I left town for my adventure today, and decided to drive up the Dempster Highway a ways. The Dempster Highway starts 40 kilometres south of Dawson City, and heads north to the Arctic Circle. There are two river crossings on the drive, and with the rivers currently thawing, the road is impassible until the ferries goes in.
What that means for me – no traffic!
Well, except this moose, who seemed really annoyed to share the quiet road.
Moose are so gigantic up here, that when I came around the corner and saw her walking along the edge of the road, I thought it was something prehistoric at first. Their legs are SO long.
She begrudgingly left the road and watched me from the forest as I drove by.
I met three trucks leaving the Dempster in my first couple of minutes, and then not another vehicle for the rest of the day, except one parked off in a clearing with a couple of people sitting on a lookout watching the world. It was so quiet and peaceful!
When I left home, the clouds were rolling over town, and it was about 12C. By the time I got up to the lookout north of the Tombstone Territorial campground, it was down to 8C.
Although quiet and peaceful, you just never know when a grizzly is going to pop up from the scrub brush, so I walked around with bear spray in my pocket (grizzly grade pepper spray!).
Didn’t see a bear all day though.
But I did see a fox! It was so cute and right by the road, but by the time I backed up to park beside it and grab the camera, it ran away. These next couple of photos I shot over my shoulder through the back passenger window.
I went up past Two Moose lake, which is only at kilometer 103. (The entire Dempster is 736 km (458 miles) up to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, and then another 138 km (86 miles) to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean.)
Two Moose Lake is where you can often spot a moose or two, but today the lake was still frozen, and a very patient seagull was standing in the middle of it, waiting for it to thaw.
I went up a few more miles to turn around at the outhouses, and then made my slow way back to town.
I wanted to find some ptarmigan. They are a funny sounding bird that behave like a grouse, but turn all white in the winter. I could hear some when I stopped, but I couldn’t find any near the road.
Until I found one on the road. I didn’t see any footprints, but because the guts were nearby, I suspect it was harvested by a human who just left the wings and guts behind and took the best part for supper.
This “highway” is never really that busy, except with summer tourists. With the ice road river crossing closed and no ferries in yet, there were no fast trucks hauling fuel or freight either.
So I could stop anywhere. In the middle of the road. Off the side. Anywhere. With no people, I may also have taken a couple pit stops myself on the side of the road. Imagine being 100 kilometres from other people! No coronavirus threat here! Just fresh air, sunshine, and lingering snow.
Then I saw another ptarmigan, and it was alive! I stopped and jumped out, and it dashed into the woods.
But I caught it watching me!!
I wish you could hear it. They made the oddest noise!
Then I stopped at a thawed pond where I had seen ducks the first time I went by. I thought I was quiet and stealthy, but the ducks didn’t agree and they all took off, every one of them.
I watched them do circles around me a couple times. I felt bad for disturbing them. They eventually landed on another pond just behind the one they were first on.
The further north I went, the thicker the snow was, but as I headed back south, there were more bushes showing through, and more water flowing in the low spots.
I love my truck. Maybe I’ve mentioned that? 😆
I took one last picture at the look off again, and headed back to town, where it is up to 16C!
I used to think if I won the lottery, I’d still go back to work, to keep doing what I loved and what I was good at. I don’t know now, I’m kinda enjoying these offline hours exploring outside. I wonder if it’ll wear off and I’ll be begging to return to work in July when this sabbatical ends. 🤔