We had skipped all the geocaches hidden near the road coming into Inuvik so planned to find some of them on the way back to Eagle Plains. We were on Northwest Territories time which is an hour ahead of BC and the Yukon. Since today was just going to be a driving day once we found the geocaches we wanted, we slept in a bit and left town at 9:30. It started to rain, stopped after a short while, but we were under cloudy skies pretty much all day. There also was a smokey haze for most of the trip. We couldn’t smell it, but everything had a bluish cast. We were told it was probably coming from fires in Alaska.The last geocache we stopped to find out of Inuvik was at a boat launch at Gwin’ich Territorial Park and this little bunny was waiting to greet us. We encountered one of the calcium trucks this morning. The highway maintenance crews lay a coat of calcium on the road, then soak it with water to spread it over the whole surface, and then the calcium abosorbs moisture out of the air and keeps the road surface dust free. Unfortunately, it also makes the dirt being lifted by the tires very wet and it does not dry, so you don’t want to lean against the sides of the truck or you will get calcium loaded mud on your clothes. The patterns created by the mix of bushes and rocks that stream up the mountain side is so very interesting. Everything looks different when you come at it from the opposite direction. The vegetation lines look like a plowed farmer’s field.
As we crossed the Vittrekwa Valley we passed two graders working on the road heading northward. About a quarter of a mile behind the graders we came across a big white dog running down the middle of the road. His tongue was hanging out and he looked exhausted. I immediately thought he belonged to one of the grader operators and was trying to catch up.
Not very far down the road from the dog we saw this nice healthy fox. I was still fretting about the poor dog, so John turned the truck around and we went after him. When we caught up with him again he was just trotting along, not looking nearly so worn out as he had 10-15 minutes ago. He would not come near me and headed off into the bushes. We surmised he is probably feral and used to living out in the wilderness. He had no collar or tags at any rate. Hopefully he is okay.
The Wright Pass takes you through the Richardson Mountains. The stitched photo below shows the scenery behind the monument. I had seen this very red rock on the far-off mountain as we drove up to Inuvik but it was on John’s side of the vehicle so I couldn’t get a good photo of it until we came back down. We were about 100 km from Eagle Plains and the tire sensor light came on. John had checked the tires before we left Inuvik and wondered if one of them was getting low, so he immediately pulled over to check and, sure enough the left rear was flat. After 1,100 km (683 miles) of gravel roads we got a flat! New tire on and ready to go again.There are two sections of highway along the Dempster that are designated as emergency runways for planes. There is also a gravel runway that is parallel to the road on the section between Eagle Plains and Mile 0 outside of Dawson City. There are red-tipped stakes on both sides of the emergency road sections with wind socks off to the side.
There were the same names over and over on many of the logs for the geocaches we found. Someone who goes by Turtle61 was on the same journey about two weeks before us and found many of the same caches. I was looking at the map before we left Inuvik and discovered a brand new cache had been approved the day before. It had been hidden by Turtle61 and was about 40 km north of Eagle Plains. We thought we had a good chance of being the first to find it and we were correct. The cache was hidden under one of these signs at a little pullout. We also received our fourth rock chip in the windshield on this day. Every one of them has been caused by an oncoming motorist who is either unaware of the ‘driving courtesy code’ for gravel roads, or doesn’t care. John always drives closer to the edge of the road and slows down when meeting another vehicle. This reduces the chance of throwing up rocks into the other car’s windshield. When we pass another vehicle he stays in the opposite lane for quite a distance before pulling back into our own lane again for the same reason. Thankfully there is very little traffic up here so you are not in danger of causing any accidents by slowing down or staying in the wrong lane.
We arrived in Eagle Plains at 5 pm Yukon time (6 Northwest Territories time), so even with having to change the tire we made pretty good time.