Friday, August 27, 2010

Herschel Part 1: Dempster Hwy - Eagle Plains

So let's just start from the beginning! I going to document this trip in detail, having these kind of things documented is so great and I always look back on my old blog posts - they're actually quite informative. Like the time I couldn't remember how I wrenched my shoulder? Looking back I found it was one of the first damned skijoring races I was in. Overdid it and screwed myself up. Sweet! :)

The truck is getting full. This was before we even put in Heather's stuff!

Ever look back on your pictures and wonder WHY you continue to "smile" like an idiot? Yeah, me too.

I love how Heather got in that shot in the back! You can always count on her to be there to ham for the camera! Or... maybe she's concerned and screaming at me for driving and taking a photo...

Ruh-Roh. Bridge construction outside of Carmacks.

No worries, a small delay and we were soon on our way!

Why that's some mighty fine bridge construction I must say!

Yay, bridge work! (we were happy about absolutely EVERYTHING!!)

The drive up to the Dempster corner was pretty uneventful. Except for the time where I drove over fresh paint from the line-painting dudes. Whupps!! Sorry!

The love of Heather's life!! Mother-freakin-load of Red Bull.

A welcome sight on an epic journey! Um, which we were only 500km into...

Ok, we were all excited about Red Bull. How else to stay awake on the 18hr road trip??

I think this is when "stupid hour" (a phenomenon that arises from driving long distances) occurs for the first time!

"Is this enough Red Bull to get us to Eagle Plains?!?" (they say after leaving the Dempster corner)

Yay! We're officially on the Dempster!!

The Dempster Highway! The hwy is named after Inspector William John Duncan Dempster of the RCMP. In his younger days as a corporal he was known as ‘The Iron Man of the Trail’ for his legendary dogsled journeys from Dawson City to Fort McPherson. He routinely patrolled the 475-mile (670km) area in the winters by dogseld.

The highway roughly follows the route of Dempster’s trail. He learned it from the Gwitch'in First Nation People of the region, and they learned it from their ancestors. It was their main transportation link between the Yukon and Peel river systems. The Gwitch'in floated triangular rafts down these rivers, carrying goods to barter and trade with Loucheux First Nation, and later with white traders.

The highway didn’t look like your average road then, and it doesn’t now. That’s because it’s unique in highway design and construction. It sits on top of a gravel berm to insulate the permafrost in the soil underneath. The thickness of the gravel pad ranges from 1.2 metres up to 2.4 metres in some places (four feet to eight feet!!). Without the pad, the permafrost would melt and the road would sink into the ground.

Hm, maybe they should try that method on the Alaska hwy from Burwash - Beaver Creek!

The hwy was started in 1959 and eventually finished after a few delays in 1979.

It's really hard to take a crappy picture with this scenery - Tombstone Territorial Park

I want to live here.

The ever-informative interpretive panels are everywhere.

I want to live here too.

The new Tombstone Interpretive Centre.

Tombstone definitely ROCKS!! We are definitely all making plans next summer to head up there camping and hiking.

A topic near and dear to my heart... :)

What is BERINGIA!??? The Dempster passes through mostly what was Beringia - an ice-free area during the last glaciation. The southern 70km though follow a valley containing moraines that were fed by glaciers lodged in the high peaks of the Ogilvie Mountains. The next 35 km are the Blackstone uplands which were also home to side-valley glaciers.

This is the new Tombstone Interpretive Centre. It's beautiful!

Outhouse to the right and staff cabins further down. What a nice view to wake up to eh?

Dog teams and the Lost Patrol

Northern Ogilvie Mountains

Viewing & Research area

Wildlife sightings - very cool! I am glad we didn't run into the "porcupine(big one)" on Aug. 8. But then again, with no dogs on the trip, who cares!

If you ever head up here, there is no shortage of things to do in this area - lots of hikes and other interpretive programs - check it out!

Ogilvie River - arctic grayling, northern pike and dolly varden are common in this river.

The river is named after William Ogilvie - a prominent Canadian land surveyor.

The ever-observant Stephanie: "Look! Horsies!!"

Ok, I kid, I kid. She was actually our human spotting scope for the most part - picking caribou out on the hillside from miles away!

Look at the gigantic road!!! The road was actually great - it was dry which was a bonus.

Limestone outcrops are 400 million years old and were once on the bottom of a sea. Fossil corals are evident... look but don't touch!

Giganto road

Heather soon learns nothing is sacred and everything can be recorded, even "private" privy time!!

Ok, I stopped there. Let's just say keeping hydrated on the Dempster requires a few extra pit stops.

Towers of rock protrude from the slopes, these towers are known as "Tors" - and are the product of frost shattering.

Water seeps into joints and cracks in the bedrock, then freezes and expands, forcing the rock apart. Tors are only found in unglaciated terrain.

Tor art!

Elephant rock, as seen through my camera as seen through binoculars. Old eagle-eye Steph picked it out in the distance. A reminder of the furry beasts that use to roam this area.

Nasty slide/slumping area. According to our "tour guide" there are homes around here that were wiped out by slides.

The girls at the Ogilvie lookout. I would totally live here.

According to Environment Yukon's awesome Dempster Travelogue - this is the best panoramic view on the northern fringe of the Ogilvie Mountains. The valley continues eastward for 180km's

The views - amazing!!!! Heading toward Eagle Plain is a 200-km wide area of gently rolling hills, incised here and there by the tributaries of the Ogilvie and Eagle Rivers.

More beauty, eh!?!

The obligatory outhouse view. What? Not everyone takes these???

More silliness. We were happy to be EVERYWHERE!!! Any spot we stopped was so totally exciting thus proving that yes! We all need to get out more!

Woohoo! Eagle Plains hotel!!!!


We're almost half way there!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

For my gun-loving dad

It's not his birthday, or Christmas, but boy oh boy has he been bugging me about getting out and shooting my gun. Insisting my gun skills are proficient is a must when you live in the boonies and the porcupines & squirrels may threaten to take over one day. It's what any good ol' redneck Albertan dad would do! So today was the day. Dave and Heather had an itching for some shootin' too, so we headed out to our "target range" to try out a few guns.

What did we learn today? Um... that we need more practice!

The arsenal: Dave's .402, Heather's .308, my .308, Dave's .22. My shoulder hurts from all of them except the .22 which I think is my new favourite gun because it does not hurt me.

Dave is a GREAT teacher. Just look how focused Heather is!

"This is a gun."

Dave with the .22. That thing was fun! And the best part - didn't blow out your eardrums with the noise.

Sniper move. Remember mom? When I was 16yrs old and wanted to be a sniper? You may not remember - it was a short-lived career aspiration, in between wanting to be a podiatrist and Chuck Norris. Ah, the good ol' days. What 16yr old girl dreams of anything less?

Sniper man meets grass.

Heather is almost camouflaged while sniper shooting. That board on the tree never knew what was coming. And when the bullets all zoomed past without touching it, it didn't know what was going by either! haha (I can say that because neither of us hit a thing shooting this way)

Guns. Beer. The woods = Perfect Sunday afternoon in the Yukon.

There goes Dave cocking his gun again! Show off!!!

Dave is doing this Fonzie "Ayyyy" thing and Heather is perfecting her gun-dancing routine. A one, a two... a one-two-three, kick the leg out and twirl your guns! Wheee!

Totally awesome redneck family portrait. This NEEDS to go on their living room wall.

Next time, hopefully we'll actually hit something other than beer cans 50ft away. But did we ever show those beer cans who was boss. They are totally not going to give us trouble anymore.