Something Different - Across the Arctic on the Dempster Highway -Video

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 23:25
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This video follows our September 2012 trip from Dawson City in the Yukon across the Arctic Circle to Inuvik in the North West Territories. 736 kilometres of dirt road built on the permafrost, temperatures dropping as low as minus 15C and bucket loads of snow made for an interesting trip, especially for a bunch of Aussies who's idea of a bad day is +10C!! Thanks to Suzette and Gaby for their video (and educational narration ;-) and photos. If you look carefully, you'll see that even the Yukon has a dingo problem (he follows us everywhere!).





The Dempster Highway, also referred to as Yukon Highway 5 and Northwest Territories Highway 8, is a Canadian highway that connects the Klondike Highway in the Yukon to Inuvik, Northwest Territories on the Mackenzie River delta. During the winter months, the highway extends another 194 km to Tuktoyaktuk, on the northern coast of Canada, using frozen portions of the Mackenzie River delta as an ice road (the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road). The highway crosses the Peel River and the Mackenzie Rivers using a combination of seasonal ferry service and ice bridges.

The highway begins about 40 km east of Dawson City, Yukon on the Klondike Highway and extends 736 km to Inuvik, NT.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 00:19

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 00:19
Good stuff Mickey!
Two small points, that poor squirrel must be freezing his nuts off :)
And I thought bears hibernated during the winter?

P.S
Lucky poor Vikki didn't disappear forever into that snow drift when you pushed her over ya beast!!! :)

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Follow Up By: Mick O - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 07:40

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 07:40
Yes, he was cold and so were we! You should have heard "Bear Bait" whinge about being outdoors in a tent. What a softy. The thing to remember is that we are here in early September, the first weeks of autumn John. Real winter doesn't start until December...three months away! Bears are out trying to stack on as much body weight as possible for the coming hibernation. They'll put their heads down sometime in latish November I believe.

Cheers

Mick
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 16:32

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 16:32
"Not yet winter" of course, as I smack my forehead with my palm!
Still bloody cold for Autumn mate.
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 17:14

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 17:14
DOH!!! (They're up the top of the world remember)

;-)

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Follow Up By: Member - Alan K (QLD) - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 19:34

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 19:34
MickO, you tell porkies, my complaint was about you soft c#*cks sitting in your heated vans, locked away from the outside world whilst I braved the Arctic conditions (and the bears)....in a tent......with the scales in the double digit minus no less. You need a can of harden the hell up ol son!...or one of Scotties special cans of Chilli.
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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 06:48

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 06:48
Gday
How good is that , you ice road trucker you.....and bears do excrete in the woods by the look of it..


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Follow Up By: Mick O - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 07:36

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 07:36
and so do we when seeing Mr. Bear!

;-)
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 13:39

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 13:39
Many thanks, Mick. Usual high class presentation!

Had a couple of questions? What sort of 2-way's were you using? What speeds would you have been doing during the video(no, I'm not going to take you to task about it :-))) Also, do they spread salt on the highway? Noticed the mud spray on the F trucks, and wondered about corrosion, in long term.

Interesting country, and the video saves me getting my "bits" frozen,

Nice tackle, by the way:-)

Bob.



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Follow Up By: Mick O - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 17:13

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 17:13
G'day there Bob,

mate they were UHF CB radios (Canadian/US models). Speed 15-60 kph. Mostly in the 30-40kph. Drove to conditions depending on slush or frozen.

No salt used on the Dempster. They only use it on Bitumen or sealed surfaces. The Dempster is actually built on top of the permafrost so they rely on the road surface to insulate the ground beneath. Should the permafrost thaw, the entire region would turn to boggy marsh and the road would sink into the ground...entirely. We passed one area where that had happened and they had to divert the road, let it freeze again before then insulating it with road base. Amazingly technical.

At Dawson city, they could not access the placer gold from the soil because it was frozen solid all year round. In the end they melted the permafrost with steam and hot water jetted from pipes hammered into the soil in front of floating excavators. The excavators had to be barge like lest they sank into the soil once it was thawed.

Because the North West Territories are reliant on the revenue generated by mining concerns across the region, the Dempster is kept open 24/7 365 days of the year by work crews based every 70 km along the highway. Yes conditions can be amazingly harsh but even in the worst of blizzards, the truckers are hauling and the road crews are there and working to keep them rolling. This is considered the most remote and harsh road in the Americas, The Canning of Canada...We think of the Gary, Gunbarrel, Gary Junction, Tanami, GCR and Canning and quietly smile to ourselves. bleep it was cold though! Yeah and did I mention their version of a Koala. Looks cute but is the size of a small car and has VERY BIG TEETH!

Rust is always an issue with vehicles bought in cold weather climates in the US and Canada. Our rigs originated from Toronto so they were quite salt affected (read rust there).

Cheers mate. Mick
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 21:39

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 21:39
Thanks for the detailed info, Mick. Very interesting.

If that's Autumn, think I'll pass on Khristmas on the Klondike :-)

Was always intrigued by that area after reading Scrooge McDuck comics as a kid, and seeing a doco once, of would-be prospectors clambering up a steep pass, probably on way to the Yukon.

Wonder how many of those early pioneers ended up as bear poo? Also reminds me of the poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee"

Thanks again, Mick.

Bob.



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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 10:56

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 10:56
"Wonder how many of those early pioneers ended up as bear poo?"

Very, very few I would think. Contrary to the myths/stereotypes some like to perpetuate, bears are not aggressive predators that automatically attack humans on sight.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 19:05

Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 19:05
Looks like so much fun Mick - if only aussie land didn't have so much to explore we'd get out overseas more.

Makes the 2 inch of snow I managed to find recently look like a joke , mind you I found some ruts that those snow trucks wouldn't like a lot.
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Reply By: Member - Kiwibound eventually - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 13:45

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 13:45
Thank you Mick O for sharing this video which we loved watching. We are in the early stages of planning a trip to the USA and CANADA for a few months next year and Peter spoke with you by 'phone late last year. We also plan on purchasing a truck camper for our exploring.
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