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Cabbage Hill, Oregon

I found my thrill on Cabbage Hill

It has taken two years, two trucks, and about ten trips back and forth to Oregon to finally see Cabbage Hill in the daylight. Every time prior to that when we've gone over Cabbage it was dark. I'm wondering if that was preferable.

With a 6% grade and double hairpin turns, Cabbage Hill is one of the most severe passes you'll likely ever drive as a commercial truck driver. This section of I-84 just east of Pendelton, Oregon, also known as Deadman's Pass, loses 2000 feet in elevation in about six miles. Deadman's Pass is an understandable moniker, but why “Cabbage Hill”?

Respect the Hill, Cabbage Hill, Emigrant Hill, Deadman's Pass

Back when the area was owned by Mr. Hudson, a farmer and when sheep roamed the hillside, a sheep herder by the name G.L. Dunn called Mr. Hudson's mountain-top farm “Cabbage Hill” due to the cabbages grown there. The name stuck. The cabbage patch is gone; however, if you talk to any trucker they know exactly where you mean when you say the name Cabbage.

Beautiful. That is an understatement. Breathtakingly beautiful in that way that bad boys are sexy. Danger and beauty all wrapped up in a downhill spiral towards the Columbia Gorge. Rock-laden green mountainside that reminds one of what Ireland must look like. Around each switchback is a view of indescribable beauty. Add to this lush landscape the history of the Oregon Trail and images of Immigrants and settlers spring to mind.

In the past we've traveled over Cabbage in the dark, in the fall, in the winter, but never in daylight. At night the stars are bright against the black skies, brilliant and twinkling with no city or streetlights to dull their shine. Whether you are traveling east or west, climbing Cabbage or descending, a trail of headlights appears to crawl at a snails pace in the distance through each hairpin and switchback. While this alone is a sight to see, it doesn't quite give one the full effect of the one of the deadliest mountain passes on American highways.

Cabbage Hill in the Daylight

Daylight. Sunshine. Sunlight glittering off the payment and shining against the thick green grasses on the hillside. Large rock conglomerates cast severe shadows, giving the terrain a sculpted look. Massive boulders have been cut through for passage, lining the road in steep rocky walls, making many of the sharp, turns even more dangerous by restricting depth of field for the road ahead. 6% grades through each curve cause the turbos to howl with power as you climb, and the Jakes to roar in revelry as you descend. And the view? Between the danger and the beauty you don't even realize you're holding your breath as you take it all in. The wind, the road, the whine, the curves, the slope, the drop, the green, the rocks, the history... It all rushes at you creating what can only be described as overwhelming wonder.

It may have taken two years to experience this historical hilly pass, but it was a day worth waiting for. Knowing the history and seeing the facts with my own eyes give me not only an appreciation for mother nature, but an ever increasing respect for the skill of the American Truck Driver.

~ sierra sugar