Cabbage And The Grapevine. Are They Monsters Or Horrors?

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Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
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For those of you that don't know, these are two nicknames of sections of roads. Both happen to be in the west. I have heard horror stories about them both. And told to fear them.

One is in California, (The Grapevine), and the other in Oregon.

I have been across both. The Grapevine I crossed while I was in training. And didn't even know it till I was on the other side. My trainer asked me what I felt about The Grapevine. I asked them where that was. He said, you just crossed it. I said, it was a hill. Like all other hills. Just a bit longer is all.

While you should respect them and be totally aware of them, I don't think fear is needed.

I have been across The Great Wolf Pass at 10,865 feet. I have been thru the Eisenhower Tunnels at 11,000 feet. And other mountains not so tall.

While all of the above mentions sections of roads or places should be respected, there are other sections of roads (In my opinion) in this country that are much more dangerous. And to be aware of.

While a driver should keep roads and places like The Grapevine, Cabbage, Eisenhower Tunnel (I-70 West of Denver, CO) and The Great Wolf Pass in his mind and be aware of them. There are other roads that will bite you a lot faster if you are not paying attention.

The 4 that I mentions, while very tall (except for Cabbage), they don't have a real steep climb or downgrade. The trick with Cabbage is it's curves. LOTS of them.

Great Wolf Pass has a 6-8% grade. I-70 that climbs to the Eisenhower Tunnels is 6% at the most. Some places much less. And the Grapevine is 7% at the worst.

Like I said, what makes these sections so rough is how long they are. But steep and short roads will bite you just as bad and much faster.

I traveled a section of road today that everyone needs to be aware of and concerned with.

I-5 in California. From just south of Mt Shasta area to well into Oregon.

It is almost constant up and down, up and down. The least grade I hit was 6%. And it went as high as 12% grade. Now if you think that is not steep. Try climbing it with 43,000 lbs.

I was down in 6th gear a lot.

No, the grades are not as long. But many of the down grades had a sharp curve at the bottom. Most were 1-2 miles in length. Some upwards of 4 miles. Not like the 12 mile downgrade on The Grapevine. But just as dangerous if not more so.

I think the highest altitude I hit on that road was 4,012 feet. Far below the 11,000 feet of I-70. But no less dangerous.

I think I have found a road that will give the up and down hills in the east a run for their money. rofl-3.gif

No matter the hill. Where it is at. If it has a nickname or not. Always. Always, keep your head about you and use your engine brake and downshift.

Don't worry about other trucks if they are passing you.

There is an old trucker's saying. It has been posted here several times.

"You can go down a hill too slow as many times as you want. You will only go down too fast, once. "

What roads have you been on that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up? smile.gif

Keep it safe out here, the life you save might be your own.

The Blue Angel.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
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When you (didn't know you) rolled over the Grapevine, were you going north or south bound? The steep side is on the north/ Bakersfield side. NB is steep enough you have two escape ramps in about 4 miles. SB for the same part is just a long low gear grind up the hill.

Fatsquatch 's Comment
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The hill running from Hornbrook, CA into Ashland, OR is Siskiyou Pass, and yes, it is a beast to come down northbound. Southbound isn't nearly as bad, because there's only 1 or 2 hairy curves.

And don't think you're done with steep bendy descents going up I-5 in OR once you're off Siskiyou. You got about another 180 miles of hills, curves, and hills with curves to go. The road doesn't flatten and straighten out for any appreciable stretch until you get north of Eugene, about mm 195 or so.

Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
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Actually, I traveled both directions.

Had a drop in LA. Went north for a pickup which ended up cancelled when we arrived. Came back to the Flying J and had to do a 34 while waiting on another load.

Both trips across were empty, and while that changes how you cross a mountain, it doesn't change the mountain.

I have crossed many mountains that had at least 2 runaway ramps on them on one side or both.

Can't remember where it was, but I traveled one a while back that had three runaway ramps on the side I went down. And it was very curvy. Curvy and steep. Probably why it had three ramps.

Keep it safe out here, the life you save might be your own.

The Blue Angel.

Lawrence H.'s Comment
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I don't know what grapevine you went up or down. But its 47 miles across. 5 miles on both ends, up and down in between but no hill longer than 5 miles at 6 percent grade. That means it rises 6 feet every 100 feet traveled. So first gear in highside of trans iswhere you will pull loaded. From 400 hp and up every 50 hp more you will pull another gear higher. So cat five fifty pull hill in 8 the gear with 10 speed. Detroit 450 pull in 7 the gear fully loaded.

6 string rhythm's Comment
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I always enjoy reading about grades and mountain driving. Interestingly enough, there's not much info out there on how to ascend and descend a grade in inclement weather when you cannot rely on your engine brake. That's another topic.

The East Coast has some grades worth mentioning. Some might not think that anything east of the Rockies is worth mentioning, that couldn't be further from the truth. Going through the Appalachians is no joke.

How about Maryland? YES! Maryland. It's not just sandy beaches. In northern Maryland, I-68 westbound has a 6% grade for 13 miles - how's that for rivaling a West Coast grade? At the end of that stretch is the town of Cumberland, Maryland, which has the perennial smell of smoked brakes. The other week I was behind a truck that underestimated the descent and started smoking his brakes only a few miles into the hill. He had to pull over onto the shoulder.

West Virginia has plenty of grades with mandatory truck stops for checking brakes. PA has plenty of state routes and interstates that have dangerous grades. US 30 running parallel with the Penna Turnpike is just one example of a road with steep grades to the likes of 9% and 11%. New England and upstate NY has their share of grades.

But like I mentioned, grades taken with an engine brake makes for 'easy' driving. How about on slick roads when you're not supposed to use an engine brake? That's when a driver really needs to understand how to gear down and use snub braking. Honestly, I'm still trying to get the feel for taking on hills without an engine brake. I practice whenever I can, with different weights. Using the engine brake is easy. Taking on hills without an engine brake is something every driver should know how to do, just for those circumstances when using an engine brake can actually be detrimental.


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Joe S. (a.k.a. The Blue 's Comment
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I stand corrected about the length of the Grapevine. I was going by what my trainer had said after we came back across it back into LA.

The one I am talking about starts near Bakersfield, CA.

Nice country and beautiful views.

And as far as I 68. I have travel that road so many times I almost know it by heart.

I know the hill you are talking about. It has the scale house on the EB side. It is a little tricky. But I have smelled more rubber burning on Sidling Hill than anywhere else.

Great point to put out there about learning without the engine brake. But all in all, all winter driving is different than summer driving. Not just going down hills.

Keep it safe out hear, the life you save might be your own.

The Blue Angel.

Matt M.'s Comment
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Fancy Gap (I-77 Va/Nc border) is severely underrated. The grade isn't as bad as the others, but every time I'm on it people are going way too fast. Seen a number of smoking brakes getting off at that Loves.

William C.'s Comment
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Sandstone in W.V. is underated

Logan M.'s Comment
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The us road (can't remember name) in w.v in between Pittsburgh and wintersville oh has an 8% thats not marked until after you begin going down, a lot of us roads in PA stand out in my mind with some switchback like curves, for me it's all about how well they're marked more so than how steep, donners for example unless it's winter time isn't nearly as bad as many people say I'd rather run it than syskiou honestly, I don't like the curves and having to stop at the bottom coming into cali on the 5.

Also how about Spokane wa for having a big hill in the middle of town which may not be that steep but handling the truck going down during rush hour traffic isn't an easy task.

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