OK, there’s one really good reason why people don’t make the 20-mile drive from Jackson, WY to much cheaper campgrounds in Victor, ID: the Teton Pass.
Rich C went over first, yesterday afternoon. He came down trembling, and called us to warn us. The pass is a monster — easily the worst one we’ve seen yet. 10% grade up and down, with lots of twists. In the winter, it’s basically impassable many times due to heavy snow (it tops out around 8500 feet).
It did turn out to be an interesting test of the Nissan Titan/Armada. Rich C has the Titan, we have the Armada. Both are identical engines, transmissions, and nearly identical towing capacities. But Rich C has an advantage going up: his trailer weighs about 6500 lbs loaded and ours weighs about 8000 lbs loaded. So he got up in second gear, occasionally slowing to 25 MPH. That wasn’t bad because the speed limit was 25 most of the way.
We had more difficulty. The engine got hot about halfway up and we had to climb in 1st gear to keep it under control. Thanks to keeping the engine revolutions high (over 3,000 RPM), the transmission never got hot, but about 2.5 miles from the top, we were forced to pull over and rev the engine in neutral to let it cool. It was 87 degrees when we did this, so we also pulled out some of our other tricks, including turning off the A/C and turning on the heat, full blast. This is the first time in 25,000 miles of towing that we’ve needed to go to such extremes.
Downhill, we had the advantage. Rich C has the factory drum brakes, but we have discs. Even with a much heavier trailer, we have more than double his braking capacity. It was no big deal for us to modulate the speed all the way down the 10% grade. Rich C’s ride wasn’t so pleasant …
Rich C stated what we all felt: “There’s NO WAY I’m going over that pass again with the trailer!” We’ll use a lower pass about an hour south of Victor to get to Colorado, when we go.
The campground and the little town of Victor are nice, in a western style. We’re all loving the dry climate and beautiful weather. Emma and I spent the early evening in the pool diving for sticks, and just relaxing.
However, there’s no Internet in Victor. Sprint doesn’t cover the area. The campground wi-fi, predictably, doesn’t work. So today we all drove over the pass again (without trailers!) to Jackson and I settled in here at the local cybercafe/tattoo shop/jazz cafe to get a day’s work done. We may stay another night or two to get caught up on things, then we’ll head into Colorado for more adventures.
I’m still catching up with blog entries and photos too, so look for more backfilled stuff as I get time.