My trip north, Part 2

I know it's been a while. Thing have taken a while to set up, but I am comfortably settled in now so I'll start making some regular posts beginning with Part 2 of my trip.

So where were we?

Giant monster pot-holes (bumps) in the highway, missing fenders... wait, did I mention the wildlife?

I can't remember the exact tally, but we seen a lot of animals on this trip, mostly owls, a few foxes, two lynx, and a cinnamon grizzly bear. More on some of those later.

Five Finger Rapids (Yukon)

The trailer was a constant worry during the trip. We were unsure it would hold together for the first half, let alone a trip up the Dempster, a 700+ kilometer dirt highway notorious for ever-changing road conditions, tire shredding sections of shale roadbed, avalanche zones, mud slides, ice and who knows what else.

This Sign Marks The Beginning Of The Dempster

When we finally reached the Dempster we were apprehensive about the likely hood of the trailer surviving the trip. As mentioned above, the Dempster is notorious for being hard on vehicles, and even more so on trailers as people would tell us later as they laughed at the fact we even made it. In my opinion, it's not that the road is always particularity rough for gravel (although I hear it can be), but the distance one must travel is unusually long for a non-paved stretch of highway all but forcing travelers to maintain as close to highway speeds as possible if they don't want to spend extra days driving. I've been on worse stretches of  gravel road, but at low speeds, and over a much, much shorter distance.

Anyhow, continuing our story we stopped and gassed up at the last station and headed out. Looking at the well-packed and maintained dirt road I thought, "Well this doesn't look so bad, at least not yet." It's worth mentioning at this point that Ali filled up an extra jerrycan up with gas in case we couldn't get any at Eagle Plains, and its a good thing he did.

So we set out on the Dempster, the beginning was nice, like many other back country roads I have been on all over BC. I was surprised by how much the snow had melted already this far north.

About this time, and only a few kilometers up the road, the back window of the Jeep imploded with a loud "pop", showering the poor dogs in the back with sugar-glass. It's a good thing I packed duct-tape, two rolls of it in fact. It was a little sobering and after we whipped up a duct tape window, packed inside with a tarp and a blanket to keep out the road-dust we continued, musing about what had caused the glass to just magically blow up. It wasn't until later we figured out what the culprit was, rocks kicked up by the rear tires of the Jeep bounced off the trailer and ricocheted back.

Duct Tape Window

Stress level were definitely elevated as we continued the trip, suddenly wondering what other unthought of accidents would blindside us further ahead.

 The higher up area in the Dempster are amazing, pictures do not do the massive expanse of valleys and mountains justice. The sheer scale is jaw-dropping at times.

 We weren't much farther down the road when a startling sound came from the trailer behind us. The tell-tale sound of "clunk, clink, clink, clink, shhhhhhhhhhhhhh", like something breaking loose and dragging echoed from behind us.

Attached to the trailer's central beam two stabilizer rods were welded, at least until one of them decided to break free, we suspect weakened or cracked by the "bump" we encountered earlier. Turning to some good old redneck ingenuity Ali wound some of the bailing-wire given him by my dad around the rod re-attaching it to the pieces of the suspension it had broken off of.

Note The Condition of The Remaining Fender
We continued up the road at a slow pace, Ali wanted to get there in one piece slower than in many pieces fast, plus the window thing has us kind of rattled.

"clunk, clink, clink, clink, shhhhhhhhhhhhhh", there goes the other stabilizer. Ali refined his technique and we were on our way again.

Soon enough, the first one broke again. We fixed it, but when the other side broke again Ali decided they just needed to go. We ripped them off and continued on our merry way. They weren't doing anything anyway were they? We also noticed that the rocks were eating the remaining plastic fender.

Worried about the trailer, we slowed down even more. Crawling up the Dempster for around 15 hours and passing through some amazing terrain.

Sweeping High Country
Early in the morning we crept into Eagle Plains where everything was still closed. Exhausted we slept in the parking lot for a few hours until people started to move around outside. Almost to the arctic circle by this point, I noticed that it never truly got dark, just dimmed to a glow on the horizon. I snapped this picture just as the sun began to rise over the parking lot.
Eagle Plains Sunrise

We'll finish the journey in Part 3, I'll try to get it online faster than I did with this entry.


Anonymous said…
sounds like it was lots of fun lol
Jeff D. Jones said…
Hell's yah, stressful but fun!

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