Thursday, July 21, 2011
July 20 - Mile Post 0 Dempster Highway Yukon Territory to Inuvik, NWT "The Top of the World" and end of the road.
We hit the highway and within the 1st half hour I spotted a Grizzly Bear on the road. It was a small one, probably a two year old or so. At 90 kph my hammering on the brakes and the sound of the gravel scraping under the big Wrangler Kevlars must have scared him. John and Tommy pulled up behind me, we could see the bear moving the the trees along the road. It started coming back out to the road and we were able to get a few pictures before a car pulled up behind us and scared it away again. Back on the road, our next stop was the Tombstone Territorial Visitors Center. We were surprised for such an elaborate and new building in the middle of nowhere running on solar and generators. The staff living in small 14x14 cabins on site. The had some great displays and we got lots of useful information as to why the mountains were called the Tombstone Mountains and where exactly we could see the mountain this area was named for . Fortunately it wasn't far away, just 2kms up the road and there we headed.
The Tombstone Mountain overlook gave a fantastic view of the valley below complete with river with ice and snow. The clear skys made the entire range very visible and we got some great pictures. But our quest is for the Arctic Circle and Inuvik so we needed to hit the road.
Along the way we again passed hundreds of rivers, lakes and streams. One caught my attention, it was called the red river and I knew why. The water actually looked red and all of the white rocks in its path were colored red, obviously from iron deposits up stream somewhere. We finally reached the 1/2 way point at Eagle Plains, Yukon where it was time to fuel up both the Jeeps and ourselves and look for memorabilia of our trip.
Back on the road we reached the Arctic Circle 30 miles later, made a few calls on our Iridium Satellite Phone to pass the word of our latest milestone. And of course, we took lots of pictures! Sixty miles past the Arctic Circle we reached the point where the Yukon Territory ends and the Northwest Territory begins and more pictures of course.. Just about 200 miles now to our final destination, Inuvik.
We had two ferries to take as there are no bridges over the Peel or the MacKenzie Rivers. The ferries are free, you just have to be patient and wait sometimes. The ferry rides were fun but short and we were back on dirt before you knew it.
Finally, 2200 local time (thats 10pm for you tenderfoots) we arrived in Inuvik. This is the week of the world famous Northern Arts Festival which we would make a visit to. We drove around the small town of Inuvik and to the official end of the most northern highway (dirt and gravel road) in Canada. Around 11pm I staked my spot at the Happy Valley Territorial Campsite (government owned and a very nice and modern campground with all the amenities including WiFi) for a good view of the midnight and later sun. John and Tommy were beat and wanted to hit the sack so here I am at 1am local time watching the path of the sun at it circles above the horizon to the north. .
Tomorrow we head back down the Dempster to Mile Post 0 and then decide were to go from there.
Dempster Mile 0