Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Trip to Inuvik - Day 3 - Wednesday, 07/10/2002

Dawson City, Yukon, to Eagle Plains, Yukon

I didn't sleep very well last night. I actually went to sleep very early, then awoke about 10:00 p.m., when the sun was beating in through the window, directly onto our bed and into my eyes. I awoke thinking it was morning already. By the time I figured out that I'd only been asleep for a couple of hours, I was wide awake. Our room was very warm, and with the sun beating in on me, it was becoming pretty uncomfortable. After rearranging some things, so the fan was facing my way, I got back to an off-and-on sleep for the rest of the night.

We got up at 7:00 a.m. and ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant. We ordered the special - bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast - for only $3.99 apiece! I also ordered a glass of milk, which was, it turned out, a very thick and chalky concoction of powdered milk - ugh!

Around 10:00 a.m. we headed out of town. On our way to the junction of the Klondike and Dempster Highways, a moose calf darted up out of the roadside ditch in front of our car. It quickly turned and high-tailed it back into the bushes. At the junction, we fueled the car and washed the windows. It would be 250 miles before we would see another gas station, so we topped the tank off with as much as it would hold. Then we began our first leg of the Dempster Highway. Our goal today was to reach Eagle Plains, which is the half-way point on the highway, and the first place where there is any lodging or gas.

The road is unpaved, much of it rather smooth gravel or packed dirt, with occasional rough spots. The scenery is beautiful and varied. The road winds between and over some gorgeous mountains. From the start of the Dempster to Eagle Plains (250 miles) there is absolutely nothing man-made, except the road itself and two or three sheds for road equipment - no other buildings, no restrooms or even out houses, no telephone poles. It is a true wilderness.

We had just passed Two Moose Lake, on our left, when we spied a mother moose with her calf, on the right. We thought it was funny that we would see two moose, right there at Two Moose Lake. We stopped and I took their picture.

Mama moose and baby (you can only see the baby's ears, behind the mama)

The worst driving conditions, but the most beautiful scenery, came in the final 1/3 of the 250 miles. We traveled up to the top ridge of a high mountain, where we drove for a long time. The vistas were amazing. It was raining only slightly, but apparently had rained heavily earlier, because the road was very muddy and slick. This stretch was where we kept seeing inuksuit (the plural of inukshuk). An inukshuk is a stone figure, in the form of a person, made by the Inuit people. They have many purposes - to point the way, to warn of danger, to mark a place of respect, or to act as guides for hunters. Some are small, some large. Each one is made of several rocks balanced on each other. Tradition forbids destroying an inukshuk.

One of the larger Inuksuit we saw

At 4:30 p.m. we pulled into Eagle Plains Lodge, where we had reservations for the night. It's a nice comfortable facility (motel, restaurant, gas station, mechanic's garage, bar, gift shop), in the midst of a sea of mud that they call the parking lot. But mud or not, we were happy to have made it, safely, on our one tank of gas. Our car is caked with mud, mostly in the rear, but also on the sides. The front isn't bad.

They call Eagle Plains Lodge, "The Oasis of the Yukon." It really was an oasis, for us, despite the mud, because it had food, gas, a bed and - maybe most importantly - the first bathroom we'd seen in over 6 hours!

We went immediately to check in, and that's when we found out that they did not have a record of our reservation, and that there were no rooms available. This is the only place in this whole wilderness to get a room, so this was very bad news! Luckily I had with me a faxed confirmation of our reservation. It wasn't their habit to do that, but I had requested it, and they had complied. I went to the car and found the fax, signed by "Jared." That was all it took. When they saw the confirmation, they began moving a staff person out of his room, and cleaning it for us, so we could move in.

Retrieving our luggage from the car turned out to be a challenge, because the thick swarms of mosquitoes were voracious. We both have lots of fresh bites as souvenirs of Eagle Plains. But, we finally got settled into our room, a nice comfortable one, with a view; and then we discovered that our toilet was leaking, and that the bathroom floor was flooded. Jared, the same one who had signed our fax, came and repaired the plumbing. He was very nice, and it seems that he's a Jack-of-all-trades; he works the front desk, works in the auto shop, tends bar, cooks, and (at least tonight) is the plumber!

Today we drove 250 miles, which took 6-1/2 hours. I kept a log of the cars that we met (coming toward us). On this portion of the Dempster we met 34 cars, 3 motorcycles and 1 bicycle. The longest time we drove without seeing another car or person was 28 minutes.

Tomorrow we will cross the Arctic Circle and drive the rest of the Dempster, to Inuvik.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for you to have requested and then carried that critical FAX. In the remote likelihood that some computers may be down at the wrong time, our travel policy is the same; you never know when having a hard copy might come in handy/mjc