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Old 06-27-2012, 05:26 PM   #1
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White Knuckles - No Trailer

Looking to my left it drops about 3,000 feet. Looking out the window of my 'Burb I can't even see the road surface. My wheels must be right on the edge. It's a 16% downhill grade, dirt and stone, and it's just barely wide enough for one car even though it is a two lane road. I'm creeping down wondering what made me go up this road in the first place? Oh yeah, it's the Hat Point Overlook of Hell's Canyon in Oregon. A chance to see the Snake river and the Seven Devils snow capped peaks in one view. Now I remember!

The road leaves from Imnaha and climbs 25 miles to the outlook. It's dirt and stones all the way. For most of it, two cars can squeeze by with a paintjob in between. But for 2 of those miles - the steepest 2 - the road is so narrow two cars can't pass - the car going down has to back up until they find a place to "squidge up" onto the uphill side. I just hoped I wouldn't meet a car coming up while I passed those two miles.

There are no guardrails of any kind on the 25 miles. An understatement at the beginning says, "Not Recommended for Trailers." Ha ha.

It was really great at the top. The views are fantastic. I am not sure I would do it again though. I kept imagining a brake failure, or some odd slippage on the stones and the car tumbling thousands of feet to the bottom!

If you get a chance, don't miss the drive to Hat Point Overlook!
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:38 PM   #2
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I would be happy just to see whatever pict you took
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:01 PM   #3
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Great imagery. Reminds me of some roads in the Yukon. Only 12 percent grade, but no shoulders or guard rails. Add a faulty transfer case that slipped into neutral while descending, for the 'white knuckles'. Can't wait to do it again.
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by LiLNomad View Post
I would be happy just to see whatever pict you took
When your knuckles are stark white, locked to the steering wheel and every passenger in the TV is hugging the uphill side door? Just who can handle a camera at this point?

RWG - I've felt similar sensations going downhill (sans trailer of course) on the east side of Going-to-the-Sun road when there is a 2-mile wide cirque just 2' from the pavement out the passenger side windows. And from Diamond Lake, OR, going south, climbing up toward Mazama campground at Crater Lake.
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:29 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by redwoodguy View Post

The road leaves from Imnaha and climbs 25 miles to the outlook. It's dirt and stones all the way. For most of it, two cars can squeeze by with a paintjob in between. But for 2 of those miles - the steepest 2 - the road is so narrow two cars can't pass - the car going down has to back up until they find a place to "squidge up" onto the uphill side. I just hoped I wouldn't meet a car coming up while I passed those two miles.
LOL, last summer, I took a road here in Idaho to Tom Beal Park. It had recently opened but there were still patches of snow. I had my Jeep only. On one narrow stretch, I looked ahead and here comes a pickup with a huge horse trailer down. As you said, it was his responsibility to back up to a spot to get off the road, and let me pass, but I took pity on him (the idiot) and did the backing up. I can't imagine backing up a horse trailer in the snow up hill at least a quarter of a mile. What would have been great would have been two trucks with horse trailers trying to pass. In fact one came up behind me not too long after I got to the top, but they probably passed on a wider section of the road.

Thanks for the memories. I should go to that lookout sometime, it is not all that far from me.
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:33 PM   #6
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Reminds me of things I've gotten myself in and they always started with me saying, "I wonder where that goes?"

I had this girlfriend with a truck that would stall in the worst places, like Radical Hill in Colorado. It wasn't long, but it felt like a 50% grade. Mostly one lane with a serious drop off. I'd be creeping up (no power at that altitude, damn Dodge!) and it would stall. I'd get it started and that usually meant it would roll back a foot and I didn't have many feet to give up. After stalling a few more times, made to the top with my feet so tense they were shaking. This was after descending Red Cone, across the valley. Red Cone is all rocks about 4 or 5" in diameter, not really a road. One by one the trucks and jeeps would start down. The Toyota pickup in front us went down sideways—that was a sight to see. This was more than 30 years ago—not as much traffic in the backcountry in those days, but many were drinking while they drove these "roads". You had too.

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Old 06-27-2012, 06:46 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by LiLNomad View Post
I would be happy just to see whatever pict you took
Mine are on film. I won't develop them until next week. But my wife has a little digital cam and I will see what she got. The funny thing is, there are some landscapes like this, which are so big the don't translate well in a photo. I'm importing hers now, and I'll see how she did.

As far as on that road, she was definitely NOT free to handle a camera! I'm pretty old, have driven an awful lot of miles on a lot of mountain roads, and that was for sure the scariest for me. I am not kidding when I say my heart was pounding. There was something very, very unnerving about not seeing some road skirt when I looked out my window.

BTW, the road out of Joseph to Halfway, which we DID tow was no picnic either. Although it was paved, it was a hairy road. It was long - about 75 miles - and had some of the tightest turns you can imagine. So, near the bottom, what do I see coming up? The longest Mayflower moving rig they operate! I really do not think he can make the turn he will see 10 miles farther in . I dunno know.
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:00 PM   #8
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Picture from the top. Even with a wide angle here, it just doesn't quite translate. But that is the Snake below at elevation 1400, and the peaks are 10,000.
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