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Good Deeds on The Dempster

Hi everyone!

We are now in the beautiful Kluane National Park.  We sadly and, in my case, tearfully, left Dawson City on Tuesday morning and then spent two relaxing nights at a luxury B&B in Takhini Hot Springs. We arrived in the park early this afternoon.

Can I tell you how exciting it was to watch my amazing wife come in second in the Dawson City women only poker tournament?  The $2100 was nice–that is for sure–but I was just so proud of her!

We had a laid back morning after Tel kicked ass in the tournament, and lazed around our B&B until lunchtime.  After that, we piled into our SUV and headed across the Yukon river to the Top of the World highway.  And trust me, whoever decided this road was a highway certainly took some liberties with the term!

Top of the world "highway"

We crossed into Alaska for the second time this trip at Poker Creek, Alaska.  This “town” has a population of two–the two American border guards!–and is the highest land border in the US.

My folks at the Poker Creek, Alaska border crossing

We were going to drive to Chicken, Alaska, but decided to turn back at Boundary, Alaska as the “highway” was under construction, and was in even rougher shape than usual.  While on the way to the Canadian border, we ran into two herds of caribou!

Traffic on the "highway"!

The next day, we got up early because we knew we wanted to drive up the Dempster highway.   The Dempster is the road that leads up past the Arctic circle to Inuvik, NWT. It is an area of spectacular, rugged beauty, untouched by the outside world. While walking to our car, we heard from a friend of our innkeeper that two young men had been stranded on the Dempster, having had three flat tires.  They repaired the first one, only to get two more.  With no more spare tires, one of them took the two flats and got a ride with a passer-by to Whitehorse, where he had the two tires repaired.  The other poor guy stayed with the car, waiting for his buddy to return.  We vowed to look for the guy to drive him to his car.  And…….120 km up the Dempster, we found him!  He was sitting by the side of the road, two spare tires beside him, hoping for a ride back to his car.

Happily, we met Yan, a young man from Quebec who had *kayaked* from Yellowknife to Inuvik with his friend Damien (now waiting with the car on the highway).  They took their 1992 Plymouth Reliant, with 350,0000 km on it, down the Dempster, running into nothing but bad luck.  First their car was robbed, then the starter broke, and they had to leave the the keys in the ignition permanently.  And then, the three flat tires.  Yan had left Damien with the car with nothing but bug spray and bear spray, and had taken 36 hours to get to Dawson, get the tire fixed, and get back to the place where we picked him up.  He was a really interesting guy, and I really felt he was a bit of a kindred spirit.

Could not imagine a more beautiful place to be stranded!

We drove him another 80 km up the Dempster to Damien.  Once there, we gave the two guys all the food that we had in our SUV, as they had been so long without food.  And we waited while they changed their tires, and then followed them the 200 km back to Dawson to make sure that they were OK. We all felt really good about this, and were super happy to know that they made it back to Dawson safely.

Yann & Damien

Good deeds aside, the Dempster was spectacular. The scenery is amazing, and again, the term “highway” is not really appropriate….it is a rough, bumpy, pot-hole filled gravel road, with gigantic sharp rocks jutting out all over the place. But the starkness, the remoteness….they were amazing. And….we ran into a herd of wild horses!!  Well, we did not run into them–we saw them from a distance. We were about 60 km from the Arctic Circle, the sub-Arctic terrain, glacial lakes and snow covered land were completely different from the other places we have visited in the Yukon.  Another highlight on a trip filled with awesome experiences.

The Dempster Highway....heading to the Arctic Circle.

Beautiful, but does not do it justice!

I have to tell you that I was extremely sad to leave Dawson.  Crying sad.  I *hated* leaving and wanted to spend more time there in a way that I cannot describe.  There is just something about the place…..I am under its spell (and will be writing a blog post entirely about this spell when I get back home).

After leaving Dawson, we spent one and a half days at a ranch in Takhini, only leaving the property for lunch on our second day.  The grounds were beautiful, full of dogs and horses and, not surprisingly, more Quebeckers!  We felt sooooo relaxed leaving there this morning.

And now we are in Haines Junction, inside the beautiful Kluane National Park, a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We head back to Whitehorse tomorrow morning and the four of us fly home on Saturday.  If I do not write again, I will definitely write the above mentioned post on the spell of the Yukon when I return to Ottawa.

Bye for now, and thanks for reading!


Lake Kathleen inside the spectacular Kluane National Park

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