Arctic adventure

maddy -- toronto airport

So, we left Detroit Lakes in the middle of the night, drove to Minneapolis, and flew to Toronto. (M and I did. K hung around the airport for a bit and then flew home.) From there to Vancouver (see above), and from there to Whitehorse (see below). By this point, it was night.

whitehorse night view

I think this was around 11 — in any case, late. It’s pretty far north.

In the morning, we flew in a tiny plane to Dawson. What a place! It’s a gold mining town.  (By the way, if you’re ever in the Yukon, fly Air North. They have lovely little planes and they feed you real food. I sat next to a helicopter pilot who told me terrifying stories about bears.) We met M’s friend A at the airport and rode into town. It was the beginning of our adventure.

Anyway, Dawson is lovely.

dawson city

The streets are not paved.

dawson bank

It’s on the banks of the Yukon river, and someone has built a house right in the middle of the river.

house in yukon riverWe spent the morning in Dawson, and then made our way back out to the beginning of the Dempster Highway to camp for the night. But Alex and I both woke up the next morning with the realization that 450 miles up a dirt road in 5 days was too much. It was a huge relief that we both felt the same way. So, I hitch-hiked back into town (got a ride from some gold miners who gave me tips about who to talk to). The bus company, who does ferry people around to various adventures, could not accommodate us at a moment’s notice, but they referred me to a guy named Colum, who normally drops people and canoes off here and there. He was off eating breakfast, but we spoke by phone and came to an arrangement that he would come find us on the highway on Sunday afternoon and drive us a fair bit down the road to where we could get to the end by ourselves. He dropped me off back at the beginning of the highway and we were off!

dempster highway beginningHere’s the traditional opening shot:

dempster bridgeAnd our first night camping on the highway:

dempster night 1

And the entrance to Tombstone Provincial Park (beautiful)




dempster lunch

Second night’s campsite

tombstone campGlorious scenery

dempster high point


Later that day, and just as it started to rain, Colum picked us up in his van.

20869795301_61bb108949_kand took us all the way to the campground right before Ft. McPherson.

We stopped at a spot he knew on the river (was it the Yukon again? Not sure)

dempster river


And again at the Arctic circle.

arctic circle

And here’s a shot of some fog on the tundra.

dempster tundra

Here’s the third campsite all packed up

dempster night 3And day 4. It got wet.

dempster day 4That was our best day, though. Egged on by some motor cyclists, we rode about 75 km. Which is not so far, really, but felt very far in the rain on gravel/mud.

dempster day 4 pondCampsite 4 was in the driveway to this little abandoned house. It was attached to a rope so it could be dragged — probably someone’s hunting camp.

campsite 4

And the view — the ferry crossing by Tsiigehtchic.

view of tsiigehtchicWe took the ferry the next morning, but the day was miserable.

dempster ferryCold, with a headwind, and something like 80 km to the next campsite and no where to camp along the road before that — only bog on either side.

leaving tsiigehtchicSo, we stuck out our thimbs, and got a ride all the way to Inuvik. There was a friendly campsite, with showers, and best of all a restaurant. It was heaven.

warm in InuvikWe made it! Not all officially — I would go back, actually. I would give myself three weeks and do the whole thing by bike, now that I know how to do it. And I am glad we did it unofficially, too.

We hung around Inuvik for a few days. M and I took a boat trip around the delta which was beautiful and informative. And then we flew back.

mckenzie delta




7 thoughts on “Arctic adventure

  1. Wow–that is quite an adventure! See, we knew you’d make it, one way or another 😉 Good for you–reasonably decent weather too, given the possibilities… what fun!

  2. This whole thing is at least 50 varieties of awesome. I think you’re ready for my neighborhood now. In fact, some of that scenery looks wackily like Skye… (LOVE the cheery photo of you!)

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