After morning coffee and tea along the bank of Lake Laberge – without doubt this is the best morning view I have ever experienced, we set out to navigate some of the Dempster Highway. No Alaska adventure would be complete without at least partially exploring one of the last great gravel roadways. We stopped one last time on the Klondike Highway to get gas and a giant cinnamon roll at the Braeburn Lodge – seriously, a cinnamon roll as large as a frying pan. It will be breakfast tomorrow, too.
Not only do you want to make sure your tanks are full, you want to make sure you are not going to have any medical emergencies…as we started on mile zero, we found this sign:
229 miles (369 km) with no services. Really. Nothing. As far as the eye can see, nothing. The ‘highway’ is a gravel road that twists and turns with narrow shoulders and beauty in every direction. This road will take you all the way to the Arctic Ocean (Beaufort Sea) in Canada via the village of Inuvik in the Northwestern Territories.
As we drove down the road, Jorge reminisced about the times he used to help his neighbors (Aldolf and Corrine lived in the house across the street from Makaya for years) prepare for their annual Alaska vacation. Back then, Adolf installed a wire mesh across the front windshield to prevent it from breaking as they drove down these highways…loose gravel presented dangerous possibilities. Today, the gravel is still there, but very well packed. This Canadian highway is nicely maintained. You must drive with caution, be prepared, and watch for narrow sections, but this is a spectacular drive. The views are picture-perfect!
We camped at the Tombstone Mountain campground and were so happy that we have Tepui roof top tent. While we sipped Jameson and chowed down on millet and veggie stir fry, we watched a couple set up camp the old fashioned way – empty the car to hunt for the tent stakes, sleeping pads, and camp stove, set up the tent only to find that the ice had melted and the food in the cooler was floating, and realize that the rainfly had ripped. With our new fridge/freezer and what has now become a very quick Tepui set-up, we are camping in style! We actually had time to sit by the fire and write tonight. (I will post some pictures of the truck and its amenities when we get to Fairbanks…)
Day 7 – 309 miles…driving down the Dempster, looking for moose.