We all remember as little children, whether as girls or boys, likely there was playtime with trucks - lots of trucks and different types of trucks. However, once we reached adulthood, many of us stopped giving them another thought - other than to yell and swear at them on the road because they’re going too slow or too fast or just plain irritating us.
However, there is one group of truckers, in particular, whom we barely ever think of, a special breed of trucker – the ice road warrior! They are in a class by themselves. It is very heavily male dominated although about 5% are women who are joining their ranks more since the success of the reality TV show The Ice Road Truckers (which apparently showcased young, attractive, and very capable female truckers).
Anyway, ice road trucking is one of the riskiest and toughest trucking jobs and certainly not for the faint of heart. It is for the adventurer, the thrill seeker, and the loner, perhaps. But, hey, the money is amazing (if you survive the trip)! The reason we don’t see them anywhere is because they drive so far up in the Canadian north that they are driving on frozen roads, frozen waterways. If you live in the GTA, well, they’re nowhere to be spotted here. This is a rare group, a community of drivers, if you will, that hauls goods and supplies to the northern miners and various communities between Yellowknife, the North West Territories, and the mines.
Up that far north, the terrain is rugged and barren and what you see is frozen tundra and lakes and more tundra and more ice. Up there, there is no Enroute truck stop, no one to chat with over a hot cup of java. No siree, Bob! While this landscape is dramatically beautiful, it is solitary and very dangerous. As well, every trucker needs to be all driver and all mechanic in order to be able to repair his/her truck because there are no repair pit stops along the way, just kilometer after kilometer of snow and ice! Sounds enticing so far, yeah?
So why do it? Simply put, the money is scandalously great. You can make a year’s salary (a good one) in just two months. Mind you, the roads are only drivable for about 2 months a year anyway. Where do you sign up? Not so fast. Remember, this is no ordinary job. This is a lifestyle and not a Kardashian one either! Generally, not too many family men/women up here unless they’re running away! This is for the solitary, for the person who likes making all his own decisions because here the driver has to decide where to sleep, when to sleep and how hard he wants to push himself. Here, there are no authorities to patrol and look out for you. You’d better like yourself a lot and be a great conversationalist (no arguing with yourself) because you could start hearing voices that don’t exist.
Although the scenery can be breathtaking, likely nothing you would have ever seen before, the severe weather can absolutely kill you. There are numerous road hazards like avalanches coming out of nowhere, thin ice that you might not see until it’s too late, and, of course, there can be truck failure. Oh…wild animals maybe. And the darkness feels so haunting and all enveloping …and not to be too depressing about all this but what if you have a medical emergency. Yikes! But the landscape is all Canadian: rugged, majestic, and mesmerizing.
And yet, there are truckers who wouldn’t want any other job. It gives them total independence (our opinion, maybe too much), great opportunities for self-reflection and personal growth (seriously, what else is there to do in places like this but meditate on your navel?), great money so you can save and buy that house in Toronto (ok, maybe not Toronto but Barrie for sure), and a way to elude the cops (ok - that’s a joke!). Needless to say, this job takes courage and guts. So, let’s all show some real respect for this driver and, hey, if you ever come across an ice road warrior - give them a hug …oh, they probably aren’t into hugs …or people.