Cummins Repower Rocky Mountain Media Trip: Day Three Blog
Snow and Love in the Air.
The morning came early - each of us immediately looked out the windows to see how much snow had fallen, and we looked to our phones to see how much was still in store. Snow was falling fast and several inches had already accumulated. It was time to log cold starts and the decision was made: we would send one vehicle straight to Denver to ensure our media guests caught their flights and the other two vehicles would attempt Loveland Pass.
Loveland Pass is just under 12,000 feet in elevation and is the alternative route around Eisenhower Tunnel for trucks carrying hazardous materials or oversized loads. For this reason, they try to keep it open as much as possible. On a clear day, the extremely winding roads, steep grade, and breathtaking views make for an interesting enough experience. Add snow and near zero visibility and the drive becomes that much more interesting. There isn’t much room between the road and the edge of the pass in most spots, so the margin for error is very thin.
The Land Cruiser headed west toward Denver and settled in behind a slow but steady formation of expert level snow plows doing their best to clear I-70. About two hours later, we unloaded bags and said farewell to our media guests. It was time to wait for news from Loveland Pass and with any luck the next thing we would focus on would be reforming our caravan and continuing east. Things were very quiet from the team on the pass.
Finally a text came in. The heavy Land Rover and the ’85 Toyota pickup made it to the top without issue and the aftermarket-tuned auto stayed on point rather than getting lost in their gears. In fact, the biggest news about the entire Loveland Pass drive wasn’t on the way up or the way down – it was something that happened at the top. With one knee in the snow, a ring was presented and one of our own answered a very important question! The happy couple now had around 1,300 miles ahead of them to work out the details so it was time to get going!
Once we met back up and congratulations were exchanged, we started what would be a much longer than anticipated drive to Junction City, Kansas. There was a continuous dusting of snow that wouldn’t accumulate but instead would almost hover above the highway. When a vehicle would drive over it, it would churn up and completely whiteout the highway ahead. There weren’t many cars out that day, but the big rigs still had jobs to do and this fresh powder would leave a 200 yard trail of blinding conditions making it impossible to see what was ahead. Our radios came in very handy during all of this, especially in the instance where we were approaching stopped traffic. With speeds ranging from 10-50 mph for the majority of the day, it took much longer to reach Junction City than planned. When we finally did, we were ready for dinner and bed. Temperatures had been steadily dropping our entire drive and we were flirting with single digits and the bitter wind-chill of the Great Plains.