Road to Gold

Sleeping-in has been a bit of a luxury lately, and today we got to indulge. Enjoying a lazy morning we eventually dragged ourselves out to do some last minute errands in the afternoon before we leave.

2011-08-06-So inconsiderate when the cart stand is 5 metres away(Cellphone snap).jpgAfter the grocery store we noticed that our van was leaking a bit. We’ve been having a bit of a coolant issue lately – it has been disappearing from the radiator despite no visible cracks or leaks. Andrew also recently replaced the radiator cap and filled with more coolant yesterday but we still seem to be loosing it somewhere. There was a third drop on the pavement which seemed like oil or gas and we were concerned it was a result of our gasket change to the valve cover yesterday.

2011-08-06-uh oh (Cellphone snap).jpgThere is not much we can do, so we are just going to keep an eye on it. Our last stop was the local brewery where we grabbed a tour before heading out.

2011-08-06-Raw ingredients.jpg2011-08-06-Bottle washer.jpg2011-08-06-The hopper and mash then the kettle.jpg2011-08-06-Brewstorage.jpg2011-08-06-Canning.jpg2011-08-06-Bottled and ready for labelling.jpg2011-08-06-The Yukon Brewery assortment.jpg2011-08-06-Taste testing.jpgWe didn’t seem to leak in the brewery’s parking lot so we might be fine. We stocked up on some Yukon brew and hit the road around 5pm; the afternoon slipping quickly away from us. Our goal for today is to reach Dawson City, or something close.

2011-08-06-The Klondike Highway.jpgThe drive on the Klondike Highway was similar to what we’ve been seeing lately although there were some intermittent stretches of gravel which just seem to be a way for them not have to repair the road immediately. I’m sure the winters are rough on these roads when everyone is driving in chains and studded tires. The views make up for it though.

2011-08-06-On the road.jpgWe didn’t see all that much wildlife, but what we did see was less than typical. A fox and a porcupine both crossed our path at some point despite multiple signs warning of elk.

The drive is said to take about 5-6 hours and we made it about 6 hours and a bit, with minimal stops. We got gas at the junction of the Dempster and the Klondike highways before making the decision to start the trek up the Dempster Highway. The price of gas has steadily been increasing today as we drive.

Todays drive went something like this:
5:15pm – Leave Whitehorse with a full tank ($1.319/L)
7:00pm-  Gas in Carmacks ($1.449/L)
11:30pm – Gas at the Dempster/Klondike Junction (“closed” at 10pm but we squeaked in just before they left) ($1.629/L)

2011-08-07-Gas at junction of Dempster and Klondike.jpg12:30 am we stopped for the night by Tombstone Mountain Park Entrance (about 50 km down the Dempster)

I mentioned we decided to take a detour up the Dempster Highway – it is a 736 km dirt road leading North to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. It crosses the continental divide three times, two major rivers (Peel and Mackenzie Rivers) and the arctic circle once. The highway was completed in the late 70’s and mostly follows an old dogsled trail used in the early 1900’s by local Gwich’in peoples and the North-west Mounted Police patrols. As far as roads go, it’s the furthest north as you can possibly drive in Canada during the summer (in the winter an ice road extends the terminus to Tuktoyaktuk, NWT).

2011-08-07-Dempster highway.jpg2011-08-07-Dirt road Dempster.jpgWe could do a similar journey in Alaska on the Dalton Highway but have been told that the last town, Deadhorse, is a bit of a letdown. So with a bit of Canadian pride, and the ability to see some of the Northwest Territories and cross the Arctic Circle in the process, it was decided. We’re off to Inuvik!