Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Hello from Eagle Plains, Y. T.!

 

Start time: 0915

Start odometer: 10391

Eagle Plains is an oasis in the middle of this wonderful wilderness!  It has been another incredible day!  This hotel, many miles from any town, is perched atop a mountain of the Richardson range with an incredible view!  And I am only 21 miles south of the Artic Circle!  Tonight, the sun set at about 2200, and as of 2245, it is still very light out, even though it is almost September.  I will check outside later to see the night skies.  

Today started with cloudy skies and fog, and the temperature was 45F.  I checked out of the hotel and headed east to the junction of Route 5, the Dempster Highway, which will lead me to Inuvik, Northwest Territory.  This is a 457 mile gravel road that is the only public road in North America that leads north of the Artic Circle (the Dalton Highway in Alaska to Prudhoe Bay is private road accessible by the public.)  I am somewhat concerned about road conditions, but will drive carefully and take my time.  One good thing was the weather, which had changed to partially cloudy and warm as the day progressed, including a temperature increase to 65 degrees.

Going slow is worth it.  From the start, the scenery is beautiful, and as you travel further north on the road, you see many incredible views.  The road is in fairly good condition, but there are some pretty rough spots.  On one good section, I found myself going sixty miles an hour down a hill without any worries, while on bad sections, twenty-five miles per hour is as fast as I could go without shaking the car too much!

A few interesting items besides the view were seen along the way.  Near the start of the road, a cabin was located at the end of a drive to the west.  A chain was across the drive with a sign that read "Keep Out or Pay the Price!"  Needless to say, I did not stop there!  During a visit to the Dempster Interpretive Center, a black bear was seen on a hill across the way on a trail.  There was a scope to view it closer, and I learned from the employee at the center that this was a bear known to them, as it has returned to the same area for the past few years.  They knew this bear because of a light stripe of hear along the top of its back.  They can always recognize the bear my this "mohawk."

After assisting a camper with a dead truck battery, I continued north on the Dempster.  At the Interpretive Center, it was mentioned to notice the yellow willows along the river, as well as the red birch on the hillsides.  This would be the place that I might be able to see certain wildlife feeding.  I will continue looking for wildlife tomorrow.  There are many places along the Highway to pull off and stop, which I did many times.  The autumn colors are taking effect on the plants of the tundra, and the colors are absolutely beautiful.  I will have pictures, but they cannot do justice.  And the long views into deep valleys, as well as the many peaks, keep one's eyes very busy.  Along several miles of the road is the Red River, whose water and bank colors are changed due to mineral seepage.  In this area are also several sulpher springs, providing the expected rotten egg smell.

After traveling 229 miles, I arrived at the Eagle Plains Hotel.  As stated before, it is an amazing sight to see appear out of the wilderness!  Many friendly people work here, and I received some tips from the service station attendant about what to expect tomorrow.  I found myself again in a fortunate situation when at an overlook, I met a couple from Redding California.  They had retired several years ago from the Palo Alto area, and were taking a trip along the Dempster to Eagle Plains, staying at this hotel.  I met up with Nell and Dave again at the hotel, and after we checked in, we met in the lounge in front of a window with an incredible view, followed by dinner.  We had a great conversation, and talked much about travel.  They have led a very interesting life, and I hope to have as much energy as they do later in my life.  Another interesting note was that Dave had worked for IBM, but for quite a bit longer than I.  After dinner, we met again outside while walking around the hotel, and watched as the sun prepared to set.  What a beautiful scene, as the sky was almost clear!

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Near the beginning of the Dempster Highway was a roadside display describing the highway...

...Travel info was also provided.

This panel touches on some of the history of the Gwich'in People.

The beginning of the road offered nice scenery.

Even with the fog, the views were pretty.

A view of the gravel road leading into the Tombstone Mountain region.

The Nature Interpretive Centre in the Tombstone National Park.

The Dempster Highway as it winds between the mountains.

Interesting plant life was present along many sections of the road.

A short history about Tombstone Mountain.

A pretty valley through the park.

A nice mixture of colors could be seen.

More low shrubs in the southern section of the Dempster.

The clouds began to break providing spectacular views.

Driving through this area gives one a new perspective of open spaces!

There were several small lakes along the Dempster.

A view from the driver window.

A view to the east.

Another look towards the east.

Many rivers meander alongside the road.

My car getting its gravel road look!

The mountains provided the backdrop for a wonderful view of this lake.

Interesting bald mountains are seen south of Eagle Plains.

Engineer Creek, where iron oxide deposits turn the area a rust colour.

 

More interesting rock formations and mountains along the road.

The view from the driver's seat.

Another view from the car.  This view shows the road as it rides up Ogilvie Ridge.

Looking southeast from the Ogilvie Ridge overlook

Looking Northeast from the Ogilvie Ridge overlook.

From the same overlook, viewing eastward.

The post at the overlook.

I noticed the trees were taller along this part of the road.

A nice variety of colors were on display.

My car in front of this spectacular view.

 

 

 

Tomorrow I will continue along the Dempster.  I will deal with shale, which is a sharp rock that has a tendency to cut tires, that is sometimes used as the first layer during road repair.  I will have several miles of it to start, and hopefully, I will get through unscathed!  I plan on writing tomorrow from Inuvik, and may try to get a flight to Tuktoyaktuk for Thursday!  More on that tomorrow.  Thank you for visiting!

 

Routes traveled today: YT 2, YT 5

Hotel: Eagle Plains Hotel -

 

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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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