DANGEROUS ROADS (Chapter 2 of 4)

Thunder Bay harbour, April 18th . . .

Thunder Bay harbour, April 18th . . .

Actually, in Nipigon, I pulled over for a nap.  Had four hours sleep the night before.

Highway 17 skirts the north shore of Lake Superior, and in winter it is the most dangerous road in Ontario.  Hwy. 17 is designated the TransCanada Highway, linking Eastern Canada to Western Canada.  It has long steep hills, a multiplicity of suicide curves (most of them unsigned), and exposure to storms that roar across the Great Lake.

A storm was due from Colorado, across this Great Lake.  Temperature hovered around zero.  So, black ice* was an additional hazard.  Only damn fools travelled in this weather.

And I met a few of them.  Darkness was falling.  And so was the damn snow.

I was surprised.  Surprised there were transports on the road.  Most drivers know that in wintertime, Highway 11 is the safest way to get from Toronto to Winnipeg.  I guess there are a few drivers who don’t get the message.  Which explains the broken guard posts that separate the highway from oblivion.

That’s another thing about the North Shore route.  It has the most spectacular scenery in Ontario, bar none. 

But.

You want to drive it in sunshine.

Last Thursday as I drove the route, the clouds obscured the hilltops and the snow obscured my windshield.  Still, I had glimpses of breathtakingly rugged terrain.  It compensated for the spasms of heart-stopping terror on the suicide curves.

North Shore driving, in winter, at night . . . [Image submitted]

North Shore driving, in winter, at night . . . [Image submitted]

And I was so thankful.  So utterly thankful that I did not meet a transport coming down a long hill at me . . . sideways.

I didn’t encounter snow-covered highway till Marathon.  And when I turned north to Manitouwadge, I was plowing through patches of accumulated snow and slush.

It was still snowing.

I was especially vigilant on the dogleg curves and the blind hills**. 

You never know when you’ll meet another damn fool.

Did I mention it was still snowing?

(*Black ice is clear ice on black pavement.  A driver cannot see it.

**On a blind hill, visibility is limited to a few metres beyond the hood as you approach the summit.  And some damn fools straddle the centre line.)

Manitouwadge in summer, in sunshine . . . [Image submitted]

Manitouwadge in summer, in sunshine . . . [Image submitted]

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
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