My trip north, Part I

So here I sit in Inuvik after a road trip that has taken the better part of four days. A lot happened in those four days, so I'll start somewhere near the beginning.

When I was preparing for this trip, I packed everything I owned. Turns out I own a lot of stuff, a lot more than I had thought. By the time I was done there were boxes everywhere, more boxes, I suspected, than I would be able to take north with me.

Jeep and Trailer In Near Original Condition

My friends Ali and Robin were finishing up their vacation and then hitting the road north. Ali said he was looking for a trailer to attach behind his Jeep Grand Cherokee so we could haul some more stuff, especially heavy, hard to ship items like our plasma TV's.

When they showed up, it was pretty quickly apparent that there wasn't going to be much room. But we managed to pack my 42" plasma, computer system, clothes and my ps3. I can live with that.

But before leaving Ali was having some trouble with his new trailer. The whole thing was once a boat trailer that someone had converted into a small plywood travel trailer. Above the wheels a pair of plastic fenders were suspended on iron bars. But the fenders weren't raised high enough and were rubbing, eating the side of the tires away. In just the short trip between Smithers and Hazelton the rubbing had left the tire tread ragged.

A little back-wood ingenuity later and we used a hammer and wood blocks to bend the fender arms up and over to clear the tires. Brute force and ignorance, works every time! At least for a while...

So, after a short hang out with my parents and some lemon meringue pie we hit the road.

I'm going to skip our trip through northern BC and the early Yukon since more than half the trip was pretty much uneventful.

We made it a fair ways through the Yukon without trouble, but a few minutes after five-finger rapids Robin watched one of the fenders fly off. Apparently, the violent bending of metal with a hammer weakens it! Bah, we don't need fenders anyway do we? We didn't have anyway to re-attach it, and in the end it wouldn't have mattered, but I'll get to that somewhere in part 2.

It's worth noting at this point in the trip, we were all running off about an hour of sleep and it was starting to take its toll. I have come to the determination that Jeeps are hard to sleep in, the seats are lumpy, things are configured in a way that it just doesn't work.

We stopped in Whitehorse and Ali and Robin got a motel room. I balked at the $89 for a single room and opted to sleep in the Jeep to keep an eye on our packed trailer. This turned out to be an allergy-related mistake, apparently concentrated dog dander get's to me although not as bad as cats.

I was so tired that comfort didn't really factor into my sleep that night, nor did the cold, or my allergies. I slept like the dead.

Along the way, we had been keeping an eye on the tires that came with the trailer. They were wearing badly on the inside, so badly that the road had eaten away all trace of the tread, including the damage initially done by the fender arm. So we changed tires to a new set of 8 ply-tires that Ali had bought new for the trip, and crammed the old 6-ply ones in the trailer as spares, very poor spares after a careful examination of them. The pavement had eaten them and discolored patches had started to develop.
Original Tire (Note the chunks of fender missing even before Dempster)
Clearing Whitehorse we got back underway, praying the new tires would hold up better than the old ones. They are rated for two hundred pounds more than the old ones, which is good, because I am pretty sure that trailer was way overloaded.
New 6 Ply Badboys For The Trailer
This is where things started to get a little more "interesting".

We were just outside of Pelly Crossing when little signs and plastic cones marked bumps and potholes in the road. They were minor at first, we barely had to slow down for them.

So we are cruising along when we happen across another sign labeled innocuously with the sign for bumpy. Ali slowed down like he had for the others to around 40. It didn't even look deep until we were upon the stupid thing and it pretty much crossed the road making it impossible to dodge.

We plunged off the edge of this precipitous deathtrap, violently bottoming out the shocks on the trailer if not the Jeep. We kept a more serious respect for those signs from that point on I assure you. Everything appeared good on the trailer at that point, though I very much doubt that was the case from later events.

Some of the frost-heave on that stretch of road was ridiculous, appearing as if someone had detonated explosives underneath the pavement leaving areas of exploded black asphalt that required constant dodging.

I Swear There Must Have Been Landmines Buried Under There!
I did a few fixes and posted some pictures to Part 1, Part 2 is to follow.


mizzballou said…
happy easter jeffrey. hope youre trip went good.

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