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Old 10-18-2012, 12:09 PM   #1
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Highway(s) Thru Hell

There is a reality show on the Discovery Network called "Highway Thru Hell." It is filmed here in B.C., and shows the trials and tribulations of a heavy rescue/towing outfit based in Hope.

The series is aptly named; most of the series is filmed during their busy season - winter. I've gleaned a new respect for the truckers who only have three highway choices when it comes to moving their goods to and from the Port of Vancouver to points north or east. All three involve mountain driving. The choice is usually determined by this: What highway am I least likely to die on today?

Highway 1 or the Fraser Canyon route is a narrow twisting highway. One of the highest climbs involves Jackass Mountain, a.k.a. the RV killer. Semis crawl up this hill with all four flashers going. There is no place for them to pull over and let traffic through. If you get behind a semi, you better have a lot of patience. It is also notorious for rockslides. In one episode of Highway Thru Hell, a semi-truck and trailer swerved to avoid a large rock on the road and crashed head-on into another semi. Both trucks then burst into flames and careened off the road, dropping 200' into the canyon below. Nice. The "upswing" is that Highway 1 is a little closer to sea level than the alternate routes, so it does not get as much snow. If the rocks and steep embankments don't get you - you just might make it.

Highway 3 or the Hope-Princeton is twistier than the Fraser Canyon. What gets me is the fact there aren't as many guard rails to prevent one from plunging into eternity. There is one hairpin turn that is notorious for accidents. Some of the trucks have missed this turn and gone off the cliff. The drop is so steep that they are just left as a non-salvagable wreck. The route is also prone to heavy snowfall. The Hope-Princeton isn't as prone to as many rock slides as the Fraser Canyon - maybe because the entire face of a mountain broke away in 1965, killing four motorists so the diety of big rocks is satsified (for now.) The Hope-Princeton is the less travelled, so the "upswing" is the fact that there are fewer coming in the opposite direction to crash into.

The last is the Coquihalla or "The Coq." Most of the action on Highway Thru Hell is filmed there. Heading out of Hope, a lot of the Coq involves a 8% grade. However, it is the only route which is a four-lane divided highway which would be a godsend after the two-laned Highways 1 and 3. It can be a nice drive in the summer, but winter is another matter. The Coq is a high avalance area. Despite an ambitious avalanche-control programme, the risk is often too high so the highway will be shut down for as long as 24 hrs. Chains are mandatory in the winter, but they do not guarantee you will make the climb. Since the Coq is the choice for most truckers, the route also has more than its share of traffic-stalling accidents. You better pack lots of warm clothes, blankets, food, and make sure your gas tank is as full as possible at all times.

After viewing Highway Thru Hell I have come to one conclusion: No friggin' way would I even attempt any one of these highways with the Airstream in winter. So, I'm pretty well stuck here. The only option would be the I-5 south, which the RV snowbirders are preparing for now. Most of them leave before the end of October, just before the first big frost of the year. Over the border and straight into Arizona, New Mexico, or California. Arizona seems to be the destination of choice for most Canadian RVers. I have no plans as such this year, but it is certainly something to look forward to in future. You can have your Highways Thru Hell in the winter!

Clip features The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coq


Hope-Princeton in Winter


Climbing Jackass Mountain on the Fraser-Canyon Route
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:51 PM   #2
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Very interesting, FAN, thanks for posting this!

(Note to self: do NOT take Henri the Sov to BC!)
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:58 PM   #3
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Aagae, yer welcome.

And please bring Henri to B.C. someday - anytime from late April to October. The scenery is fantastic.
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Old 10-18-2012, 01:02 PM   #4
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Promise me it won't rain?

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Old 10-18-2012, 01:11 PM   #5
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We went accross "the cog" pulling a 25 footer in '10, and it didn't seem like any big deal, but of course, it was in early July.

And, you're right, the scenery was fantastic.
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Old 10-18-2012, 01:22 PM   #6
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FLY--Are you trying to scare everyone away?

All these routes require mountain driving skills that most drivers adapt to very quickly. (or else?)

Mountain driving requires your full attention. That means, let the navigator take the pictures for you to look at later.

Any two-lane mountain highway, (#1 and #3) requires you to drive your own vehicle, and also watch the oncoming and following vehicles, along with the wildlife, the rocks, the road condition, etc, etc.

However, these two routes (#1 and #3) are two of the most desirable scenic routes in North America that have many historical POI along the way to stop and take a breather.

The Coq. is more for getting there in the shortest time, and not for travel entertainment.

Before embarking on any mountain holiday it is absolutely imperative to prepare and maintain your vehicle/s for the intended task.

Jackass Mountain picture.

When you are pulling those long hills, gear down and try to keep the temperatures out of the red.

And nobody has to go to HELL. There is a turnaround here at the Gate on TCH Rt.#1 so you can go back.
http://goo.gl/maps/WZNRV

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[QUOTE=Fly at Night;1217088]There is a reality show on the Discovery Network called "Highway Thru Hell." It is filmed here in B.C., and shows the trials and tribulations of a heavy rescue/towing outfit based in Hope.
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:34 PM   #7
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Low Overhead

There are so many scenic places to explore that we travelers should never get bored with RVing.

However, one must stay awake and read the signage on all roads traveled, but especially the scenic ones.

If you have an AIRSTREAM motorhome, do not take this circle route from the south to beautiful Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island. Access would only be available from the north, not the south of the Lake.

There is a detour route for overheight so you have to read the signs.

shawnigan lake bc - Google Maps

Looking at the view might cost you a new roof.

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Old 02-26-2013, 07:07 PM   #8
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My favourite BC run is on 99 from Horseshoe Bay to 97 which I did with my new then 25' 1997 Safari and 93 Jeep GC. I have also done the others, and they are really beautiful, each with its own flavour. 99 has more boon docking possibilities and requires lots of time. Now that I'm thinking about it, I really miss BC. Alice Lake especially. All the highways mentioned are summer time only friends of Airstream. Jim
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:22 PM   #9
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If you traveled east out of Horseshoe Bay, you had quite a climb.
I think the best way is to travel that route from Cache Creek west on 99 early in the day with the sun on your back. What a beautiful drive that is. Make sure your brakes are in good shape. The navigator can get great pictures traveling west.

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Old 02-26-2013, 07:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
There are so many scenic places to explore that we travelers should never get bored with RVing.

However, one must stay awake and read the signage on all roads traveled, but especially the scenic ones.

If you have an AIRSTREAM motorhome, do not take this circle route from the south to beautiful Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island. Access would only be available from the north, not the south of the Lake.

There is a detour route for overheight so you have to read the signs.

shawnigan lake bc - Google Maps

Looking at the view might cost you a new roof.

Dave
That might be especially difficult for my fellow Americans... Most of us would still be busy trying to remember the conversion to meters when it was time to stop, to say nothing of doing the actual arithmetic.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:03 PM   #11
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You are correct, indeed. The road is also slippery in spots on the west slopes early in the day. I did need 4 low in a few spots and I did have to wait for the tranny to cool down once. But the memory is still pleasant even though my wife's take on the event still prohibits me from regularly charging off to the unknown. She was not paying attention when I got onto the trail to Meat Cove. Perhaps the soft hills of Cape Breton momentarily dulled the memory of the craggy Rockies. Jim
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:08 PM   #12
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That might be especially difficult for my fellow Americans... Most of us would still be busy trying to remember the conversion to meters when it was time to stop, to say nothing of doing the actual arithmetic.
We have more in common than you think. Jim
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Old 12-16-2013, 02:16 PM   #13
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Good article in the Edmonton Journal today about the 'Highway to Hell'.

"Highway rescuer Jamie Davis recounts tales from one of Canada's fiercest winter roads."

Surviving B.C.’s infamous ‘Highway Thru Hell’ | Driving

Scroll down on the page to read the article. Pictures at the bottom.

The interview with Jamie Davis points out some good tips that should be followed by those who do not travel these roads on a regular basis.

http://goo.gl/maps/C4k9P

(sorry about the Google map link, it is now correct)


Stuff happens, but if you are prepared, it then becomes just another bad day.

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Old 12-16-2013, 04:11 PM   #14
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However, one must stay awake and read the signage on all roads traveled, but especially the scenic ones.
Scenic Byway 7 in Arkansas. Compared to some of the roads in the vast untamed West, it's nothing. Steep grades, sometimes, but not long grades. Lots of hairpin turns, some up to 270°, and no place at all to pull off and let others pass; but Arkansas drivers don't care, they pass in the "No Passing" zones anyway, if you're not going fast enough for them. You guys who routinely drive the Rockies would fall asleep at the wheel, it's so mild in comparison to what you're used to.

But to a Gulf Coast flatlander like me, where the highest elevation for a hundred miles in any direction is the Mississippi River levee, it was an eye-opener. Scenic Byway 7 was where I learned that when you see those yellow diamond-shaped advisory signs that say 25mph and show a corkscrew-shaped arrow, you had better be doing 25mph or less, even if the road as a whole is posted 55mph!

I can't even confirm that the area is scenic; I couldn't take my eyes off the pavement long enough to tell.
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