Dawson to Inuvik
Aug 9, 2018
|We left Dawson after visiting with Mathers and going up on the Dome. It overlooks the city and the surrounding countryside. With great anticipation we approached the Dempster Highway. It was a beautiful day, lots of sunshine with broken clouds. 50 kms in we could see fresh snow on the peaks ahead.
We stopped at the Tombstone Interpretative Center and picked up some more info. We went through their interpretive displays. Later we stopped atop the North Fork Summit at 1289m....the continental divide. In the distance...24 kms away we could see the craggy Tombstone Mountain which the range is named for. It stands tall with sheer medium gray cliffs protruding upward much like a tombstone.
Just past 107 km we followed a pilot car through a construction site. They are replacing culverts. By then it had clouded over and started to rain. We continued through mountains. It continued to rain....heavily.
At approximately 130 km we heard a loud rumbling noise behind us. It sounded like we were dragging a lot of large tin cans. Our first thought was that a bike was dragging. We stopped. Gord put on coveralls and climbed underneath in the muck. A metal strap that was holding the water tank up had broken and was dragging. He removed it and drained the water tank.
A couple, Chuck and Barb from Minnesota, stopped to offer support. They stayed till Gord finished tying up the tank. It stopped raining. Several others also stopped to make sure everything was okay. Most were from the Territories.
We entered a wide valley. We passed 2 outfitter camps complete with horses. We followed the river north winding along its valley.
We saw a truck with trailer upsidedown with all its wheels in the air. We stopped but were assured that help was on the way. The driver was shaken but otherwise okay.
Further along we see streams lined with red rocks running rusty water.
Cliffs were white with grey underneath. Was this chert? The hard rock that was splintered to make knives?
Spikes of grey rock protruded out of mountains much like a triceratops.
We stop to talk to Chuck and Barb at the Ogilvie River crossing. We go on. Soon we climb up onto Ogilvie Ridge. At a lookout we can see the Peel River Valley far below and the Ogilvie Mountains white above green forests in the distance.
A silver fox changing color already ran across the road. We passed a huge burn with blackened trees.
When we found a once used construction camp site we stopped for the night. It had started to rain heavily again. But shortly it stopped and we set up for the night.
The next day we drove along the top of the ridge feeling like we were on top of the world with the Ogilvies far across the Peel Valley and the ridge falling away into forests on the other. Soon we came to Eagle Plains and stopped for repairs.
Eagle Plains is a small hamlet. There is a gas station, repair shop with several bays, a motel with restaurant, and a few other buildings. At the north end is an RV campsite complete with showers.
Gord was allowed to weld the water tank strap into place using the mechanic's tools. The mechanic was backed up with work. I helped by disappearing into the motel reception and knitted.
A South African we had talked to had hitchhiked here as he had a flat tire only to discover he had been rented a car with no spare. He was being helped.
When Chuck and Barb came along we talked till Gord finished and then had lunch...a bowl of soup.
We went on and passed the Arctic Circle. We stopped to read about the area. We went down off the ridge and entered the Richardson Mountains. They were wreathed in fog.
Soon we crossed the NWT border. The fog had dissipated. The road had had a lot of potholes but ceased as we entered the NWT. The road was an airstrip! We continued. Soon we were at the second Peel Crossing. However this time we had to take a cable ferry. The water was high. Rain in the Yukon had raised the levels. The ferry sat idle on the other side. The approaches were under water. We waited.
We found a parking spot amongst the mosquitoes on the bank of the Peel. It was cloudy but not raining. Shortly Chuck and Barb came along and we visited.
In the morning Gord was afraid of mud and not getting back on the road so we went back 5 kms to a gravel pit. He joined otheers at a campfire. With white wool, that was not possible for me. I knitted.
The river went down. The ferry resumed its crossings. We lined up. We slithered onto the 8p ferry. Chuck and Barb had difficulties. Their van put brakes on as soon as the van started to slide. He waited till the approach was more packed.
We drove through Fort Macpherson on the other side. We missed the campsite. The sun came out so we drove across the flat land to the other side. There were pretty little lakes reflecting their surroundings....long grass and evergreens.
At the Mackenzie River we waited for another ferry. We listened to loons mournfully calling. We saw a flock of brown sandhill cranes...birds similar in size and shape to our great blue herons. Here too was the confluence of the Arctic Red River with Tsiigehtchic on the other side.
At 10.50p we had a smooth crossing of the Mackenzie River. We found a spot for the night beside the works yard and crashed.
The next a.m. as I was just finishing washing dishes along came Barb and Chuck. They had been the last vehicle across once the approach was a little more solid. There van had a system that applied brakes as soon as it started to slip. Slipping in the mud was unavoidable.
It started to rain so we headed on to Inuvik 2 - 3 hours away.
Once there we visited the info center, went through there small museum, went to Happy Valley Campsite, registered, got a much-needed carwash and parked the van. After a walk through town and a stop at Alistine's for an Eskimo donut we settled for the night.