There’s a lot of pipe moving up to Northern Alberta lately. The loads are legal width and just over-length, so they require a little less work for the pilot car driver (helping the driver out with corners, lane changes and notification of vehicles behind the load).
It’s a run that gives you a little more chance to see the sights along the way. In Jasper, near the B.C.-Alberta border, I saw a grizzly with a cub a couple of times. The second time, cars were parked on the shoulder and the people were out of their cars snapping photos of the pair less than 150 ft. away!
Lots of deer and black bears but I haven’t seen many moose in the last six months, none until my last trip. I’d just told the driver of the load that I hadn’t seen any for a while, and less than five minutes later saw a huge bull moose just off the shoulder.
Fall is in the air. We all got a little spoiled with the exceptional weather for July and into August. On a recent trip to Prince George, the early morning fog created a majestic view. With the mist slowly rising throughout the trees it was a reminder that things are about to change. Soon the temperature will go down and the majestic view will become a serious threat when the bridges become icy. Let’s just be thankful for the nice weather while it’s here, and drive safe out there.
Recent warmer weather is bringing out countless amounts of wildlife, which was evident on recent trips up Hwy 97 to Prince George and on Hwy 33 from Kelowna to Rock Creek. At several points we saw groups of mule and whitetail deer numbering in groups up to 30.
So now the driving hazard is no longer the weather, but the chance that some of this wildlife will make a wild dash in front of your vehicle or the load you are leading. Like I said, every load is different!
It’s a crazy world we live in. I’m not sure if it is changing weather patterns or just a phase we are going through. Last week we had the Coquihalla closed for several times over the course of two days due to near whiteout conditions.
And yet a few days later we are experiencing sunny days with temperatures reaching into the mid to high teens. You can almost see the grass greening before your eyes.
Unpredictable winter roads make me grateful for the safety equipment we carry in our trucks, that’s for sure. You never know when the road will be blocked by an accident or Mother Nature, so you have to have flares and other equipment there to protect both the load and the pilot truck.
I’ve travelled winter roads from the rainy Lower Mainland to the unpredictable high-mountain Coquihalla Highway to unplowed northern logging/mine access roads, and you have to be ready for anything.
One of the great things about this job is experiencing Mother Nature, whether it be the abundance and variety of wildlife or the extremes of weather. I really noticed that on a hotshot load to Manitoba earlier this month. They were experiencing a hot, dry fall with temperatures in the high 20s the first couple of days of October, and a large grass fire got out of control in southeastern Manitoba. The small town of Vita was evacuated, with four home lost before the fire was contained Less than 72 hours later a freak snowstorm hit the same area, blanketing the town and surrounding area with more than 30 cm of snow and ice. Thousands of rural Manitobans were without power for several days while the utility company worked to repair the lines. It was amazing to hear how upbeat the residents were when faced with this unusual emergency situation.
Wow, lots of water flowing in the BC interior these days. Heading to Golden, and #1 Hwy had just opened east of Sicamous after debris in a creek plugged a culvert and water overflowed onto the highway. On the way back through to Kelowna, we needed to take a detour because of a mudslide between Sicamous and Enderby. Now we need more sunshine and less rain!
Saw a mama bear with three fuzzy cubs near Jasper. The cubs were as small as some cats; it took me a minute to realize what they were!
Somebody asked me what’s been the most unexpected thing that’s happened to me as a pilot car driver. One time our designated route had a bridge that wasn’t wide enough for the load we were piloting. We helped the driver build up the height of the bridge deck with lumber until his truck rode high enough for the load to clear the side rails. Only time that’s ever happened!
Saw three different black bears this past week along Hwy. #5, as well as the usual multiple groups of deer, both white tail and mule. Must have seen at least 200 deer between the Alberta border and Surrey in one trip.