Day 23 To Dawson City and Chores

We found a nice hidden spot to ‘bushwhack’ our last night on the Dempster

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It was a quiet spot and we got the camp set up so late there wasn’t much to do but get to bed.  The next day we woke to the sun. I let the dogs out to go potty and it was so nice outside I decided to latch the door open to let in some fresh air. .  I always make a lot of noise and take a peek around before letting them out.   Eureka and Nickel did their business and quickly came back in with the expectation of breakfast.  As I prepared their meal, I heard TinTin on the steps.  Since she occasionally has a hard time maneuvering on them, I went help her.  Oddly, despite having her two front paws on the stipes she wasn’t trying to go up but, instead,  looking over her shoulder.  I followed the path of her gaze and saw a great big Grizzly walking toward her.  It wasn’t looking menacing and, , it looked pretty calm. It still wasn’t giving off any signs of stress; not that I really know what a bear looks like when it’s stressed but the literature describes it yawn, lick their lips, etc…much like a dog.    I told TinTin to hurry up and reached around the side of the camper to get the door unlatched so I could close the door.  TinTin started to come up the stairs but decided, instead, to jump back down and face the bear.  At that point it was about 3 yards away but lumbering slowly towards us.   TinTIn gave a big bark and the bear stopped.  As soon as Eureka and Nickel heard TinTin, they too started to bark and lunged forward toward the doorway.  I blocked them with my leg while I was still reaching around to get the door with one hand and trying to haul TinTin in with the other.  The bear stood up, turned to the side and reared forward and AWAY.   It galloped off into the woods.  I wish TinTin hadn’t been out there so, maybe I could’ve watched it from the safety of the camper.  I never felt that the bear was a threat and I think it was more curious than anything.  TinTin certainly thought she was hot stuff afterward … scaring away a big brown bear!

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So enough excitement for the day.  We needed to head south and I still wanted one more hike before we were back in Dawson City (the goal for the day).

Of course We couldn’t leave without one more day of hiking.

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TinTin scaring herself

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Nickel being a goof=ball

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall colors are getting more intense

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My only chore for the day was to stop at tombstone campground and see if they found my sunglasses.  Can yo believe someone did?  It does seem ironic though, that after so many days trying to see wildlife with my myopic vision, now that we’re headed back to civilization I can see.

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Quick stop at Two Moose Lake to see migratory water fowl.  Saw two Tundra SwansIMG_3489

 

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To Dawson City

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Dirt Road…. I’ll miss you!

I picked up hitch hiker who was headed for Dawson City.  She is a young artist who spent the last 4 months at the Tombstone Campground doing some type of teaching.  She made the trip (via hitch hiking) once every 2 weeks in order to do laundry and to get groceries.  Apparently Tombstone has had more rain this year than usual and her tent has been very damp throughout the summer.  I know the feeling of a damp tent and it isn’t pleasant.  On the other hands she’s seen a great deal of wildlife and she’s done a lot of hiking.  She said it would help her art.  It was nice to have some company for a short bit.  We only have about 20 miles to get to DC.

Rain begins to come down again and I get a better understanding why there are wooden ‘side walks’ in town.  It reminds me of pictures from the old west.31c

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The library (where I can use the internet for an hour) has an elaborate ‘anti-mud’ system going….

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Those black squares are boot jacks and brushes

Lo and behold!   A Royal Mounty!!

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actually he’s just an actor for one of the tours in town

 

Chore Number ONE!…. Wash Foxy…..

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BEFORE

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AFTER

OH that felt good!!!

 Days at an end and although I hadn’t planned to stay the night I decided it was a good opportunity to get some other chores done.  It’s a nicer environment than Whitehorse and I can do my laundry and some shopping.  we take a ferry to other side of river to a provincial campground.  Sadly the one hundred campsites are packed with people.  We’re now on the Alaskan Highway that brings people to more touristed areas.  Even this time of year it seems a very popular destination.  After a quick walk along the river we call it a day… I miss the Dempster already….

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Days 21 and 22 Tundra….My Darling, I’m back!

Oh the Joy, the decadence, the gluttonous feeding of the ego to have the world to oneself…..

 

 


Mine Mine Mine


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Very old caribou antler

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Looking down the ridge that we’re following

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This area is called Eastern Beringia and From the Richardson mountains to the east, south to the coastal mountains, west to the Bering Sea and North to the Arctic Ocean (or more specifically the Beaufort Sea).

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We followed the ridge from the bottom right corner up to the left and then over and beyond the furthest bump in the distance.  These ridges are part of the continental divide (dividing the Beaufort Sea watershed from the Bering Sea watershed).  These mountains are the most northerly extent in of the North American Rocky Mountains.  To be honest I’m still a little confused about the geography of this region.  The mountain shapes and the rocky outcrops and moraine were formed by both glaciation and the upheaval caused when the continental divide was formed.  I was always under the impression that moraine was caused by glaciers but some of what I read says that these moraines were actually caused by the grinding by think ice sheets rather than glaciers.  In any case, you can see the mounds of rocks in the video above.

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Here you can easily see the up-lift

From, “The Dempster Highway Travelogue”:

 The Richardson Mountains are composed of dark shale and sandstone deposited

in a deep basin about 450 million years ago. The mountains form a narrow

line between north-trending faults. East-directed tectonic forces caused the

sedimentary rocks to buckle and uplift between these faults; a mountain range

formed during the last 50 million years. They are unique because, during the

last ice age, the climate here was too dry for glacial formation. The tip of the

Laurentide Ice Sheet was stopped by this mountain range, marking the eastern

edge of the unglaciated area.

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At the end of this video we are looking back toward the campsite where we began two days of hikes.  You can see the white spec of the camper.

  

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Moss trying to trick me!  I’m seeing antlers in everything now!  I’m obsessed….

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Antler Moss

Maybe this is a prehistoric mammoth skull!

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I think this is weather worn quartz. It was a chunk about two feet in diameter. There were smaller smooth pieces near by.

 


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The scratchy sound you hear in the background are ground squirrels.  The girls had a very good time looking for them but never came close to finding one.  The bears also like to hunt for ground squirrels.  Here’s are area where one has been digging after them

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Some plant life

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Cloud Berries

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They’re edible but I thought they tasted a bit bland and they were kind of creamy… which I didn’t like

I don’t know if the NWT locals do this but the Alaskans make ‘Eskimo Ice Cream’ out of berries. It’s made of Crisco, berries, sugar, and a “texturizer”, either boiled white fish or mashed potatoes.


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 You can see the crazy weather changing by the second.  But the Poodles don’t care… neither do I.

The dogs are looking a bit disheveled by now.  So do I, that’s why you never see pictures of me.  ha ha ha

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Eureka’s Lyle Lovett impression

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Let’s play find the poodle again…..

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Nickel says More More


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But off we go to find our last night’s stay on the Dempster Highway……

Day 13 Into the North West Territories

Waking up at Rock River Campground

Even with last night’s rain,  the truck was smothered in oily mud from the previous day’s drive.  I knocked off as much as I could, not so much for cosmetics as for functionality.  In the wheel hubs, the mud packed in so thickly it was pulling the plastic shield off the truck and in other places it hung like huge ice balls after a blizzard…. but unlike snow it was hardened and dense like cement.

 

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Into the North West Territories 

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Home of the BEST License Plate EVER!

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A short distance out of Rock River Campground we pass into the NWT.  We’re heading into an area that was made by the Laurentide Ice Sheet.  This area had ice sheets that were hundreds and thousands of feet thick and surrounded what was  called East Beringia…. The home of giant elk and bison and the great Wooly Mammoths.   I had a secret fantasy of finding a mammoth molar, oh well.  We will also be crossing the continental divide for the third time.

Our first stop:  Tundra

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We drove through about 20 miles of Tundra until I found a spot that looked just right for hiking.

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One of the effects of permafrost are these odd little ‘ponds.’  They are crystal clear and mostly free of debris.  I think the moss acts as a natural filter.  The tundra is a mix of lichens, mosses, dwarfed birch and Tamarack, berries and grass tumocks interspersed with rocky outcrops and ‘ponds.’

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bear sighting

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Although it makes for poor photography, this is the distance I prefer to be from a bear!  It was probably a 1 mile away.  Solution to the sighting?  We just hiked in the opposite direction.

This is the exact reason that walking in this area is so appealing.  It’s not great for seeing Caribou though.  They’ll see us long before we see them and in that case,  we’ll never see them.

 

One of my hopes was to find an antler.  During several Kayak trips in Alaska I was lucky enough to find some.  During Phil and my trip down the Noitak River (on the North Slope)  I found an entire rack.  It was in the river with the top part of the skull attached.  It probably came from an unfortunate Caribou who didn’t make it across the rough river.  In any case it was Huge; probably around 5 feet in circumference.  I wasn’t about to leave it behind so I made Phil strap it to the bow of our double kayak.  I was quite impressed with my trophy until we capsized in a ‘sweeper’ and the antlers nearly drowned Phil.  The boat was sucked into the roots and debris on the banks of the rapids and pulled underwater.  I pulled out of the kayak but as Phil pulled out, the antlers caught his pants and pulled him down with the boat.  It took all my strength to pull myself out of the water as the current pulled me into the roots along the bank.  As soon as I regained my composure I started shouting for Phil.  I saw him down stream, standing on the bank, holding a paddle and stripped naked.  By some miracle the boat resurfaced about a 1/4 mile away and we were able to collect most of our dry bags.  We still had ten days of travel by boat.  Had we had to walk, it would have been quite miserable.  In any case, I lost my antlers.

 

There was definite evidence of caribou in the area….

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Portion of a hoof

Continue reading

Day 12 Wolves and the Arctic Circle

Wildlife Groupnot including domestics Number of species in Yukon
known as of September 2007
Amphibians (i.e. frogs and toads) 4
Fishes (not including salt water species) 36
Mammals (not including humans 66
Birds 227
Butterflies 92
Large Moths 286
Dragonflies 40
Spiders 300+
Insects total species 6,000+
Mosses 400+
Vascular Plants (i.e. not including mosses, liverworts, hornworts or algae) 1,242

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Day 12 From Engineer Creek CG to Rock River CG

 

The first part of the day took us through twisted hilly areas of old burned Boreal forest

(In Alaska we called it Taiga forest)

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miles muddy of road

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and into a world unto itself

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Our goal for the day:

From the beginning of the Arctic Circle to As Far As One Can Drive in Canada

 

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Not quite Tundra yet

 

Even here you’ll find evidence of men marking their territory

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As Nickel discovers Caribou remains (again)IMG_2860

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Note where TinTin is looking …..

 

Wolves discover us 

 

 

Heading North we hit more rain which meant more mud.  This mud was a slick and oily substance that stuck to the car and made the traveling treacherous.  IMG_2880 IMG_2883

For about 30 miles it was like driving on black ice and slush that forced us to slow down to 10-20 miles an hour.

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The driving was wearisome but once past it we had traveled over another pass and to drier terrain.   It was time for another break.

This hike took us out to the Tundra.  I am in love with hiking here.  It is abundant with plant life and if you take the time, bend down, and study you are welcomed into a miniature world of color and texture.

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By late afternoon we reached our goal of Rocky River Campground.  Apparently a routine has been established; we headed out to the river to have a look around.

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Like Engineer Creek, this one was bathed in iron deposits making the rocks red.

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IMG_2993Our campsite was a lovely grassy spot nestled in a grove of poplar and birch.  Of course there were a few mushrooms to be found

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Shaggy Manes… we’ll see more of these later!

 

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The only other people in here was a mother and son.  He was about 8 yrs old and told me that his goal was to find a caribou antler.  I told him is was one of mine too….

Day 11 Second Day on the Dempster

Day 2 at Tombstone

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We woke up to another clear day, and with the blue sky came chilly temperatures.

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The Poodles and I chose a ridge hike for the day and it provided an incredible view of the valley.  I was able to see up the river that we’d hiked the day before.

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Half way up the trail I realized that I’d lost my sunglasses (which happened to be the only prescription glasses I have with me). Searching for them, I walked the first section of the trail three times to no avail… and the poodles were no help! With no other choice, I gave up the hunt and decided to continued up. Hopefully someone will find them leave them at the trail head.  My eye sight isn’t too bad and since I’m not driving after dusk, it shouldn’t be a problem.  Only disappointment is that I won’t be able to see any wildlife from a distance…. I also forgot to bring my binoculars.

 The trail led up through a rocky outcrop and onto a secondary summit.

queen of the hill

Can you find the poodles?

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The main summit was surrounded by scree making it impossible to attempt but the end of the trail was beautiful. It was a mixture of rocky outcrops

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and barren alpine scrub.IMG_2793

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funky mushroom

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alpine blue berries

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and

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‘Dr Suess’ plants….

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When we finally hit the (false) summit, there was just the lightest breeze and the sun was strong.

It felt good.

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Another successful day of hiking and we returned to the camper. I planned on a long drive today.  We’re headed to Engineer Creek Campground.  With the road in such poor condition it will be a short distance covered by many hours of driving.  We’ll be in Tombstone park for several days so I won’t be camping off the road. There are a number of campgrounds and I”ll be taking advantage of them for the next few nights.

The drive was a bit surreal.  The mountainsmoon looked like a moonscape sprinkled in lichen.

 

We arrived in the late afternoon with a threat of showers so we set out to explore the environs.  The campground was in a small gorge made of tall scree slopes.

 

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The creek, however, was bright orange due to the high level of iron in the water.  The rocks were stained with rust.

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The day turns to rain by about 6pm. The new campsite is dark and dreary and we’re parked in a huge a puddle of mud. After that quick exploration of the small river/large creek running past the campsite we settle in for the night.

Poodles are quite content to call it a day.

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