26 days and 11,859 kilometeres living in a truck, with my soon to be wife and our two dogs Buddy and Millie. I have dreamed of going north and completing the Dempster, smell the sea air in Valdez, panning klondike rivers for gold and seeing the great arctic tundra. the trip was memorable to say the least, life changing is a better way to put it.
We started at mile 0, Dawson creek BC on june 1 and head to the liard hot springs. This is a fantastic place to stop, in the middle of no where is a paradise. It was quite a rainy first few days when we left, including our stay at liard but that made it all the much better. We had good reason to set our awning up the first night, our complete set up attracted quite a few visitors to our camp to see just exactly what we had happening and even take pictures! and laying in warm water while cool rain splashes off the surface is really something.
Its the perfect amount of developed, the camp sites are nice, the springs had a nice gravel bottom and benches put in, but not the hoity toity way most places are anymore.
Along our way to whitehorse we seen a wide variety of wildlife, along with over 30 blackbears in the alcan ditches. The drive is never dull and spotting animals keeps you wide awake. Theres many places to stop on the way such as the steamboat mountain, Watson lake sign post and the beautiful Teslin area.
When we got to Whitehorse, we had thought we made it to the pearly gates… you know the ones up above. This little city, if you wanna call it that is an oasis in a paradise, theres no shortage of colorful people, interesting shops, heritage on every street and a river runs through it all, the mighty Yukon river. The Yukon river is the third longest in north america, it runs 3185 km from the northern coastal mountains of BC to the Bering Sea. When the Klondike gold rush was at its peak the Yukon river was a vital mode of transportation, and was used to travel between Whitehorse and Dawson City up until the middle of the 20th century when roads, bridges and ferry’s were put in place for travelers, our first night in Whitehorse we headed south to the Canol road and ventured off to find a camping spot.
The fallowing day was spent touring around the Whitehorse area, and Anna worked on a stained glass project with her cousin. Later that day i took her to show off the trails and sights i had found, this in just outside Whitehorse overlooking Fish lake.
(Andrew from Allsmith Overland)
Our next stop was Dawson City, a little to early in the season for all the color of the town to show so we didn’t stay long, ate greek food at the drunken goat, walked around the town, picked up and ice cream cone and headed for the Dempster Highway. Our first night on the Dempster was spent at Tombstone campground, Tombstone is an awesome area, tons of hiking opportunities and endless views.
The Dempster Highway is truly a road for travelers of all kinds, we met many people on this road and generally traveled with them the whole way leap-frogging one another when one would stop to sight see, watch animals or shit. The half way point to Inuvik is Eagle Plains, population 9. Though there isnt much to see here you never stop looking, the valleys are endless, only mountains in the far off distance.
After Eagle Plains is a milestone, the Arctic Cirlce. Ive always wanted to cross it and now i have, truly in the Canadian Arctic. It was here i proposed to Anna, she said no originally but she quickly realized she had no other way to get home, and i mean home was a looooong desolate walk away, so it became a yes.
We were the first group of people to cross the Peel river that year, and actually had to camp overnight while they put the ramps for the ferry in but this provided ample time to converse with our fellow travelers, and figure out what they are all about. There was one guy in particular who we dubbed “big dummy” an oil patch worker from Fox Creek AB, not to far from where we live, small world aint it… but this guy was some kind of wonderful, he had lots of stories and told them with such conviction even he believed them. We toured Fort McPherson after crossing the Peel and found a little shop in an old lady’s house where she sold her hand made moccasins, beaded jewelry and other things, we both bought necklaces and enjoyed the experience, we were invited right into her home.
Next stop Inuvik, the end of the Dempster Highway, a small place with alot of travelers from all over , Europe, New zealand, Russia, Asia and Alberta. Before we could head to Inuvik we had one more river to cross, a very big one called the Mackenzie. It was here we first met Mike from Virginia, he was the true definition of an overlander, into his 3rd year of living on the road with his Honda ruckus 50cc scooter, he was truly one of a kind interesting. The ferry crosses at a small Gwich’in community called Tsiigehtchic.
The drive from the ferry crossing to Inuvik is very flat, and the sides of the roads are dotted with little pools of water everywhere, as well as tents and other forums of shelter that people live in.(Alestine’s is the fancy restaurant of Inuvik, a small two story log dining cabin with a rooftop patio, and the food cooked in a bus. The food though is fantastic and made with locally sourced fish and caribou.)
The highway to Tuktoyuktuk was not yet completed so we didn’t make it quite to the Arctic Ocean shores, but that makes good reason for another trip. There is a very cool little museum here with tons of Inuit history and culture, as well as a church shaped like an igloo.
We were done in Inuvik and we hit the Dempster again, when we got back to the ferry it was windy as heck and the ferry couldn’t cross the river, it was giant swell after swell on the river surface so we turned back to spend a night camped in the woods where the wind wouldn’t be so bad. We stayed in Tombstone again on the way back and went to the parks info center there and met a nice park ranger lady who seemed like she didn’t see many people way out here, she sure liked to talk but she was very nice and gave us lots of info. We did some more hiking and sight seeing in the Tombstone range.
Alaska was full of sights and wonders, by far the most beautiful piece of USA ive ever seen, and some of the nicest people too. Valdez is a place ill never forget not only for its beauty but its charm as well, a small little ocean town tucked in between foggy mountains and the seafood is delectable.
(geocache we found while walking around in alaska, off some highway, somewhere)
after our time in Alaska we headed home on the stewart cassiar highway, a real beauty drive for sure. and the salmon glacier, well thats pretty cool too. Stewart BC is a quaint and cute little town, with an old school feel and a salty ocean smell. We had lunch at the toaster museum cafe, that’s right a toaster museum.(worlds biggest fly rod in houston BC.)
All in all its taken me a year to finish this, with the quality of work and time spent withering over time. but the trip was nothing short of phenomenal, we have both visited the Yukon territory again since and will be doing more travels north in the future.