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Old 09-10-2014   #16 (permalink)
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August 21: Eagle Plains, YT to Inuvik, NT (Part II)

After crossing the Richardson Mountains, the highway heads towards the lowlands of the Mackenzie River. First, the road reaches the Peel River, which is crossed by means of a free ferry operated by the Territorial Government. Shortly after the ferry is the small community of Fort McPherson:

First, the Peel river and Mackenzie lowlands from the north slope of the Richardsons:




Fort McPherson is the gravesite of the Lost Patrol. In 1911, a group of Northwest Mounted Police began their annual winter dogsled patrol between Fort McPherson and Dawson City (today's highway actually follows the old trail for much of its route). The patrol had been run for a number of years before without incident, however in 1911, the police broke with their former practice of hiring a native guide and instead hired a local prospector who claimed to know the route. Also, instead of beginning in Dawson City and travelling north to Fort McPherson, they decided to patrol the route in reverse.

To cut a long story short, they got lost, ran out of food, and starved or froze to death. Tragically, they had turned back and were less than 20 miles from Fort McPherson when their frozen corpses were found by the rescue party. That rescue party was led by Corporal Jack Dempster, after whom the highway was named:






After stopping for gas in Fort McPherson, we continued north to the second of the two river ferries on the Dempster. This one crosses the Mackenzie river just a few miles upstream from the point where it fans out into the countless channels of the Mackenzie Delta. It also crosses the Mackenzie at the mouth of the Arctic Red River. The native community of Tsiigehtchic (formerly also known as Arctic Red River) sits on the point of land above the confluence, with the ferry making a side trip on request.










About 10 km outside of Inuvik, we finally hit pavement again. After driving 725 km of bone-rattling gravel, there is no way to describe how nice that feels....

Late that afternoon, we finally reached our destination. We had arrived at the end of the road, over 300 highway km north of the Arctic Circle. We were in Inuvik:




Up next: Inuvik.
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until our 9th visit to the Royal and 10th stay in Playa!

The Royal: May 2006, Apr 2007, Jan 2008, Feb 2009, May 2011, Feb 2012, Mar 2013, Nov 2014 & Nov 2017
Gran Porto Real: Feb 2010
Playa Grande, Cabo San Lucas: Nov 2009 & Oct 2011
Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan: Dec 2010
Marival Resort, Nuevo Vallarta: Nov 2012
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Old 09-13-2014   #17 (permalink)
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August 22: Inuvik, NT

Inuvik is sited along the flat lowlands of the Mackenzie Delta. The Mackenzie is North America's second largest river (after the Mississippi) and its delta is over 100 km wide and more than 70% water; a labyrinth of ponds, channels, sloughs and lakes. Inuvik itself is on the higher ground at the east end of the delta.

Since the Mackenzie flows from south to north, it brings with it warmer water which raises the surrounding air temperature just enough to allow for the growth of trees. We therefore left the treeless tundra behind as we entered the lowlands.

We spent two nights in Inuvik and therefore spent the full day exploring the town:


The "Igloo Church" is probably the most photographed landmark north of the Arctic Circle:


Since the town is largely built on permafrost, all utilities are above ground:


The Mackenzie River barge network begins at the end of rail in Hay River, NT and ends at the Arctic Ocean, 100 km downstream from Inuvik:






Inuvik's skyline:




These shots of the Mackenzie Delta were taken from a viewing tower just outside of town:






Evening begins to set in quite late:


Up next: Arctic Sunset
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Old 09-13-2014   #18 (permalink)
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I looked up your location on a map the other day. I didn't fully comprehend where exactly you were.
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Old 09-13-2014   #19 (permalink)
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I looked up your location on a map the other day. I didn't fully comprehend where exactly you were.
It's a loooong looong way from Playa...
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Old 09-13-2014   #20 (permalink)
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It's a loooong looong way from Playa...
It's a loong way from Oregon. It's a loong way from anywhere!
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Old 09-15-2014   #21 (permalink)
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August 22: Arctic Sunset

Inuvik is located at 68°21' North latitude. The sun does not set at all for about six weeks or so in June & July. By late August, the sun goes down at around 11:30 or so, followed by a very lengthy twilight, slowly giving way to a deep dusk. The sun comes back up again around 4:00 am; the sky never becomes fully dark at that time of year.

Here are a few shots of the sunset from our campsite in Inuvik:










Coming up: south to the Klondike and end of the photo log.


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Old 09-15-2014   #22 (permalink)
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August 23: Inuvik, NT to Klondike Valley, YT

After two nights camping in Inuvik, it was time to pack ourselves up and start the long trek south to Vancouver. We had another steak & eggs breakfast at the Mackenzie Hotel before hitting the road.

We were uncertain as to where we would stop on our first night southbound. The initial plan had been to stay at Engineer Creek Territorial Park, a couple of hours south of Eagle Plains, however reports of flooding and muddy conditions put us off and we decided to look for an alternative.

We therefore headed off south and soon arrived at the Mackenzie River ferry once again:


Shortly afterwards, we crossed the Peel River ferry and headed back up into the Richardson Mountains. An hour or two later, we reached the Territorial Boundary and crossed back into the Yukon:



Continuing south across the Tundra, we noted that the foliage colours were beginning to turn red and purple much more noticeably than had been the case a few days earlier:




















We crossed the Richardsons, stopped for gas & lunch at Eagle Plains, and continued across the Ogilvies to the same viewpoint we had stopped at on the way up.

We skipped Engineer Creek campground and headed for Tombstone Park, only to find every campsite occupied. We carried on south and after another couple of hours, we reached the Klondike Highway and the end of the Dempster. We headed back towards Dawson City and camped for the night at Klondike River Territorial Park, about 18 km outside of Dawson.

The next morning, we headed south to Whitehorse where we spent a couple of days in bad weather before making a two-day run back to Vancouver and home.

We acquired a flat tire just north of the Arctic Circle as we passed through an area of extremely sharp crushed shale. I'm happy to note that my son immediately took the initiative to do his part in retrieving the spare and changing the tire and we soon carried on our way. I'm even more happy to note that we completed the Dempster in both directions with only ONE flat, which most consider a pretty good record, given the road's reputation as a tire-eater.

The last two photos are from the Ogilvie viewpoint as we said farewell to the Dempster and farewell to the north country for another year:




I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse of the remote far north. The Dempster Highway is truly a trip for the adventurous. It was a tremendous opportunity to share some time with my son, who enjoyed this trip enormously. We have already begun to make plans for next year's northern trip - this time (hopefully) to Denali National Park in Alaska.

Until then, it's off to Playa in November to re-load on tequila and vitamin D.
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Old 09-15-2014   #23 (permalink)
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Fantastic. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 09-15-2014   #24 (permalink)
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What an amazing trip, your pictures are beautiful! Can't wait for next year's TR! Oh, I'm wrong, can't wait for your PDC TR and THEN next year's northern adventure
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Old 09-16-2014   #25 (permalink)
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Fantastic. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed them.
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Old 09-16-2014   #26 (permalink)
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What an amazing trip, your pictures are beautiful! Can't wait for next year's TR! Oh, I'm wrong, can't wait for your PDC TR and THEN next year's northern adventure
Thank you!

It's been over 18 months since we were in Playa. Both my wife & I are itching to get on that plane in November!

My son & I had a lot of fun laying out the basic plan for next year's trip (work & time commitments permitting). We're both looking forward to exploring the Alaska interior and seeing the highest peak in North America.

I promise trip reports from both!
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Old 09-16-2014   #27 (permalink)
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What are your dates?
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Old 09-17-2014   #28 (permalink)
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What are your dates?
In Playa from Nov 10-17

Hopefully visiting Denali in July or August 2015.
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Old 09-21-2014   #29 (permalink)
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Great pictures and thanks for sharing! I was wondering what vehicle you took on this fantastic journey?
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Old 09-22-2014   #30 (permalink)
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Great pictures and thanks for sharing! I was wondering what vehicle you took on this fantastic journey?
Thanks!

My roadtrip vehicle is a 2006 Toyota Sequoia, with 425,000 km on the odometer. The back is big enough for a double air mattress so camping is very convenient.
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