Tag Archives: canada

Tuk 2018 – Day 8 – Into the Arctic

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Tuk 2018 – Day 8 – Into the Arctic

We woke up raindrops sitting on the tent, but at least it wasn’t actually raining while we packed up. We had a later start than we hoped today, but ended up getting to the campsite we had wanted to anyway. Dawson was fun, but it is good to be getting away from the bars and casino.

Today was north on the Dempster Highway. Highway is a strong word for this road. It is a 900km unpaved road from just outside of Dawson City to Tuktoyaktuk, with the Inuvik to Tuk portion just opening this year. The Yukon portion of the road is made from shale, treated with calcium chloride. It is super hard on tires and either very dusty when dry, or slippery when wet. The best time to drive it is within a day after rain, so we were hitting it at a great time.Day 6 (6 of 1)

Our first stop was the Tombstone Territorial Park Interpretive Centre. We popped in to get our Dempster Highway passports stamped, but also took the chance to ask them a few questions, as we plan to stop there on the way back down. Day 6 (2 of 1)

The next stop was  our first unplanned stop of the trip about 16km short of Eagle Plains when the low tire pressure light came on. A quick look at the tires didn’t show any visible damage, and Eagle Plains was close so we pressed on.  By the time we got to Eagle Plains, and pulled up to the gas pumps, the left-rear tire was visibly low. By the time the tire repair guy came to look at it, it was flat as a pancake.  He showed us the damaged spot, a finger sized hole was punched through the tread, likely from a sharp rock. Luckily, it was repairable, so we were back on the road with our wallets being not much lighter. (We were even pleasantly surprised at the price of gas) We are not sure if speed was a factor, but slowed down even more for the remainder of the road.img_1537

Next up, about 35km from Eagle Plains, was the Arctic Circle, a first-time experience for Linda. Welcome to the arctic explorer club! Of course, we stopped for a photo op.Day 6 (4 of 1)

The scenery along the Dempster is amazing, and changes all along the way. From the sharp peaks of the Tombstones, the expanse of Eagle Plains, and the undulating Richardson Mountains. It is next to impossible to describe the vast expanse of the land. Linda said she had never seen anything like it before, I know I hadn’t the first time I drove it. It was nice to be the passenger for most of it this time, as I got to take in all the viewsDay 6 (5 of 1)

Near Engineer Creek Campground we passed by treeless mountains that look more like enormous gravel piles than the mountains most people are familiar with. It really seems quite surreal. We were able to spot 4 Dall Sheep meandering on the side of the mountain. They were to high up to get a good pic, though they are more identifiable than just white lobs on a grey background :). We also saw 2 bald eagles along the way, but unfortunately we were unable to stop for the first one and the second flew away before we could get a pic.

Day 6 (3 of 1)

We hung our hats at the Rock Creek Territorial Campground. It is a small rustic campground with private treed sites and free firewood. It also had a welcoming committee of about a zillion mosquitoes. Nothing a little deet and some coils couldn’t fix.

We feasted on a wonderful meal of steaks, corn and potatoes done over the open fire, accompanied by a bottle of wine. What could be better. Still tired from our evenings in Dawson we called it an early night. Overnight it rained, though we were dry inside the tent in the morning, we did have to pack up wet gear, and our chairs had sat out all night. Oh well, we can dry them out in Tuk tomorrow.

 

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Tuk 2018 – Day 1 – Great time in the car

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Tuk 2018 – Day 1 – Great time in the car

Despite day 1 of the trip actually being on day 2 and being in a car and not on bikes, we had a great time. We actually found that we stopped more for touristy things and photo ops (like the trestle) than we would have on the bikes. And we very much enjoyed being able to easily talk to each other about things we saw, and to plan out other stops along the way.

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I had driven by a sign on the highway in Whitecourt saying “Canada’s Best Bathroom” a few times and figured this was the trip to find out what made this bathroom the best. It was at an Esso rest centre that can been seen from the highway on the south end of town. Besides the bathroom, you can order a pizza, get a Panini/soup combo, or an assortment of not too bad convenience store hot food. The bathroom was truly the nicest gas station bathroom I have ever seen, beats the bathroom at most restaurants I’ve been to. Let us know what you think?

The next bathroom stop, not so much. We stopped in Fox Creek at a gas station, and Linda used the men’s room (not like we think there should be a difference) as the women’s had poo everywhere.

Next up was Dawson Creek, mile zero of the Alaska Highway. We stopped for a photo op at the mile 0 sign, something neither of us had done before, then headed out as we wanted to get past Fort St John. We did make it past and ended up at a gem of a campground. Inga Lake regional park is a primitive, mostly unmaintained park with around 18 sites. There is a short 2km road to get to it from the highway. Unfortunately, the road is also used by heavy oil patch vehicles and was in rough repair, with some of the ruts in the gravel/dirt road being 6-8 inches deep. We were told that repairs had been done this week and that earlier the ruts were about a foot deep.

We got there early enough to get a site with a view of the lake. As an added bonus, there is no fee to camp there. But, there is also no potable water, so we were pretty rationed having only 2l with us. But dinner was fire roasted hot dogs, followed by roasted marshmallows (yum), so no dishes involved. Enough water was saved for coffee and wash up in the am.img_1430

There were some very nice folks there who were kind enough to loan us an ax to split the campground provided poplar logs, since we had only brought the hatchet we would have taken on the bikes. The guy that loaned us the ax also brought us some dried fire-wood he had and some charcoal to get the fire going. Another fellow brought us some spruce logs that were a bit easier to split than the poplar.img_1432

It had been an early start to the day, and neither of us had slept well, so it was an early night for us. We packed it in shortly after 9. It was a good sleep, but we found the air mattress was a bit cold over night so night 2 we will have a blanket on top of it. All in all a good day.

Not a motorbike trip to Tuk

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Not a motorbike trip to Tuk

We have been planning an epic adventure, a one-month trip from Calgary, up the Alaska Hiway to Whitehorse, north to Dawson City, then up the Dempster highway to Tuktoyaktuk by motorbike. We have done all the things we should to prepare, including having the Ural serviced before the trip, as it needed a seal. Alas, when the mechanics opened the engine to replace the seal, they found the clutch was foobarred. Ok, they can order in parts, it will be a few days but they would be here this week on Tues, bike would be ready Wednesday. The order comes in, one part is missing. Frig. But they will air express the part, bike will be ready Thursday. Thursday comes, they call, the right box arrived with the wrong part. Double Frig. They were air expressing the part again, and hoped to do the work today. The part didn’t arrive until late afternoon, so trip delayed at least one day.

In the meantime, the floor of the living room is covered with gear waiting for a home. I had meeting out of town this afternoon and had planned to leave from there and meet Linda in Jasper. I was trying to be optimistic, and still believed we would be in Jasper tonight, even though a little voice in the back of my head though keeps saying Jasper is a bust, and we will likely head out tomorrow. We can’t cancel our reservation in Jasper tonight, but it was for a campground, so we won’t be out much. And, it will only put us a half day behind, maybe not even if there is a tail wind to help the Ural along.

By late afternoon we decided that we don’t want to wait and see if the Ural is ready to go tomorrow. We are going to change our plans and make it a car trip instead. So the Beemer is unloaded and the car is loaded up. Not the trip we had planned, and a bit disappointing particularly since we bought the Ural specifically for this trip. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to heading out tomorrow morning, with no agenda except to be in Dawson City for Dust to Dawson on June 21, head up to Tuk, then back down to Whitehorse with time to visit. It is still going to be an adventure, a chance to drive to Tuk, and an opportunity to visit friends we haven’t seen in 5 years.

You only said we couldn’t go upside down.

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(edited 30 to add video)

Have you heard about mountain coasters? They consist of a very long length of pipe, winding down the side of a mountain and anchored into place. Then you take a small plastic sled with some running gear on the bottom and attach it to the pipe, add a handle for breaking and you have yourself a mountain coaster.

Mountain Coaster Sled

Mountain Coaster Sled (cc) Wiki Commons

Since I first heard of these I knew I needed to go on one, and was very pleasantly surprised when I saw a ticket package for “The Pipe” in Revelstoke. The catch though, is that Linda hates roller coasters. She says it’s because she doesn’t like to go upside down. So armed with that caveat, I suggested we should pick one up, it was for two trips on the mountain coaster (which doesn’t go upside down), and a gift card for the restaurant. I’m not sure if I just got her at a moment of weakness where the idea of hurtling down a mountain on a little plastic sled some how sounded appealing, or if was just because we had only recently moved back within spitting distance of the mountains and was up for an adventure. Either way, I didn’t ask twice and tossed the card into the shopping cart.

Once we got home and read the fine print, we discovered it was only good for one person. Gee, I guess we have to go get another and have 2 trips each. But, if the first ride was too much, then instead of a second coaster ride we could instead take the upper gondola to the top of the mountain. And, there was that $25 credit for the restaurant for each of us so that made the deal great.

When we were looking at when we should make the 4 hour trip, we were looking for events that we might be able to couple it with and were thrilled to find that we had not missed the Horizon’s Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Nakusp. It is a gathering of folk who either already do, or want to, travel to far away places on motorbikes. Perfect, we can add an extra day at the beginning of the trip and kill 2 birds with one stone.

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Williamson Lake Camp Ground

As it was only a 4 hour trip to Revelstoke, we decided to leave right after work to avoid using an extra day of vacation leave. That would have worked great except for few of things. First, rush hour traffic was insane, so it took us an hour just to get out of Calgary. Second, it is Canada’s 150 anniversary and all of the national parks are free to enter so the tourists are here in droves, and lastly it have been a horrendous summer for forest fires in BC. All of these things managed to add an extra couple of hours to our trip, so we arrived at out campground in the dark after the office had closed.

Some incredibly helpful campers helped us navigate to our site, and setting up by the light of a head-lamp isn’t actually all that bad. Particularly since we did a dry run the night before in our backyard. The campsite was great. Were were right on Williamson Lake, and there was enough ambient light that we could see the stillness of the water, with the trees being reflected, see the milky way, and listen to a waterfall across the lake while eating our craft dinner. It was quite delightful.

We wanted to get an early start in the morning, but not enough to set an alarm. Nature took care of that for us though, both with the sun and “nature calling”. We were quickly packed up and on our way to Revelstoke Mountain Resort. We were a bit worried about leaving our helmets on the bikes, and the luggage that was only strapped onto the bikes, but we needn’t have been. Everything was still there when we got back.

A friendly staff person at the hill pointed us in the right direction and we were quickly on the gondola heading up the hill. The view of the Columbia river and the mountains was amazing. Unfortunately, this is the moment where Linda says, “Did I tell you I’m afraid of heights”! She still managed to enjoy some of the view, but I was worried about the whole sitting on a plastic sled and going down the mountain thing was going to work for her.

I worried for nothing because fear or not she was bound and determined to go down. We both enjoyed the ride, but used the break more than we had hoped. We headed back up the gondola to use our $25 vouchers for brunch, which was exactly $25 LOL. It was a very nice buffet though, and the view from the deck was worth the price.

We headed off for our second run down, both of us determined to have a faster run than before. I shaved some time off, but Linda did amazing, arriving at the bottom hot on my heels. We thoroughly enjoyed the morning, and would definitely suggest putting it on your list of things-to-do if you are doing a trip through the Canadian Rockies and BC Interior.