When is nice weather — mild and warm — a bad thing?
When you’re a trucker running the temporary trails of northern Canada delivering much-needed supplies to small, remote First Nation villages.
As seen on last night’s episode of Ice Road Truckers, a warm snap caused roads to thaw and lakes to melt and refreeze, making trips even more difficult than normal. Then, the cold returned and made wet roads icy and rough.
Art Burke: It’s not easy being stuck in traffic
Poor Art. Last week he was stuck in traffic overnight as a crew repaired a bad rut in the ice road. In last night’s episode, the Ice Road production crew gave the “bleep” button a workout as Burke was behind a slow moving tanker. And, then two of them. And, then they stopped to take a dog out of one truck and put it in the other.
Art was not amused. He eventually got around them and was ready to finish his trip to Muskrat Dam in more of the Art Burke style: “We’re back in business agains so hammer down!”
But, even Burke’s best laid plans got interrupted as he came upon yet another slow-moving truck. This one just happened to be driven by fellow-Polar Enterprises driver Todd Dewey. He too was hauling building supplies to Muskrat Dam, but was taking a more cautious approach than Burke, not wanting to damage his truck.
“I’d rather get the load in there in one piece and my truck there in one piece rather than not get there at all,” said Dewey.
Narrator Thom Beers got off the line of the night when he called Burke and Dewey “the winter roads’ Odd Couple.”
The two stopped and examined the frozen Muskrat Dam Lake ice crossing that was between them and the completion of their trip. Neither was impressed. Burke went first and Dewey waited to follow until his fellow traveler’s taillights were out of sight.
Dewey observed that they were on “24 inches of ice over 300 feet of water” and Burke was quick to remind, that while “fear is a positive thing,” the “whole object is not to freak out.”
Neither driver did and they arrived safe and dry in Muskrat Dam.
Steph Custance: A load of her own and on her own
The 23-year-old single mom trying to prove herself to her Polar boss Mark Kohaykewych, Steph Custance had, like all the other drivers, half a lod. Hers was headed 400 miles north to the village of Summer Beaver.
The rookie’s was the first truck back on the newly reopened — and mightily slippery — road.
“I want to get there in one piece and get out in one piece,” Custance said. “I just want to get my job done and get home to my son.”
That plan went awry when Custance slid her big blue Kenworth on the ice and smack into the snow — lots of it — on the side of the ice road.
“Mark is not going to be happy about this,” Custance said.
So, she did the only thing she could: start shoveling, and shoveling, and shoveling, and …
Thirteen hours — and still more shoveling — later, Custance tried again and eventually freed her Kenworth from the snow and headed on to deliver a load of mattresses to Summer Beaver.
Lisa Kelly: Still working for the man
Hauling a load for Polar to pay off the repairs Kohaykewych made to her busted truck, Lisa Kelly was headed to the northernmost outpost of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Shamattawa. Like the others, she was traveling roads made rocky by the thaw and refreeze.
She had a 13-mile lake crossing to make, and a “slippery, very, very slippery” steep grade just to get to the ice. Once on it, Kelly crept across the ice, which had only recently become solidly frozen again.
“We’re not in Kansas anymore,” said Kelly as she drove on to resupply the Mounties successfully.
The preview of next week’s episode may well have been Thursday night’s the highlight. It showed Reno Ward, the son of the late ice road legend Darrell Ward, helping Polar make a massive ice road delivery.
Ice Road Truckers airs at 10 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Central Thursdays on the History Channel. Check local listings for when it repeats.