Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 5 - Dempster Highway, Yukon

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Wow. It was another one of those places that, if you ever get the chance, you simply must see. It was a day of amazing beauty and feeling very small.


The highway runs from the Klondike Highway, just outside of Dawson City, to Inuvik in the north west corner of the Northwest Territories. It is 700 km of dirt road that has a reputation of being very hard on vehicles. If you are going to make the entire journey you should carry extra cans of gas and at least 2 full size mounted spare tires. Some of the upper sections have a lot of shale which is very sharp and just shreds tires.



There is only one place, about halfway, that is much of anything, let alone having any services.

There is Tombstone Yukon Territorial Park centered about 70 km up the road with lots of mountain views. We went about 100 km up the road to get a view of the vast flat tundra. The road as far as we went was excellent. It was smoother than the main paved highway and you could easily do the 90 kph speed limit if you didn’t mind the ping of small rocks on the underside of your car.

The first 30 km is mostly forest but then the mountains come into view.


It was partly sunny and a little bit hazy so some of the long distance pictures are not a clear as I would have hoped. We got a few rain showers but we don’t mind because they make for some dramatic skies.


We arrived at the new, super green, solar panel powered and wood stove heated interpretive center and looked at all the exhibits.


The ranger gave Jennie some tea made from a local plant.


We the did a short hike beside the North Klondike River from the campground nearby. We were going to do a longer one later but somehow we never got around to it.



Then we drove onwards, up to the main viewpoint in the park.


Tombstone Mountain is the peak 20 km off in the distance.

We took a small dirt road to a trailhead and microwave tower that was a bit higher and had lunch.


Looking back down towards the park center.



Looking onward where the road continues north.


At one point the road crossed the river and there were still huge blocks of ice at the edges so we stopped and climbed down to investigate.


They don’t look big until you get a size comparison.


Look for Jennie’s little red hat.


Lots of great blue green cracks and crevices which don’t seem to show up very well in the pictures.



We found this one very interesting spot where the ice looked solid but if you dug your hand in, it was made of all these 3 inch long thin crystals.




Onward and the river valley starts to get wider and wider.


and for us, finally very flat.


You feel very insignificant driving along here. By the way, all day we probably saw 10 other vehicles.


We got as far north as a place in the park called Two Moose Lake. I think we will only be a bit farther north once we get to Fairbanks, Alaska.



It looked like rain back in the south but once we got there it had passed.



The CRV really needs a wash but we are towing it over the dirt Top of the World Highway tomorrow so we will wait.


Time for some more astronomy pictures. Today the planet Venus passed between us and the Sun. It is called a Transit Of Venus. This will not happen again until the year 2117. Once we were back at the RV, I snapped pictures through my telescope each time the sun came from behind the clouds. The other specks on the sun are sunspots.

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