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Surprise slides from roadways can happen easily on icy roads. Above, on Cuddy Valley Road Friday, Jan. 11, a photo taken by Nicole de Leeuw of Cuddy Valley.
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On Saturday, Jan. 12 Chuck Noble of Lebec took this photo on the road to the top of Mount Pinos. The adults and children in the truck were not injured. Many frustrated motorists were seen stuck on East End Drive in Frazier Park and on Woodland in Pine Mountain.
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Some businesses were ready with merchandise for snow play visitors. Muffins and cookies were for sale at the Frazier Mountain Park entrance. Families had a great time playing in the snow, but drivers were challenged.
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Clockwise from top left: Some businesses were ready with merchandise for snow play visitors. Muffins and cookies were for sale at the Frazier Mountain Park entrance. Families had a great time playing in the snow, but drivers were challenged.
By Gary Meyer
Last week’s snow brought sliding cars, sliding children and a sliding scale of smart to not-so-smart. It also brought business to those merchants who were prepared and who were positioned to benefit.
On Saturday morning, January 12, Frazier Mountain Park was full of snow play. Monterey Trail was buzzing with customers buying sleds, saucers, scarves, hats, gloves and mittens.
One local family set up a stand at the entrance to the park to sell goodies like muffins and cookies to the snow bunnies.
But all was not cheerful on the local front.
Calls have come into the newspaper office in the past week about the condition of East End Drive. Residents have asked whether Kern County is supposed to plow that road.
We made a run over to find that on one Saturday the road had been plowed and cinders put down. The next Saturday it appeared the road was plowed and cinders spread out, but by this time the temperature was in the twenties throughout the day and plows do not remove ice.
On the question of which roads get plowed, Kern County Roads Department’s Todd Wood said Frazier Mountain Park Road, Mt. Pinos Way, Los Padres Drive, East End Drive, Park Drive, Cuddy Valley Road, Mil Potrero Highway and "a couple of others" are Kern County-maintained roads. He said that parking cars along narrower roads like Park Drive makes it very difficult to plow the road. He said sometimes they cannot get the county’s plows up East End Drive.
CHP officers at the Fort Tejon office have reminded us many times that properly equipped vehicles are necessary to drive these roads when snow and ice conditions exist.
The definition of "properly equipped" can vary in some people’s opinions. New technologies have produced improved rubber compounds and new tread types on tires that can work better than studded tires when used with four-wheel or all-wheel drive.
But CHP officers on duty don’t always let you pass even when your own experience tells you that your vehicle is properly equipped.
We asked CHP Public Information Officer Adriaan Garcia for the definition of a "properly equipped" vehicle which would be allowed to pass a roadblock.
"It depends on the weather and road conditions," Garcia said. "If it’s snow, we can often let you pass with chains or fourwheel- drive with snow tires. If it’s icy, we’ll require chains on all vehicles," he said. Garcia added that studded tires don’t substitute for chains on the ice.
We asked for the definition of "snow tire" and Garcia provided a California Department of Transportation definition which reads: "A ‘snow-tread tire’…has a relatively deep and aggressive tread pattern compared with [the] conventional passenger tread pattern." Snow tires have the letters M and S or the words mud and snow stamped on the sidewall.
Garcia added that the officers try to be lenient with area residents when they can safely do so.
On Saturday, Jan. 12 the post office parking lot was jammed full of visitors’ cars while local residents looked for places to stop for a moment to run in to pick up their mail.
Some of the cars in the lot, according to Postmaster Kathy Gilbert, belong to residents who cannot drive up East End Drive.
"If they leave them there too long, we have to call the sheriff [to tow them] because postal customers can’t find a place to park," she said.
So, snow season is here. Drive safely and remember: the next time you drive over the rise approaching snow bunny hill in Cuddy Valley, they could be barbecuing hotdogs right in the middle of the highway.
Seriously, be aware and prepared for the not-so-smart ones.
This is part of the January 18, 2013 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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