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Should I have driven this thing up here?



blog-0051029001382056179.jpgBefore our fall foliage trip, Grandma had heard from friends about a road to scenic lookout near Rangeley. She had heard it was a gravel road, but in good condition, and that the view was spectacular. She said it was "Quinn Road on Route 17." Well, Grandma is a bit dyslexic sometimes. It turned out to be Quill Hill and it was on Route 16, between Rangeley and Stratton.

When we found the sign, the gravel road off Route 16 looked a little steep, but was well graded. I decided to try it. It turns out that some of the landowners and contractors in the area improved a route along previously existing logging roads, to create access to the top of Quill Hill, which some might call a small mountain. The story is that there was no government money involved. There was no toll, either. How about that? If Obama visited, he would probably tell them "You didn't build that."

As we went along, there were signs saying "12 minutes to the top," 9 minutes to the top," etc. The middle part of the route wasn't too steep. When we got to the steeper part, we had already gone most of the way. At that point, I was reluctant to turn around.

The road was just wide enough in most places to meet opposing traffic, if both drivers were careful. On the last of it, you had to pick your spot to pull over as far as you could when meeting someone. Near the top, there was an area where the road split into two one-way paths. At the very top, there was a one-way loop around, and plenty of parking. This was a near-perfect day and lots of folks were going up there. However, we were the only crazies doing it in a Class A Motorhome! The Southwind, with its Chevy 454 engine, made the climb OK, but the climb is not the only problem. Once you get up this hill, you've got to descend it!

The view was all we expected and more! See the photos. You could see miles and miles in all directions.

When we started down, I kept it in low gear and still had to use the brakes. A little farther down the hill, I could go in 2nd without using the brakes all the time. In the middle, more gentle, area, I got it up into 3rd. When we went down the last pitch to Route 16, it was back to 1st gear with brakes again. As I turned on to Route 16, I smelled my hot brakes!

Fortunately the route from there to Stratton was gentle. I drove that stretch without touching the brakes, keeping my speed low and downshifting when coming into curves. I stopped at a rest area just north of Stratton, got out an sniffed the brakes. They were no longer hot.

Should I have driven the motorhome up that little mountain? The answer is NO. I shouldn't have. I got away with it, with no harm done, but I wouldn't try it again. This experience helped me to understand and respect the limits of my motor coach. From now on, I'll be looking for other transportation when I want to do any motorized mountain climbing.

We don't yet tow a car with our motorhome, but it would have been handy to leave the coach at the foot of the hill and go up with the "towed" vehicle.

How about you? Have you driven your coach any places you shouldn't have?


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To answer your question, we drove our Rialta (Winnebago Class B no longer built) over the Needles Highway in the South Dakota Black Hills. At the top of the highway is a tunnel, a very, very narrow, single lane, low clearance tunnel. We made it through going very slow, and I did not fold in the side-view mirrors. The funny thing is that I did not recall a warning at the bottom of that highway warning about the clearance.

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Yes - Black Rock Mountain in Georgia during Thanksgiving. The problem was that the weather at that time if year is unpredictible. It can be in the 80's one day and below freezing the next. The day before departing, one stretch of the road was iced over. I got down but I'll never do that again.

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Thanks, Jurisinceptor, for adding your experience. I got into a scary iced mountain situation once in Colorado, but that was in a rental car, not a motorhome.

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