Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Travel Tales: Fancy Gap Mountain

Years ago when I lived in Florida, I had to drive to Ohio to attend my Grandmother's funeral. Since I had to leave in a hurry, I did not bother to check any national weather report.  I began my trip in the warm weather of Florida and was listening to my own music and not the radio as I drove north. The rain began in South Carolina and I was not having any problems driving in it. When I was north of Charlotte on Interstate 77, I stopped at a rest area.

When I went inside the building, I noticed a group of truckers talking. I heard one of them say that the situation was too dangerous. I decided to ask them what was happening. They informed me that I-77 on Fancy Gap Mountain was being closed because there was an ice storm. I was not familiar with the area so I did not know where to stay. They told me where they were going and that is where I went.

When the interstate on the mountain opened the next morning, the truckers insisted I drive in formation with them. They told me how dangerous Fancy Gap Mountain could be and they were afraid some patches of ice could still be on the road. I had to drive in the left lane with a truck in front of me and one behind me. To my right were three trucks in that lane. If my little VW convertible slid, I would hit a truck and not slide off the side of the mountain.

The view on the drive up or down Fancy Gap Mountain is beautiful. On a clear day I really enjoy the experience. However, Interstate 77 on Fancy Gap can be a very dangerous place to travel. My most stressful moments of driving on I-77 have been on this section. When the rain is heavy or snow is falling, the drive can be difficult, but a fog bank or low clouds can make the trip dangerous. A national weather forecast may not inform those traveling through the area of the possibility of low clouds on the mountain. On March 31, 2013, three people were killed in a 95-vehicle pileup on this stretch of road. The link to a Huffington Post article describing this deadly incident is provided below this post. Travelers should be careful and vigilant while driving on this mountain.

(Photos taken in 2013)

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