Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

4x4 trips to Mexico, to the ski hill, or to the local grocery store...

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Erebus
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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:58 am

23 July, Wed. Whitehorse

They're everywhere, they're everywhere!!!! Okay, so we go to the Chocolate Claim this morning for coffee and croissants, and what do our wondering eyes see, but parked at the Centre de la francophonie is a Delica. Exceed, BC plates, grey over black, jasper roof rack, reflective tint on the back side windows, Max overdrive sticker on rear. So I parked beside it, left a note. And while sitting in the cafe, there passed a white kei pickup (Honda?).

So far, in Whitehorse, have seen Toyota High Ace, Land Cruiser, Nissan Safari, Nissan S-Cargo.

Near Teslin saw a Pinzgauer. Also saw two Mercedes expedition vehicles (one RHD, one LHD), with Ushuaia sticker on the back. Ushuaia (Argentina) is a favourite New Year's meeting place for expedition travellers. Some day I hope to go there too. As far south as you can drive.

Fred
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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:00 pm

Posted 24 July from Dawson City Public Library
Here is a photo of the 2 Delicas in Whitehorse that I mentioned in my previous post.
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We set off after lunch in Whitehorse. The Deli seems to want to run in the afternoons. In the mornings, it seems to want to loaf at 80-90, but in the afternoons it wants 100-110. Must be like a dog team or horse team heading for the barn.

There's not a lot of civilisation between Whitehorse and Dawson City. Carmacks isn't exactly big, and the rest are not much more than a gas station. Somewhere around Carmacks, can't remember exactly, there is an interpretive trail that explains a forest fire that happened in 1998 (careless humans) and how the cycle of vegetation works after a fire.
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Next stop was the Montague Roadhouse. The last remnant of the Whitehorse to Dawson stage coach trail that started in 1902. $125 for a 5-day run in a stagecoach (meals and accomodations extra!) But there must have been demand, since they ran 3 to 7 times a week.
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We decided to call it an early night and stop at McQuesten, a little hideout I know about. The plan was to put up the awning, get out the lawn chairs and relax with our Bushbuddy stove. But the abundant mosquitoes put paid to that idea. So we went to bed instead. As you can see, the deli liked this hideout.
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The next morning moved to park beside the Stewart River to watch the mist burn off. That spot is also an airstrip used by the Yukon Gov't for firefighting. There were several fresh drums of Jet B sitting there. Wonder if the Deli would be willing to run on Jet B? I know aircraft diesel engines can easily use Jet A, but those are new engines with FADECs. Nor do I know the difference between Jet A and B.
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Then on to Dawson. Had to stop at the junction for the Dempster to really prove we are here. Note the right turnsignal, even though we went straight!
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We also went into the Klondike River Lodge (at the Junction) to get a souvenir shirt and T-shirt. Several years ago, in a Calgary thrift shop, I saw a neat sweatshirt with pawprints down the sleeves, a wolf on the front, and "Klondike River Lodge, Mile 0, Dempster Highway". I had to look up where the Dempster was. That sweatshirt was one of the triggers for this trip.

And now we are in Dawson. We went into Kate's restaurant for lunch, and the "buddies" from Terrace had just been seated, so we joined them for lunch. We also talked to a motorcyclist who just came down the Dempster, so we got a good road report.

Oh, the NWT have a tourist info centre here. The native woman we talked to has been to Inuvik many times, and her sister works at the tourist info centre there. A couple of years ago, she did a trip. Started in the winter Tuktoyaktuk, north of Inuvik, with the Beaufort Sea in the background. Three weeks later she was in Costa Rica with the the Pacific Ocean in the background. Down there, the locals all thought she was Japanese, and since they liked the Japanese at the time, she just kept quiet and took advantage of their friendliness.

TTFN
Image "I could be just around the corner from heaven, or a mile from hell." -- Jackson Browne, "The road and the sky".

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:46 pm

Posted Sunday 27 July from Inuvik

Post 1 of 3
In Whitehorse, at the Beringia Centre, we learned that parts of the Yukon were never glaciated. There used to be giant elk, short-faced bears, and giant beavers, all of which are now extinct. But on the road from Whitehorse to Dawson, we saw evidence that the giant beaver are alive and well, and building roadside condos just as fast as everyone else.
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Dawson City is an interesting mix of ghost town, tourist haven, and working town. The Palace Grand Theatre has daily performances, you can't always tell if a building is an active business, abandoned, or only the exterior pays homage to the past. Sometimes it is all three. The streets are dirt (or mud), and the sidewalks really are boardwalks just like the old days. By the way, marsgal42, we stopped at the Pit, and only a solo guitarist was playing, so we couldn't say "boo" to your brother. Sorry.
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[continued in next post]
Last edited by Erebus on Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:52 pm

Posted 27 July from Inuvik

Post 2 of 3
Mile Zero, the Dempster. Friday morning, the deli is eager to run. On to Inuvik!!!
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A sobering reminder that there isn't anything on this road. It took 20 years to build, and it still requires lots of maintenance. This year, because of the rains, it has been in rough shape. It was even closed for a few days a week ago. The fact that regularly there are gates to close off the road is a good clue.
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Soon the first easy paved section gave way to a look at what would lie ahead
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Not far in, there was a fox den beside the road. There were 6 kits, and no adults in sight. So in true child fashion, they play-fought. I watched for quite a while, and took lots of photos.
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Then the weather closed in a little, and the vistas became a little more rugged.
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It is not hard to realize that in the last many thousands of years, the most significant change has been the Dempster. Oh, vegetation may have changed, species appeared and disappeared, but the landscape didn't change much.
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Nearer the treeline, we saw an effect of the permafrost on the trees. They call them "drunken forests" because some of the trees lean, and only the tops really grow well. This photo was taken at 1100pm, but the sun was still more than an hour from setting.
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[continued in next post]
Image "I could be just around the corner from heaven, or a mile from hell." -- Jackson Browne, "The road and the sky".

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:01 pm

Posted Sunday 27 July from Inuvik

Post 3 of 3

We spent Friday night at Eagle Plains, the 1/2 way point, and the only fuel stop in the first 600 kilometres. To have an idea of what that looks like check out the 360 photo/video/interactive at http://virtualguidebooks.com/Yukon/Nort ... Hotel.html (drag mouse to scroll left/right).

We continued north. A ways further, the road widens a little, and pretends to be flat and smooth to make the Eagle Plains airstrip.
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Vista after vista rolled by. The Dempster isn't in great shape this year due to rains, so the 90 km/h speed limit is either a cruel joke or some serious optimism. We did 40-60 most of the time, on one stretch I got it up to 85 for a kilometre.

The Arctic Circle has a display, but we didn't really stop. As you can see, it was chill and blustery, with 60 km/h winds.
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We climbed up out of Beringia (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beringia) to the Yukon/NWT border, where, looking back, you see the Dempster winding out into the distance. Then you realize in the full 360 degree view, other than the Dempster, there are no roads, no settlements, no houses. Possibly not even any First Nations people or trappers in your field of view.
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This link will take you to a video, a 45MB, 360-degree panorama taken from the roof of the deli. I pivoted too fast, but the wind (which is what the sound track is) was strong and I didn't want to get blown off! It gives you an idea of what it is like.

Then the ferry. The ferries here do something different: while crossing, a deckhand comes around with a squeegie to clean your back window and taillights. This is not so much a courtesy as a safety issue, because the back of the vehicle gets pretty dirty.
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At any of the interpretive centres on the road, they have wonderful displays about the Gwitch'in and Inuvuialuit First Nations and how they live in harmony with the land. They often don't pull punches with their message to tourists:
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"Soon" we came to the second ferry that sails a triangle of landings: south on the Dempster, southeast to the town of Tsiigehtchic (pronounced CIG-a-chick), and north to Inuvik. During the spring and fall, between the times the ferry stops running and the ice bridges form, Tsiigehtchic is completely cut off, lying as it does between the Arctic Red River and the Mackenzie. The church is on the bluff overlooking the confluence.
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Something that has given me several chuckles: From Eagle Plains to Inuvik, 350 some odd kilometres, the ONLY northbound vehicle we saw on the road (excluding a couple puttering about at Midway, and the ones on the ferries), was a RHD Land Cruiser. Rob, the driver, could have had a Delica for the trip if it had occurred later, but he was impatient, so used his LC instead. We've seen him several times in town. We've also seen an Astro van that we saw early on on from Dawson and in campgrounds. They are here in Inuvik, we've been waving to them.

Sunday we wandered around town, relaxed, washed the Deli. We had arranged weeks ago to meet the zone commander of the Inuvik zone of CASARA (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association), but we couldn't meet earlier than this evening because he was on an active search for some missing boaters. Sadly, only one of the 5 persons survived. Lorne gave us a tour of the town, then went to their home for pizza and beer, and the company of another local CASARA member.

Tomorrow (Monday) we will sightsee.

TTFN
Last edited by Erebus on Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image "I could be just around the corner from heaven, or a mile from hell." -- Jackson Browne, "The road and the sky".

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby The Pinkfingers » Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:20 pm

Sorry - I have to interject. These are awesome posts. I love your pictures and write-ups. Very, very cool.

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby piyeguyo » Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:46 am

Hi Fred

Just came back from holidays and I'm reading your great posts and adventures. I'm so happy for you. Good luck and enjoy the rest of your trip.
Hope to see you in Calgary for a Delica meet.
Regards,
Fabio :M

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby betty » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:27 pm

Sorry this is random.
Sounds like you guys are having a great trip.
From the photos it looks like I missed you guys by a couple days.
Was in the Yukon for the Dawson City Music Fest, visiting family and hanging out at my place in Tagish.
This seemed to be the year for Delica sightings up there.
Hope the rest of your trip goes well.

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby TardisDeli » Wed Jul 30, 2008 7:03 pm

Hi Fred and Leslie, I am so impressed with your trip. WOW. Desolate.

Glad to see you have made good use of the roof rack, after all the time you spent here at the TardisDeli Motel fixing it up. The kids next door still ask where is the man who lives on the roof of the Delica.

Today, we have another Calgary Delica visiting, Jungle Jon and wife and son visiting the TardisDeli Motel, on their way through to Vancouver Island (they leave tomorrow for Bamfield).

Cheers, Happy Travels.

Christine and Jay, who now calls us The "Halfway House" for Delica's.

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:41 pm

Posted 01 August from Dawson City

We are having a wonderful trip, but I guess we should start heading for home. Thanks Jay, for all the help with the roof rack while we were at the TardisDeli Motel, everything stayed in place and we didn't need to use any of the extrication gear. For that we are grateful

We got into Dawson City last night after an exciting trip down the Dempster. But that story will have to wait while I catch y'all up on what's at the end of the Dempster.

When you last heard from your intrepid correspondant, we had arrived in Inuvik. We spent 4 "nights" in Inuvik. The time flew, and we could have easily spent more time there.

First, here is a photo of the end of the Dempster. This sign is on the outskirts of town.
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We just missed the big celebrations of Inuvik's 50th birthday. Inuvik was established in 1958 when the government decided that Aklavik was prone to flooding and should be abandoned and a new town built. Well, Aklavik has refused to die, but Inuvik is a thriving town of 3485.

One of the touristy things we did was tour the Igloo church. Built shortly after the town was established, the Oblate Father Larocque was asked to "build a church that reflects the Inuvialuit culture". The father, who only had Grade 5 formal education, went to work, and produced a magnificent work of art, and of engineering genius. They also asked a young Inuvialuit woman, Mona Thrasher, to paint the stations of the cross. With no formal education, only with "she showed talent", she painted directly on the walls. Amazing. The paintings are still there, and she went on to become a well known Native artist. Oh, ya, one of the fathers found some scrap metal, and during the winter hammered out some artwork for the alter.
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Oh, then after the church was built, the government required blueprints. So the community flew in a drafter, and with the fathers who had built it, they created the blueprints of what they had built. Sometimes ya gotta wonder. A tour of that church should be required of all architects and engineers to see how intuitive processes work.

We didn't sleep too well in Inuvik, because although the sun does actually set after 19 July, it doesn't get dark. As a result, everyone is out and about, kids are up at 2 in the morning riding their dirt bikes, etc.

On Monday, we flew to Tuktoyuktuk to tour that town. You can't really go that far north without finishing the job. Tuk lies on the Beaufort Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean, at the end of the Mackenzie Delta. You can drive there in the winter via an ice road on the Mackenzie, but in summer it is boat or fly. Population 900, almost all Inuvialuit. Although the town regularly clears out to go hunting, fishing, or whaling.

Here's the view from the plane (Beech King Air 100 C-FMWM) as we came into Tuk. You don't want lousy pilots up here! Overshoots or undershoots are not recommended.
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After a tour of the community freezer -- dig down 30 feet into the permafrost, dig out rooms, and you've got a freezer, no electricity required -- we went wading in the Arctic Ocean. The rocks were too sharp and slimy with algae for me to go swimming, although I planned to.

Tuk is also the northernmost terminus of the TransCanada Trail, with a marker near the water's edge
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On the way back, the plane circled the pingos so we could photograph them. The delta area is rather watery, with lots of lakes. And the camera just wouldn't stop taking photographs. These shots were taken at about 9 pm on the way back to Inuvik.
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On Tuesday our host Lori took us on a tour of the community garden -- converted arena -- to see how well things grow with 24 hour sunlight. When we came out, there was a couple snuffling around the deli. In talking to them, we discovered that they are the owners of the delica we spotted in Whitehorse, and that last winter they drove to Tuk on the iceroad. So, we are not the first delica to Inuvik, and they drove as far as you can drive in Canada -- even further than we could or did. Remarkable Delicas have been everywhere in this remarkable land!

The stories of the trip south on the Dempster will have to wait until the next posting.

TTFN
Image "I could be just around the corner from heaven, or a mile from hell." -- Jackson Browne, "The road and the sky".

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Jaz » Fri Aug 01, 2008 1:30 pm

Fred, these updates are freakin awesome, and I'm sure you are beating a trail for many a Deli (including us, eventually) to follow. Good show old chap!
Image

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby jwfchase » Fri Aug 01, 2008 1:32 pm

I hope this thread can be archived in an easy to find location on this website, it's AWESOME and all new Delica owners should check it out from here on in!

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:02 am

Posted 02 August from Dawson City

Part 1 of 2 (part 2 to follow when I can)

While in Inuvik, I saw a vehicle I had heard about. To patrol the Dempster, the RCMP uses a crewcab dually pickup with a camper. The member is permitted to take his/her family along, making it a working vacation.
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(Just an aside rant: the school board I work for won't allow people to bring their kids to work on "take your kid to work day" because it is too distracting and unsafe. But a cop on patrol is encouraged to take his along. Make sense to you?)

The weather in Inuvik had been great until the morning we planned to leave. It was cold, about 6 degrees, rainy, windy, and generally miserable. We have lunch at the Eskimo Inn, then pick up sandwiches at the Cafe Gallery to take with us. We head off mid-afternoon, not certain that we will not turn back. Then we get a crack in the windshield -- not on the 700+ km of gravel we had driven on -- oh, no, on the PAVED section between Inuvik and the airport! When we leave pavement, the road is smooth enough, but lots of mud spray. Enough mud that by the time we stop for the night just past the border, the tailgate won't stay open because of the weight of the mud. But we will wear the mud as a badge of honour. Very little traffic, all of it going faster than us. Let them.

The drive from Inuvik to Tsiigehtchic is about 100 km. When we get to Tsiig, the ferry has just finished loading, so we drive on without stoppping. And on the ferry are all the vehicles that passed us. HaHa. Why did they have to wait up to 20 minutes, when the ferry (supposedly) runs continuously? This is the ferry that does a triangular route. This time it meanders, twirls, and eventually gets to the other side. Not sure if it is being piloted by the captain of the Exxon Valdez or is being run by Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Ferries. Everyone else gets off on the southbound Dempster, but we stay on to go to Tsiig. The truck that gets on at the south end parks facing us. Why so crowded, when we are the only 2 vehicles on a 15-vehicle ferry? Who knows. Later, when we get back on, the ferry stops at the N terminal. We are staying on to go south, but we have to drive off, turn around and drive back on. This, on a double-ended ferry!
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We also had to use 4WD to get on the ferry at Tsiig, since the gravel was very very soft, and the ferry didn't exactly dock straight on.
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Tsiigehtchic is a Gwich'in Native village. We stop at the band office, where we get some material about the Gwich'in people, and ask about where we might be able to find dryfish. But most of the people are out at the fishing camps, so none is available. We wander through the cemetary near the church pictured earlier on the trip. It is still cold and blustery. We also find out it snowed there at 2PM. Even the ravens are having a hard time. Two of them are huddled near the top of the steeple. As I'm shooting, another one comes in for a landing.
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After Tsiigehtchic, we climb up into more rain, fog and cloud. Lesley seems to get the worst of it, every time she takes over the driving, the road gets rougher and the weather closes in. It is hard to tell in this shrunken version of the photo, but the road continues all the way to the left hand edge, just below the clouds.
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The clouds play peek-a-boo with the mountains.
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But as we near the Yukon border, we see light ahead, blue sky, sun.
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Next posting when I can...
Image "I could be just around the corner from heaven, or a mile from hell." -- Jackson Browne, "The road and the sky".

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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:47 pm

Posted 04 August from Whitehorse

Post 1 of 3
Okay, so the last posting ended at the Yukon-NorthWest Territories border. We continued in much nicer weather. We stopped at the border and ate our sandwiches, and I took a 360-degree video clip. Click this link to play it (warning, it is 90 MB).


We spent the night in a gravel pit about 8 km north of the Arctic Circle. Checking my GPS, I find that the whole display and signpost is actually almost a mile north of the circle. But I guess that flat terrain there lent itself better to the rest area. Notice our dirty Deli. More on that later :-)
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On the way north, we had noticed a car abandoned on the road. It was still there on the way back. It appears the Dempster is a tough mistress, she just leaves corpses where they fall. Notice the grader has just gone around it.
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Down near Tombstone park, the weather to the west showed off quite nicely, so I had to grab a photo.
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Then we were back in Dawson City on the 1st of August. The next day, we took a boat taxi to the Moosehide Gathering, the first special event we've hit on all our travels.
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[Continued in next post]
Last edited by Erebus on Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image "I could be just around the corner from heaven, or a mile from hell." -- Jackson Browne, "The road and the sky".

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Erebus
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Re: Inuvik or bust by expedition Delica

Postby Erebus » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:54 pm

Posted 04 August from Whitehorse

Post 2 of 3
We decided to walk back on the Moosehide Trail, described as "1.5 hours, with a bit of scrambling." The first part was great, interesting vegetation ...
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... and then a nice lookout, where you could see the whole area ...
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... including the tourist boat sidewheeler ...
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But then the nasty part started, with steep sideslope on a fresh slide, rock scramble on the moosehide slide. It was pretty much over the edge of my comfort zone, and WAY beyond Lesley's. But somehow she was able to do it. My description would be "3 hours, only for experienced mountain hikers who don't have a problem with steep sideslopes and rock scrambles." Fortunately we had booked a B&B for the night, so we could have nice hot shower and sleep in comfort after a nice dinner and bottle of wine.

The next morning we stopped at the visitor centre and commented on the description. They were very apologetic, and promised to make sure all staff were aware of the difficulties. We then walked around town a little. The Westminster is where marsgal42's brother plays in the Snake Pit, commonly referred to as "the Pit", and justifiably so.
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There is a guidebook on the Dawson City cemeteries, of which there are quite a few, including an NWMP/RNWMP/RCMP one, and a Jewish one.
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On to Whitehorse. Of course, when you don't leave until 4:00, you won't make it that day. We tried to stop at a campground, but it was full. No surprise on a long weekend Saturday (okay, it isn't a long weekend in Yukon, but is most provinces.). So we kept an eye out and stopped for the night on a little side trail that lead nowhere.
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[continued in next post]
Image "I could be just around the corner from heaven, or a mile from hell." -- Jackson Browne, "The road and the sky".


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