The Arctic Circle
Deep into the winter at south pole, my buddy Steve mentions this trip he wants to take up past the Arctic Circle in Canada. He had driven part of it during a summer spent in Alaska, and wanted to go back in winter/spring to drive the "ice road" of the Mackenzie River.
So, in March, 2002, we flew into Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and rented a giant diesel pickup. We drove the Klondike Highway to Dawson City, where we picked up the Dempster Highway, a 460 mile unpaved road ending in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. That's as far as the road goes. In the winter, the Mackenzie River freezes up and can be driven on--they post weight ratings at all the "on ramps", and we were passed by several semis during our trip. It is a strange thing to just turn and drive down a river bank and drive along a river. The delta opens up into the Arctic Ocean, and the "road" (this is an officially maintained government road, just like I-90) goes out onto the Ocean before heading into the town of Tuktoyaktuk, which is at about 70 degrees north. We stayed there for a few nights, then turned around and drove home. The Dempster doesn't have a lot of stops on it--it is posted, in fact, that there are no services for nearly 400 km--an entire tank of gas for most cars. The lone stop in the middle is Eagle Plains, a sort of outpost in the middle. Having just spent a year at pole, Steve and I fit right in.
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