Big Henry and the Ha Ha

Back in the early 90’s, I got a deal on a 1988 Ford LTL 9000 and I called it Big Henry. Now it wasn’t a pretty truck, but it was tough and I wanted a tough truck because I was low bedding in the bush so that’s what I was looking for.

We were hauling bridge building material for a bridge contractor and on one cold January day, myself and another driver got dispatched to haul couple of loads, way back into the bush. To get to the job site we had to go north up to Mackenzie junction and then follow the Finley Forest road, about 270 kilometers to the Omonica camp, from there we took the Osolinca road another 46 kilometers to the Osolinca camp. There we would wait over night and go in with the crew first thing the next morning to a place on Ha Ha Mountain, where they were building three bridges.

Karl Blocker and my self loaded up that morning and headed for the bush, Karl had a highboy and I had a step-deck

When we left Prince George it was hovering around –30 and they were calling for a temperature drop. All the way up we were running in a light snow that got heaver the farther north we went and when we got to the Osolinca camp around, dinner time that evening, it was –40 and still dropping, the Loggers had all shut down and gone home. You can’t log at that temperature.

When we got to camp site we found a nice flat spot were we could park, not wanting to dynamite the brakes with all the snow in them we just rocked our trucks back and forth in the snow and parked. Then we went in and had dinner. They offered us a couple of bunks for the night, but we decided to stay with the trucks in case some thing happened during the night, we wouldn’t be surprise in the morning with frozen trucks.

The next morning when I got up, I noticed my truck was losing air, so I suited up in my winter rigging and went out to find the problem. It turned out to be a valve on the trailer that had plastic lines and with the snow packed in under it, I couldn’t get at the valve and by this time it was hovering around –50. I tried to dig out the snow and still couldn’t get at the valve; I didn’t want to use a tiger torch and melt it out because of the plastic lines and by this time my fingers were almost useless.

I had told Karl to go a head, while I released the maxi breaks on the trailer. I could run in with out brakes on the trailer, because it was up hill from here and going out I knew the road and would be empty, I would just leave the chains on until I got to the highway.

By the time I got up to the job site Karl was just about unloaded and I might say ‘frozen’, so when he finished I told him to take off. By the time I got unloaded I was in the same state, especially my hands.

As I was headed out in the warm cab, my fingers started to burn. I got to the highway and took off my chains and just threw them on the deck of the trailer, I wasn’t going to try and hang them on the rack with my hand burning the way they were.

When I got back to the yard around 2 a.m., I just pulled the truck up to a plug in and plugged it in trailer and all, then went home to a very painful nights sleep.

The next morning I went to the Doctor and he told me, I had frozen my fingers and that I would loose the tips of them. That evening my youngest Grand Daughter phoned me and said, “Grandpa, I heard you froze the tips of your fingers,” very concerned, “and that the ends are going to fall off. If they do, can I have them for show and tell at school?”

Later I though, isn’t she a little old for show and tell, I think she has her Grandpa’s sense of humour. You just have to love those Grand Children.