Where I’ve Been: Fun n’ Freaky Snow Days, Part 2

Now, yesterday I posted some fun pics from when I got to explore when I was shut down due to the freeway being closed.  Where the freeway was closed the weather was awful.  Where I was, it was beautiful.  So that was fun.  But about a week later, I got to actually experience some of the un-fun kind of weather.

Icy!

I had to chain up my truck, got towed a bit, and literally was driving with my heart in my throat as I drove down a 6% grade on packed ice, hoping that I wouldn’t slip.  At that kind of grade, it is difficult to keep from gaining momentum, and on ice, that is especially dangerous when you have to apply brakes to keep from going too fast.  Jake brakes are not recommended on slippery slopes, and chains require low speeds and low gears anyway.

This all happened on I-70.  This time I was in Colorado, heading east before the Eisenhower Tunnel, and continuing on up past Vail.  I had stopped at Eagle, CO, since I had seen signs that said that chains were required past a certain milepost, and I wanted to know if those chain requirements had been lifted.  In Eagle, it was sunny and nice, though there was snow on the ground.  Just not on the road so much.  I spoke with a lady at the information center there, and she was very helpful.  She must have spent ten or fifteen minutes trying to look up freeway conditions information for me.  Such a nice woman!  But according to what she had found, the chain requirements had been lifted.  It was supposed to start snowing again later, so I figured I ought to head out of there and up the mountain before it kicked in.

Well, I got past the area where it said chains were required previously, and it all seemed to be going okay.  The road looked a little bit better than what you see above.  Then, within the space of about ten miles, it suddenly didn’t.  The snow started coming down pretty thick and the road turned into a giant icicle.  I got stuck behind somebody going really, really, slow, which made me have to downshift, which in turn made me lose traction and the next thing you know, I’m stuck.  Drat.

Time to get out the chains.  I start chaining up, and am about 2/3 finished with the job when along comes a wrecker and hooks up to me and pulls me up the hill a mile or two to where it is safer to finish the chaining job.  No charge.  Apparently this is something that the Colorado DOT funds.  Very nice.

Wish he could have pulled me all the way up!

Amazingly, the wrecker didn’t have chains on.  Yet it had enough power to pull me up the hill sans chains.  Crazy.

Anyhow, I get the chains on and continue driving.  I go on up through the tunnel and up the summit by Vail.

1815

So much snow!  By the time I reached the summit, the icky weather had abated quite a bit, though the road conditions were still pretty treacherous.

1807

Downhill was the tricky part.

1809

See the downhill sign in the middle of the pic below?

1818

It gets pretty steep.  It’s a 6% grade, and trying to do that on packed ice….

1825

Well, apparently some people find it tricky on the uphill, too.  See the bunch of cars in the middle of the pic?  It’s an auto-hauler truck that has gone into the ditch.

18271829Somehow, most folks avoided the same fate and that’s the only wreck I saw that day.

This adventure ended up ruining all but one of the chains I had on the truck, since there were patches where there wasn’t snow, and  I sure didn’t want to take the chains off at one place, only to have to put them back on again five miles down the road.  I don’t care to be a human popsicle, thank you very much (might not have been snow on the road, but there sure as hell was on the side of the road where you deal with the chains!).  Besides, there were signs up saying that chains were required.  So it was a moot point.  They had to be on.  Anyway, this happened a few times, and when there isn’t snow on the ground, it kills your chains, is bad for your tires and is bad for the road.

By the way, you might be wondering how I’ve had the presence of mind to take such mind-bendingly awesome pictures all while driving in a panic calmly on ice.  Um….well, it’s not like I was concentrating on it.  I actually just held up the camera, and pointed it in the general direction, and snapped a whole bunch of photos and hoped against hope some would turn out.  I had no idea if any of them would be in focus or what.  So I have hundreds of crappy photos on my camera at all crazy angles and some I’m not even sure WHAT I was trying to take a photo of, but at least I got a few good ones!

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