Tag Archives: mountains

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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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.

WilliamsonLake

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.