Northern BC and the Yukon Fall 2009.

WxMan

Adventurer
Yeah, I'm about six months late with this post but better late than never, right?

I've been up to the Yukon four times now and can't get enough. There is just something about it that draws me back. In the summer of 2008 I travelled from Edmonton to Inuvik, NT and back in a little over two weeks and it was a spectacular trip. (http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21796) When I found out that my aunt and uncle were planning a trip there for the fall of 2009 I jumped at the chance to join them.

The following image shows most of the ground that covered on this trip.



The first day was a very long one for both of us. My aunt and uncle live in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver, BC so we decided to meet up near Beaumont Provincial Park west of Prince George, BC. It was over 900km to our meeting point for both of us. I arrived during a thundershower to find the gates to the park locked. Nice. I have no idea why the park was closed, it should have been open until at least the end of the month. After waiting for about an hour for my traveling companions to arrive we found a suitable BC Forest Service Rec site on the other side of the lake.

The next day we drove to Meziadin Lake, which is a lovely spot that I camped the summer before. Unfortunately this time a strong pacific frontal system was pushing up through the area and it poured rain all night. The next day we took a little detour out to Stewart, BC and popped over the border to Hyder, AK. The rain was finally starting to let up. Our plan was to leave Hyder and head north up the Cassiar highway but we heard that the road was closed due to a washout. There was a rumor that the road would be reopened some time in the afternoon so we decided to carry on and see what happened. Fortunately our timing was great and the road was reopened about twenty minutes before we got there.


Looking across the inlet near Stewart, BC.

Our next camp was at Kinaskin Lake. It was a beautiful spot and we were blessed with a few hours of sunshine and a pretty decent sunset too.


Kinaskin Lake, BC looking North.


Sunset at Kinaskin Lake.

The next morning we continued north to Dease lake then took a left and drove in to Telegraph Creek. This is a spectacular drive. I drove this road for the first time the previous summer and knew I had to go back. The weather wasn't nearly as good this time though so my photos were far less memorable that the last time. Nevertheless it is always worth the drive to this remote community.


Grand Canyon of the Stikine. The road to Telegraph Creek.

That night we camped at Dease Crossing then headed north through Watson lake to Simpson Lake in the Yukon.


An evening paddle on Simpson Lake in the Yukon.
 

WxMan

Adventurer
Part II...

One of the main goals of our trip was to drive the Nahanni Range Road up to the tungsten mine just over the border in the Northwest Territories. In the not too recent past this road fell into disrepair with the closure of the mine. The mine was operating last fall though so the road was in very good condition. The fall colours were in full effect in this area and we had the best weather of the trip. Everything came together here and it was an amazing drive.


This road goes by many different names. Nahanni Range Road, Cantung Road, Tungsten Road, Highway 10...


Nahanni Range Road.


Nahanni Range Road.


Nahanni Range Road.


Nahanni Range Road.


Nahanni Range Road... with matching dog.

Next we headed up to Ross River to get some desperately needed fuel. From there we drove south on the South Canol Road.


Ross River Ferry to the North Canol Road. Next to it was a dubious looking foot bridge.


The South Canol Road.

The next day we travelled through to Whitehorse and up to Lake Laberge. After days of listening to my uncle talk about the Braeburn lodge cinnamon buns we made a drive way out of our way north to go sample some of these famous dinner plate sized buns. There were great and it took me four sittings to finish one.

Next on our journey was to head back to Whitehorse to pick up my wife who was flying up to spend the weekend with us. Sadly her work does not afford her the flexibility with time off that mine does so this was the only way she could join us. With her onboard we headed south through Carcross and down to Skagway, AK for dinner. We arrived in Skagway after the cruise ships had gone which was nice. We heard that the cruise season had only three days left to go and you got the feeling that the town was ready to celebrate.

That night we camped in Tagish, YK then drove down to Atlin, BC the next morning. We spent the night at Suprise Lake just east of Atlin.


Suprise Lake, BC.

The next day we went north just across the Yukon border and stayed at Tarfu Lake. The weather was back to being cloudy but generally dry.


Tarfu Lake, YK.

With the weekend over it was time to take the wife back to the airport in Whitehorse and say goodbye. From there we began the long journey home. We did find some time to have a dip in the Liard hot springs though which was nice. The next day I split up from my aunt and uncle west of Fort Nelson BC and pushed on home to Edmonton.

Another unforgettable trip north.

Russ.
 

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Mike_rupp

Adventurer
The first picture really captures the feel of a cold misty day in the northwest.

I need to venture a little farther north.
 

Jferg

Observer
Those are great photos. Thank you.

I'll be heading up there shortly (June) for about three weeks. I'm looking forward to doing some stream fishing.

Did you take along two spare tires on your trip or just one?
 

WxMan

Adventurer
Thanks for the kind words everyone.

Jferg,

I have no doubt that you'll have a great time. I've only taken one spare each time I've traveled up there. That said I run identical wheels and tires on my trailer so in the event of an emergency I could use those and leave the trailer behind if I had to. The previous trip I made up the Dempster was very hard on the tires. I didn't have any flats on the truck but my friend on the motorcycle completely wore out his 80/20's driving from Smithers where they were put on brand new to Inuvik and back to Dawson. We patched the biggest holes in his rear tire in Fort Macpherson but there were several other leaks that kept us reinflating it every 150km or so.
 

Jferg

Observer
Thanks for the information WxMan.

I do want to do the Dempster at least up to the Arctic Circle and I've heard that road is really rough on tires. I driven the South Canol Highway, Top of the World Highway, and the Campbell Highway 30 years ago. Back then I only carried one spare and had no flats. How would you compare the Dempster to these roads now (since you've recently travelled many of them) ?
 

WxMan

Adventurer
If you do go up the Dempster I recommend going at least as far as the border between the NWT and YK. We stopped there and hiked up the hill on the east side of the road. It was a short little jaunt with massively rewarding views. I've got some great photos. If I get a chance I'll try to post one for you.

As far as the road conditions go, for us the Dempster seemed to be made up primarily of three different types of surfaces. The first third or so it was a fairly standard hard packed gravel/dirt, which was pretty easy on the tires and truck. The second third was filled with sections of rock. This section was very abrasive and really worked over the tires. The last third or so, mostly on the NWT side of things was loose gravel. This was the worst part for us because the size of the stones was just right for my BFG All Terrains to grab and throw them. There was an almost constant rooster tail of rocks showering my trailer. It was so bad that I ended up Line-X'ing the frame, front, bottom, and sides of the trailer when I got home.

In my experience the Dempster is generally wider, less twisty, and smoother than the South Canol Road. That said, I traveled the Dempster in late June and the South Canol Road in late September. I suspect that these roads deteriorate throughout the summer season. Most of the grading work is done as early as possible in the spring/summer.
 

Jferg

Observer
Thanks for the information WxMan.

I've got a set of Goodyear Wrangler(s) with about 30 000 km on them and I really don't want to ruin them if I can help it. Where would you say the best scenery on the Dempster is found...the first half (from Dawson City to Eagle Plains) or the last half (from Eagle Plains to Inuvik)?

Yes, please post any more pictures you have of your trip. They are fantastic!
 

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WxMan

Adventurer
I don't think you will ruin your tires. Just be sure to take it easy through the real abrasive rocky sections. I couldn't find any pictures of those sections of road but I did find a few good ones of the scenery and general road conditions.

I think the best scenery is found in the Ogilvie mountains on the southern end of the Dempster. North of that range the landscape turns in to large rolling hills. The road winds along the tops of the hills which is interesting. Things get more mountainous as you approach the YK/NT border. Once you get a ways into the Northwest Territories things really start to flatten out around the lower Mackenzie River. After what you have already seen by this point things get relatively boring. There is even one stretch on the between Fort Macpherson and Inuvik where the road is dead straight for around 14km. It seems to go on forever.

(The following pictures were taken on my previous trip back in June of 2008.


Dempster Highway about half way to Eagle Plains.


On top of Goldensides looking north.


On top of Goldensides looking south.

Goldensides is a mountain just a few minutes north of the Tombstone campground about 100km or so up the Dempster. We hiked up around the left side not realizing that there was a well worn trail up the right.


At the YK/NT border. We took a few minutes to hike the hill in the background.


Looking down on the YK/NT border.


Dempster Bug Kill.
 
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Jferg

Observer
I really like your pictures.

I guess my most urgent concern about this trip is that I'm wondering if I should take two spares or one. That concern flips flops from one day to the next. Space on this trip will be at a premium. An extra spare takes up a lot of space, let alone loading it and unloading it daily from the back of my vehicle. I'm sure I'll be wrestling with this up until a few days before I leave.

I am just curious, how much was gasoline at Eagle Plains per litre? Do they carry premium fuel or just regular and diesel?

Your truck is a Tacoma...correct? Does it have the 4L engine? If so, what was your gas mileage like on the trip?

Thanks WxMan.
 
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