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Old 03-20-2020, 06:55 PM   #1
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Do not pull a camper down a snowy mountain.

On our way from Moab, UT to Golden CO, we stopped in Evergreen, CO at the Walmart to shop. Also we needed a place to stay the night because our destination at Clear Creek RV Park in Golden would not be available until tomorrow. We were aware that a winter storm was blowing in tomorrow so we thought we had enough time to spend the night in the parking lot, get up in the morning and drive the 15 miles down to Golden BEFORE the storm hits.
Evergreen is a very comfortable Walmart to boondock and everything went fine until we woke up to 4 fresh inches of snow. To our surprise, the fast moving storm blew in early and was not going to let up. Btw, it ended up snowing over a foot of snow!
So we had to make a decision. Wait out the storm for another day or two or chance it and drive to our reserved campsite 15 miles down the mountains to Golden. We checked online I70 webcams and it showed traffic moving slowly and partially snow covered roads. We decided to go for it!!!
Our ignorance was that the 15 miles we needed to go down the 1,600 feet elevation on I70 was steep grades and curves. It was still snowing hard, and we did not see any snow plows. Traffic was light, because most people were smart enough to stay off the mountains!
Driving was very difficult and the warning signs for truckers added to the tension. Big signs warning truckers of the 6% grades downhill and curves. One sign even said ďTruckers DO NOT BE FOOLED! There is still 1.5 miles of steep grades and curves.Ē Most of the way downhill it basically felt like 6,500 lbs of travel trailer pushing my 4,500 lbs truck!!! I tried to keep at around 10- 20 mph but with brakes pumping, the gravity, weight, and slick roads would push me faster.
The 25 terrifying minutes seemed to last an hour. My hands were trembling, I was sweating, and we both sounded like we were practicing the Lamaze controlled breathing technic for child birth!
We had a line of vehicles behind us. Not sure if they thought we knew what we were doing but we were mostly out of control. A couple times Cindy asked if I should pull off on an off ramp, but I just could not slow down enough to safely do that. We even contemplated exiting on the Runaway Truck ramp but I was afraid other vehicles may follow and that would result in a real mess!
Well somehow, we made it down to our exit ramp and it was level surface. The temperature was a few degrees warmer here and the streets were not as bad and we made it to our campsite.
Lesson learned? Thinking back, my gut said donít go but my ignorance of the actual road conditions said I donít want to stay in a Walmart parking lot for a couple more days. And we will not get a refund for our campsite in Golden. So letís go for it and see what happens. In hindsight, we should have stayed at Walmart or even stayed in a nearby motel.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:40 PM   #2
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I lived in CO for 10 years and know exactly where you were driving and what you went through.

The part where the signs say "Truckers Don't Be Fooled" should be heeded by all, especially with snow on the road.

My Tow Vehicle a 4WD but because of my experiences in mountain driving I carry chains for the truck AND a set of chains for the trailer. I have taken the hint from Freight drivers and not only chain up the truck in snow but for any downhill towing I also put a set of cable chains on the rear wheels of the trailer. Helps keep the trailer behind the truck where it belongs.

As for traffic lining up behind me, sorry, but I'll be driving a safe speed. They're free to pass and I'll give them their half of he road to do so.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:46 PM   #3
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Chains? That would have been wonderful! I said I tried to keep my speed at 10-20 MPs. It was impossible to go below 30-35. Unfortunately we kept speeding up when I’d pump my breaks!!!!
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:49 PM   #4
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Pretty scary.... Glad you made it safely.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:29 PM   #5
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Glad you made it safely!
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Old 03-21-2020, 06:16 AM   #6
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Chains? Unfortunately we kept speeding up when Iíd pump my breaks!!!!
That was because you would probably start sliding every time you touched the brakes, I drove tractor trailer for UPS and mostly pulled doubles, we always tried not to use the brakes a lot in snow, I would just slow my speed and let others pass if they felt the need. Glad your adventure is over and your safe.
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Old 03-21-2020, 06:54 AM   #7
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Glad you made it safely. Lesson learned for all of us!
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Old 03-21-2020, 07:54 AM   #8
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I felt my pulse go up just reading your story! Glad you are safe!!!
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:06 AM   #9
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one should not take chances and drive in conditions they are not comfortable with . been up and over those passes for 30 yrs back and forth between Vail and Denver in blizzards snow packed roads and black ice caution is always best
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:41 AM   #10
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Like Titan Mike said if you are going to travel in snow and ice in the mountains a set of drag chains on the trailer can save your bacon. You can use the trailer brakes in manual to slow yourself while keeping things straight. Good you got thru it without problems sort of a lesson learned.
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:06 AM   #11
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That was because you would probably start sliding every time you touched the brakes, I drove tractor trailer for UPS and mostly pulled doubles, we always tried not to use the brakes a lot in snow, I would just slow my speed and let others pass if they felt the need. Glad your adventure is over and your safe.
Yes that is correct. Shifting to a lower gear helped too but constantly pumping my break, I believe is what kept us from losing it! The road was just so damn slick and the grade so steep, I could not slow to a crawl. Like a roller coaster ride!
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:00 AM   #12
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Glad you made it through your ordeal and are safe. I am curious though as to what gear you were in coming down the grade?
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:21 AM   #13
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I’m sure you were pinching your sphincter with this one. I’m glad you came out of it alive and you must give yourself credit for doing so. Even if your decision to travel was a bad one, you should be proud of yourself for being able to handle the situation.

I carry chains for both my truck and my trailer, but I don’t think I would take a trip with the intent to use the chains for the trailer. I have them for that “just-in-case” type of situation. I have never used the trailer chains, but I’m still glad I have them.

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Old 03-21-2020, 11:13 AM   #14
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Chains? That would have been wonderful! I said I tried to keep my speed at 10-20 MPs. It was impossible to go below 30-35. Unfortunately we kept speeding up when Iíd pump my breaks!!!!
I kind of gathered you didn't have chains. With all the mountain driving I've done, and plan on continuing, a set of chains for both truck and trailer rest comfortably behind the rear seat.

Don't plan on using them to go into the snow but I learned years ago that snow can happen when you least expect and there's nothing like being prepared so you can get out of it safely.

Glad you made it down the hill safely. As I said earlier, I know that road and when snow and ice is on the road it's just pure nasty.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:24 PM   #15
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What a terror trip! I was holding my breath reading this! Chains are required on trailers in California in chain control.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:42 PM   #16
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What a terror trip! I was holding my breath reading this! Chains are required on trailers in California in chain control.
Not to mention that chains are required to be CARRIED in many states (especially CO) during winter months when traveling mountain passes.

Something many don't realize or in some cases just ignore.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:55 PM   #17
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Living in the Sierras I learned ALWAYS carry chains, both vehicles, better safe than sorry. The weather is always unpredictable and forcasts are frequently wrong. I got caught in a bad storm last Dec. I was glad I had put chains on my rv as I saw others slide off the road on the steep mountainaeous descent (fortunately into the hillside.)
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Old 03-21-2020, 01:06 PM   #18
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Living in the Sierras I learned ALWAYS carry chains, both vehicles, better safe than sorry. The weather is always unpredictable and forcasts are frequently wrong. I got caught in a bad storm last Dec. I was glad I had put chains on my rv as I saw others slide off the road on the steep mountainaeous descent (fortunately into the hillside.)

I was towing a trailer across I-90 to Seattle one June when suddenly there was 4" of snow on the road in Snoqualmie Pass. Good old WA State weather.
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Old 03-21-2020, 01:09 PM   #19
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Good reminder

Thanks for the reminder to use more common sense. Glad you made it safe.
Thanks.
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Old 03-21-2020, 01:15 PM   #20
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Glad you made it down safely. Nowhere in your post do I read where you MANUALLY applied the trailer brakes (GENTLY) to keep "the tail from wagging the dog". A gentle, manual application of trailer brakes can help to keep the trailer BEHIND the tow vehicle thus negating the trailer's greater weight. You don't "ride" the trailer brakes. Short, quick manual applications should be all that's needed to stay in control.
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