There may be no such thing as an easy trip on the seasonal ice roads that connect some remote First Nation villages with the rest of Canada. That was made abundantly clear in Episode II of Ice Road Truckers Thursday night.
All four of the featured drivers had much more than just ice, snow, and cold to contend with as they drove.
Todd Dewey: Helps a fellow trucker, but at a price
It’s often said by the snarkier among us that “No good deed goes left unpunished.”
Todd Dewey is living proof of that.
On his way to Round Lake with a load of building supplies, Dewey came upon a flatbed stranded in the snow alongside the ice road. The driver told Dewey he had moved over to let two other trucks headed in the opposite direction pass and got stuck.
Ever the Good Samaritan, Dewey decides to “see if we can’t pop it out.” His first couple of tries to extricate the flatbed with a tow strap fail so he puts on chains and after saying “please let this work” hauls the stranded truck back onto the ice road.
“Don’t tell me determination doesn’t work,” says a triumphant Dewey. “It works every time.”
But, in this instance, at a cost.
While performing his good deed, Dewey damaged his tire chains, and he still has about 400 miles to go.
Almost to his destination, Dewey faces a steep downhill grade followed by an even steeper uphill one. And, of course, there’s more: “Black ice on a steep-ass hill. Damn it!”
While he misses on the first run, the second is successful and he arrives in Round Lake to be unloaded by some thankful folks.
Lisa Kelly: Help comes through in the clutch
Viewers were left with a sense of foreboding as Episode I ended last week. Here was the setup: Lisa Kelly was on the longest solo run of her ice road career; she was far north of home; she felt the weight of running her company without her partner, the late Darrell Ward. What could go wrong?
As Episode II opened, we found out.
“Jackknifed my truck for the first time in my entire life,” Kelly said, her truck nose-first into a snowbank in the dead of night on a lonely stretch of the ice road to Tadoule Lake.
Adding insult to injury, she couldn’t open the driver’s side door, the wheels were not turning and she couldn’t get to her toolbox. With little choice, she bunked down for the night.
Luckily, as she was shoveling snow from around her cab, several hunters on their way home were stopped by Kelly’s truck blocking the ice road. Even luckier was the the fact that one guy was a mechanic. He crawled under the cab, diagnosed a clutch problem, made a quick roadside adjustment and told Kelly to “take it easy with that clutch.”
To which Kelly replied, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” before maneuvering the truck out of the snow and heading north, albeit a day behind schedule and only a bit the worse for wear.
Alex Debogorski: Old hand makes his first trip
Ever the philosopher, Alex Debogorski suggests that “The secret to life is liking to work.”
And, after 46 years as a truck driver, you have to figure he likes what he does.
Still, Debogorski understands he’s not the young man he once was, joking he looked in the mirror and saw some guy with a lot of gray hair. “All of a sudden I’m my dad!”
Still, Debogorski drives on. This time it’s a trip to Pauingassi including a 10-mile lake crossing, his first of the season.
On the way, Debogorski comes upon a creek and figures he will see how deep the water is before crossing the small bridge. He finds out the hard way, breaking through the ice and going into the frigid water up to his waist.
“I know how deep the water is,” Debogorksi says, heading back to his truck to change clothes. “You’d think an old guy would know better.”
Arriving at Fishing Lake, Debogorski is skeptical about the safety of the ice, but presses on. He drives with his door open ready to bail if he has to. The ice pops and cracks and at one point there are orange warning flags on a section of the lake, a reminder something went wrong.
Eventually, though, Debogorski traverses Fishing Lake.
“I made it off, thank God,” he says.
Steph Custance: Chaining up with an audience
Still proving herself to Polar Enterprises boss Mark Kohaykewych, rookie driver Steph Custance is sent off to retrieve a broken down flatbed trailer and deliver it to Pickle Lake for repairs.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Nothing is simple on the ice roads as the 23-year-old single mom finds out.
Driving at night, Custance comes upon a steep and icy hill, which she fails to surmount. So, she has to back down the hill to where there are several other trucks waiting for their crack at the hill. A fretful Custance gets some CB advice from one of the other drivers: Time to chain up.
It’s -30 degrees and Custance is — as she was in Episode I — under her truck throwing chains. This time she does it with far less drama and only a little frustration.
So, chained up, and with an audience of drivers watching, Custance takes a second run at the hill and makes it.
She eventually arrives at Pickle Lake, unloads and bobtails it home.
When Episode I ended last week, there was a broad hint that Reno Ward, son of the late ice road driver Darrell Ward, would be showing up. It didn’t happen in Episode II.
Ice Road Truckers airs on the History Channel Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Central.