Early season cement snow
Last weekend we saw a big storm coming. The passes were already closing down. But we have a four wheel drive truck with brand new snow tires and decided to drive up to White before it shut down.
I-5 was terrible in the dark with heavy rain in rush hour. We didn’t know it but having a full size truck means we are above much of the tire spray coming from ahead. That almost makes up for the scariness of driving a bigger truck. The thing is so big I haven’t learned where it’s edges are. Our RAV4 and Tacoma are much smaller and easier to drive. Once we got past Packwood there was no one on White Pass and we motored up toward the top where the last 12 miles was in snow. Our new Hakkapeliitta R3 tires seem very good. Not a single slip, just like their 10 year old studded cousins on the RAV4.
At the summit we turned into the ski area parking lot and were pleased to see 8 other vehicles camped in the snow. They varied between a full Grayhound bus sized RV to a 5th wheel, a popup on a Tacoma and SUV towing a small trailer with a wood stove. We opened the gate on our Canopy, shell, topper…whatever it’s called and crawled in while the snow fell quietly outside.
I lit our Mr. Buddy heater and it quickly got cozy. When I crawled in my sleeping bag, I disconnected the hose from the tank down on the ground. I brought the hose inside but left it connected to our heater. In the morning, I connected the hose to the tank and lit the stove while it was sitting in the canopy, with the upper door open.
I’d assumed the connections were tight as I’d not loosened them the night before. Bad mistake!!! After a minute of normal burning, I got a football size explosion of propane at the stove connection. It burned wildly for a long 15 seconds as I leaped out and shut off the valve at the propane tank. The flare up shut itself off automatically probably due to the little propeller spinners in the fittings.
It turns out, the hose and stove fittings at the propane filter had loosened. I’m wondering if it was because freezing things causes different metals to contract at different rates. For example, to loosen stuck bolts in an engine block, you heat them with a torch.
Anyway, that was a wake up call. Never assume your propane fittings are tight…always check, every time you start it up! We could have burnt down our new rig.
To make matters even worse, we skinned up to the summit and found that the snow was awful. Cascade Cement is a term used to describe snow that is so deep and thick that you literally can’t ski through it. Still, it was a fine adventure, great to get outside and do a little skiing.