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  • Francs Peak Hike

What direction are you going?

I love thoughts and collecting them. To me they are filled with wonderful words of wisdom. You’ll find that I’ll be posting some of my favorite thoughts. Those thoughts will be connected to a photograph or layout. To me it’s a form of art that I enjoy.

Here is a thought posted on what I felt to be an appropriate photograph. Enjoy.

IMG_8199_08272005__CC_12x12v1_500

10% Grade Scare…

Anyone who is familiar with driving in mountains know that a 10% grade is pretty steep. One has to be prepared to drive carefully in lower gears or risk burning out the brakes, etc. In fact, most local people know to have things checked over really well before attempting to go up or down these grades.

We were headed back from our family campout on the Big Horn Mountains coming off the top down into Lovell, WY. That grade is pretty steep and full of switchbacks (curves). It has at least 3-4 truck run-a-way ramps along the way. Before going down, signs warn everyone of the steep grades.

So here we are, our suburban has gear loaded on top, in the back, and items on a hitch cargo carrier. I’m driving down (husband wanted to read), as I have many times before.

Only one BIG problem. I was in 2nd gear and it didn’t seem to work…with the engine slowing me down. So I slowed down and shifted into 1st gear. Again the motor was not holding me back as it should have so I was using my brakes a lot.

This is not good to use those breaks a lot because it overheats those brake pads and they almost become fluid. I knew it wasn’t good so I was trying to take it easy on the breaks but then you can’t go around sharp curves at a high rate of speed.

Here I was doing almost 45-50 mph easy in 1st gear. So I finally got to a spot that had a pullout and stopped. I had to really apply those brakes before they really worked. As soon as I stopped, smoke billowed out of my front tires. Another BAD sign!

So we waited for over 2 hours for those brakes to cool down. They were too hot to even put your hand next to the wheel. As we waited, we tried to think of what our plan of action would be.

The first one was to wait for the brakes to cool down. Obviously our transmission wasn’t shifting properly to the lower gears (of which we were unaware of till then-bad time to find out too). We knew we had already strained our brakes coming that far down the mountain. We were half way down and still had more to go.

My husband thought that we should try the 4 wheel drive Low gear and that it might work to hold the engine back as we finished descending, without using the breaks much. Only problem: we weren’t sure if it worked properly either.

We said a family prayer. Then proceeded to try and shift it into 4 wheel low gear. With difficulty we finally got it. (Of course, that didn’t help my confidence in the vechicle). He had me drive, because of my driving background.

I was shaking as I gripped the steering wheel. Put my emergency flashers on. Made sure that everyone was fastened into their seatbelts and began down the steep grade.

We hit about 35 miles per hour and we got jolted a bit. The engine slowed us down. My husband didn’t realize that and started to freak me out with his comments. So we got around the steep curve and their was another pullout. I pulled over. I explained that I didn’t push on the gas or brake. We got out and felt the tire. They were ok.

So we decided to attempt the descent again. It worked! The engine was slowing the vehicle down, so we didn’t have to use the brakes at all.

Once we got down out of the steeper grades we tried switching the 4 wheel low gear back to the normal 2 wheel drive. After much difficulty we were able to get it back.

We got home safely, but realizing that we will need to get a new transmission. At least we got down off the mountain safely. I’ve been over mountain passes many a times and I don’t think I have felt as nervous as I did this time. It sure helps to have a vehicle that is working properly at such critical times. Thank goodness we decided to leave the camper home on this trip!! Thank goodness we didn’t have my 16 year old driving. Both could have been NOT GOOD!

The Road

The Road

Above Picture:  Here is the road from the pullout that we stopped at to let the breaks cool down.  This is looking down to the next bend in the road that we still had to go down.

View Down

View Down

Above Picture:  This is taken from the pullout that we were parked at for two hours waiting for the breaks to cool off.  This is looking down over the edge to the roadway below that we’ll be traveling.

The Big View

The Big View

Above Picture:  This is the view from the same pullout that we waited at for the breaks to cool down.  This is looking out over the basin towards Yellowstone Park area way in the distance.

Fenced View

Fenced View

Above Picture:  Some of the pullouts have this tall chain link fence up and around the edge to prevent people from falling over the cliff while looking at the view.  This is looking somewhat northwest.

My daughter spent some of her waiting time taking pictures as my husband and I figured out a plan. Believe it or not I was too occupied in this situation to even think about photographing the area.