Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, February 5, 2007

We're into Camp!

My apologies - our crew flew into Yellowknife January 17th. I and the 3 fellows I am working with were bunked in at the Super 8 Hotel In Yellowknife till the road was pushed through to the old Discovery Mine site - now Tyhee. We moved into camp Friday, Feb 2nd after patrolling the portion of the road that was done during the stay in the hotel.

The route we are on will be a southern diversionary route that the empty trucks will use coming back to yellowknife. This will aleviate some of the stress on the southern portion of the regualr ice road as well as 50 kilometers of traffic on the Ingram Trail between Yellowknife and Tibbett Lake (the starting point of the ice/winter road. The route we're on will cut off at Gordon LAke about 50 or 60 kilometers from Tibbett Lake and travel west to Tyhee about 40 kilometers and then south to the Ingram Trail 89 kilometers and from there it's 20 kilometers west into Yellowknife.

We've seen a few wolves in the 3 weeks we've been here as well as some otters and a mink. The temperatures have ranged between -15 degrees centigrade and -25 degrees however this morning we woke to -29 in Tyhee and Yellowknife was -30. Many of the days have been bright and sunny and it's enjoyable being back here.

This photo is a picture of the wolf I saw at the closest range.

This photo is the camp at Tyhee. It probably is designed as a 50 person camp but art f it is closed off and at present there are only 22 of us in camp. Tyhee is actively exploring and drilling to check the viability of further development of gold mining in the area.

This photo is a nice sunset taken along the winter road.

And another sunset with flooders in the foreground.

Here's a picture of myself with the patrol truck. Our crew amounts to 19 men and 9 trucks.

Here's a full moon over the bush alongside a lake. The rosey tint to the sky is typical of many clear days and often can be seen on the whole horizon - 360 degrees

This picture was taken of 3 otters on the Yellowknife River some 50 kilometers up the winter road.

This photo is a "tent frame" that is being used by a couple prospectors/claim stakers. I caught the sun coming up over it one morning before they moved in.

It sounds like it will be 2 - 3 weeks before southbound trucks will be diverted down the stretch of road I'm patrolling on so the shifts are not very busy! We speak with snowmobilers and sport fishermen and other recreatinal users of the road and make them aware of the upcoming traffic and everyone has been so understanding and courteous. well, net posting? I'm not sure but I will try and update it within 2 weeks. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

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Heading North Next Week!

It's "all systems go"! The bags are packed - the skype account as well as IM Messenger are intact and ready for use - internet access permitting. We're hearing good reports about weather and road conditions and even the thought loads may be starting to go in as early as early the week of Jan. 22nd! They will be part (lighter) loads because of ice thicknesses not being up to full weight strength. This photo is a Road maintenance water truck that went through the ice on a pond about 10 kilometers north of Charlie's Hill.

Monday, January 1, 2007

This map shows the route of the winter road. To repeat, in 2005 I was at the LacDeGras road camp at kilometer 350. In 2005 I was at Dome Lake camp. The tree line is aproximately kilometer 270. I hope you find this interesting and gives a picture of how the road is laid out.
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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Work has started on the winter road for 2007

Click on the link below to read an article on the CBC website relating to the winter road preparation for the 2007 season.

Maintenance of the Winter Road

In the three camps along the winter road; Dome Lake, Lockhart, and LacDeGras, there is a wide variety of road maintenance equipment as well as operators to run the equipment and mechanics for maintaining same. An expereinced "lead hand" is also situated in each camp to oversee the maintenance activity. The first picture is a "profiler" which pulls a "profiling instrument" (a radar unit) which measure the thickness of the ice to first of all establish the strength of present ice so heavier snow movement equipment can go to work or ongoing profiling to ensure thicknesses of the ice is sufficient to handle the heavy loads being transported on the road.

The first picture is a "Hagland" manufactured by Mercedes Benz and I understand was purchased from the US Military. The above picture is a Toyota diesel landcruiser with track units pulling a profiling unit. As a side note I was told a Saskatchewan farmer was the inventor of the track units that replace each wheel. I drove one of these units with the profiling operator in 2005 and it was interesting to drive up to a snowbank the height of the vehicle and climb up over into the snow beyond. Behind this second profiler picture there's a grader with a V Plow following cutting out the new road where the profiler has confirmed the ice thickness is sufficient for the grader's weigth. When a piece of machinery was cutting a new another vehicle and person would be close by to maintain a watch for safety reasons.

Graders are the mainstay for opening and maintaining the winter road however Haglands and snow cats are often needed to open the road because of their much lower weights.

This picture is of a snow cat manufactured by Bombardier ("That's MY snowcat" - another idea for a TV commercial for Bombardier)? The pads on each side of these snow cats are about 36 inches wide.

This snowblower situated at LacDeGras camp is powered by a V12 diesel engine and it creates a spectacular rooster tail of snow which on a clear day with a beautiful blue sky is a glorious site. In the packed snow alongside lakes above the tree line the operator could only "bit" off a strip along the bank about 2 feet wide.

To "flood" the ice in order to build up ice thickness and heal weak spots "school" buses were with large diesel engines would suck water from the lakes and an equally impressive stream of water was produced that pumped several gallongs on water a minute out as far as 150 or so feet. Ice augers, both hand held and 6 foot long hydraulic units mounted on the rear of a pickup would preceed the buses. Often "hurricane pumps" which sat in the holes made in the ice were used for flooding as well. As one an imagine, a huge anount of ice fog could be produced with 100's of gallons of fresh water being pumped onto the road surface so the vehicles were slowed to 5 km/h when going through these zones or passing cres working on the road surface.

Crawler tractors and loaders were used as well for clearing snow on the portages.

An impressive task to clear some 400 kilometers of road in a time frame of about 3 to 4 weeks between the time of there being sufficient ice to support the construction and maintenance equipment and the time the loads start to travel.