Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dempster Highway & Inuvik

Start of the Dempster Hwy

Walter on our tail

Arctic Circle in Canada

Welcome to Inuvik

Goodbye NWT. Hello Yukon

Fields of flowers

Farewells at Klondike Corner

The ride to Inuvik is a 4 day affair involving two overnight stops in Eagle Plains. It is a 1440km gravel road ride. By luck I picked up a travelers guide to the road which was excellent and made the whole event quite special. I also got to tag along with 3 Americans who were not scared of gravel roads and that added to the enjoyment. They in turn had picked up a trucker hauling 137,000 lbs of calcium chloride up to Ft McPherson. He is something of an amateur photographer and they caught him taking pictures of his truck - as you do. He is also an ice road trucker and promises to add some appropriate photos to his web site.
This road is quite unlike the Dalton where there are trees then tundra. Here it's tree, tundra then trees again. Much of the area shows the scars of ice age glaciation with U shaped valleys while further north it was to cold for glaciers and the area was covered in a layer of ice. The landscape is spectacular and visually more stunning than the Dalton. By now it is mid Jun and the warm weather produced fields of white flowers that at a distance looked like a covering of snow. Unfortunately there was little wildlife to be seen.
Mossies are real bad and drove us indoors at Eagle Plain.
There is a sign advising that you have arrived at the arctic circle and here most vehicles turn back to civilisation. Later there is a sign saying you have crossed into North West Territories. The ride is hot and dusty - in fact probably the first time I have felt warm on the whole journey.
Inuvik is the end of the Dempster hwy but as Walter, our trucker mate, will tell you, you can drive on the ice road in winter to the ocean. For us this is the end of the road. Strangely it is very hot - I would think maybe 30 degree C and we are 200 miles north of the arctic circle. We retreated to an air conditioned room and had beer and steak for dinner to celebrate.
The ride back to the Klondike junction (the other end of the Dempster) is just as enjoyable as the ride up. My bike turned over 20,000 km right on the farewell sign of the NWT.
I bad farewell to my riding companions, Frank, Dale and Mike and Walter the trucker who had caught us up once more. They were heading south to Whitehorse and I was going north back to Dawson to fit a new front sprocket. Oh and I met the Californian BMW pair for the 6th and final time.