Browsing "Yukon"
Aug 20, 2010 -

Driving the Dempster: Prologue

In December 1910, four Mounties set off from Dawson for Fort McPherson, on dog sleds, to patrol and deliver mail. When they hadn’t arrived by February, a rescue party was sent in search of them. A month later, the frozen remains of ‘the lost patrol’ were found and the leader of the search party made it back to Dawson in record time with the news. This man, Inspector Jack Dempster, would be immortalized in a stretch of gravel that nearly parallels the old patrol route, a road that reaches far beyond the Arctic Circle and which links the western arctic to the rest of Canada. What a legacy.

somewhere on the NWT side of the Dempster

Driving this fabled route to the Northwest Territories was a childhood dream inspired by geography classes, movies, books, and tv shows. It was a dream much separated from that of making my way to the Klondike to the point that I sometimes forgot the two were even related. The Yukon isn’t in the Arctic except for a very narrow, inaccessible, sliver. It isn’t the land of barren rock and tundra where many Inuit still live according to the old ways. It doesn’t have the same remoteness factor, what with only one of its communities being of the fly-in variety. The Yukon and Northwest Territories evoked very different romances in me.

It was with trepidation that I set off down the Dempster. I’d done my research, spoken with many who had done it. I knew what the risks were and that my vehicle was inadequate. I left room in my budget for new tires and a replacement wind shield. I stocked up on supplies in case I became stuck in the middle of nowhere due to mechanical issues or bad weather. But I didn’t make a big deal of it, didn’t let the horror stories set a somber mood to my trip. I savoured every kilometre, paid attention to the road, and drove for the conditions.

The result is that even with several bad stretches, I have returned triumphant from the Dempster with nary a problem with the car–no flat tires, no windshield chips, no damage whatsoever. I slowed to a crawl whenever another vehicle passed me, which paid off when a rock hit the windshield and bounced off harmlessly. I drove defensively around pot holes at low speed. I inched my way onto the ferries. The point is made: slow and steady is the way to do the Dempster. If you’re traveling solo, slow even gives you a chance to admire the scenery. Just pull over to the side and let the locals roar past you!

Over the course of the next few days, I will share pictures and stories of the great big adventure of 2010 that took me right to the Arctic Ocean.

Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea.

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Canada, Northwest Territories, Travel, Yukon    4 Comments
Aug 13, 2010 -

Vacation Countdown

It seems that, once again, the weather has turned favourably just days shy of my embarking on another bucket-list journey. Unless something unpredictable happens, I will be en route to Inuvik on Monday, right on schedule.

Driving the Dempster, visiting Inuvik, and taking a charter plane to Tuktoyaktuk to dip my toe in the Arctic Ocean is my last major North America bucket list item. Oh, there’s so much more I’d like to do and see, but nothing so pressing.

I went to the Dempster information centre today to get updated road information and literature, then I schlepped over to the General Store for some food items and the Trading Post for a small propane cylinder. I will be camping and making most of my meals to keep costs low.

It is difficult to put into words what this journey means to me. I tried for so long, the better part of a decade, in fact, to find a job north of the Arctic Circle or some other circumstance that would bring me there. And now I’m going, under my own steam, having found my own northwest passage. Life just doesn’t get any better than this.

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Canada, Northwest Territories, Personal, Travel, Why I Do This, Yukon    6 Comments
Aug 10, 2010 -

The Klondike Valley Nursery & Market Garden

This afternoon, I was finally able to follow the manager, Sarah, to her homestead, known as the Klondike Valley Nursery & Market Garden.

To get there, we had to drive twenty minutes south of Dawson, park, walk two minutes, get in a canoe, paddle across half the Klondike River, walk across an island, get into another canoe, paddle across the other half of the Klondike to a stream, and then paddle up the stream to the house. She does this morning and night!

Sarah’s husband, John, carved his little empire out of the bush and the result is a little piece of Yukon paradise where he grows things one would never imagine could survive up here. He’s a scientist and an artist, creating new stock from grafts in an attempt to create plants that can thrive in the Yukon. Do check out their website for more details about his apple tree and dwarf conifer projects!

It’s quite a spread they have on their 44 acres, only 4 of which have been cleared, with several green houses in addition to an off-grid home. I had a fun time exploring and playing with the four dogs. Oz is much smaller than are his siblings!

In order to get all the work done on the property, they welcome WWOOFers–Willing Workers of (or World Wide Opportunities on) Organic Farms–every summer. I am going to explore WWOOFing as an alternative to camphosting.

I had a wonderful time exploring ‘the farm’ today, after having heard about it for so long!

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Canada, Finances, Nice Folks, Social, Travel, Work, Yukon    4 Comments