

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    I miss my 17...

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    You leave a rig there , just wait till the Arctic Man crowd gets there. you would not want it back after that. You made the right call and had the right gear to get you through the OOOpsies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by asrjb25 View Post
    Good times, nice to see you came away with meat too!

    This got me thinking on an almost completely unrelated topic, suppose your truck was perma-stuck and you had to abandon it. Barring human interference, I wonder if your truck would really be that bad off if it sat caked in snow for winter and was unburied next spring. I would think it would have some rust, obviously a dead battery, and a rough time starting, but I bet if you sucked out all the gas you could and replaced it with fresh, you would be able to drive it out next spring. Any thoughts/experiences?
    yiiikes..... we hunted (with horses) late season elk in the bighorns, and some unlucky hunters parked their rigs over a crest and into a bowl. it started snowing and didn't stop. we rode out past their "abandoned" outfits mired in DEEP snow. by next spring, animals and man had pretty well wrecked everything.

    nature will have her way.........like it or not!

    happy trails.
    jh

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