Day 14 – Wednesday, July 8 ( Dawson to NWT border)

Dawson to NWT border

It was a cool overcast, cloudy and rainy day. The temperature started at 14 C (57F) but it went down to 4 C (40F) in the mountains where it was raining.

I had a wonderful Ham & Egg breakfast sandwich at the Bake Shop in Dawson, before leaving to take the Dempster Highway ( #5 ) to the border with the Northwest Territory. This is an unpaved road with gravel, rocks, mud and ” other ” things.

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As you can see on the sign, there are no medical facilities. It warns you to drive with care. There are no gas stations, until the Eagle Plains Hotel & Restaurant which is 370 km (230 mi) from the start of the highway so I made sure that I had enough gas.

The roads started out fairly good, with a few pot holes but there were some sections that were in bad shape. The scenery was similar to the other highways, however, as you get higher in elevation the trees are thinner and smaller and eventually there are very few trees. At the start of the Dempster, the elevation was approximately 700 m ( 2300 ft ) but the road elevation varied a lot and got as high as 1330 m ( 4400 ft ).

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After a couple of hours it started to rain and the roads got worse, but I didn’t expect to be driving through a mud bog. An area of about 10 km that was under construction for resurfacing, didn’t have any solid gravel or stone and it had become very muddy and slippery so I had to slow down, while keeping just enough speed to keep going forward. Previous cars made ruts in the road and you could see evidence of ” fish-tailing” by looking at the ruts. At one point my car start to “fish-tail” as it swerved back and forth on the road, trying to find a path, but fortunately I was able to get it back under control and I slowly continued on.

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I was seriously considering turning back because I thought the rest of the road (100 km) would be like this, but I was close to the point where I might not have enough gas to get back to Dawson. Fortunately the roads got better after a few kilometres, so I continued to the Eagle Plains Hotel. The rain stopped after an hour and the mountain scenery was beautiful.

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I stopped at Eagles Plains, filled up with gas, had some lunch and continued on my way. The roads were much better at this point although they have steep sides and no railings for protection, so I was very careful when passing oncoming traffic. I drove 34 km north (22 mi) from Eagle Plains Hotel where I arrived at the Arctic Circle.

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I left the Arctic Circle and continued north for another 60 km, until I reached the border for the Northwest Territory.

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I decided not to continue driving to Fort McPherson, but opted to turn around and head back to Eagles Plain for the night. Tomorrow I plan to drive back to Dawson, if I can get through the muddy section again. My car is so muddy that it is hard to tell what colour it really is and the bike in the back is not recognizable. It will take a lot of cleaning to remove the caked mud, however, there’s no use cleaning the car if I only have to drive through the mud again.

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I met a couple my age from Portland Oregon, who are riding their bicycles from Inuvik to Haines City. They are avid riders and they have ridden all the way down from Alaska to Washington State. I get tired just thinking of doing that.

2 thoughts on “Day 14 – Wednesday, July 8 ( Dawson to NWT border)

  1. good news there is a CARWASH available as you come of the dempster ,wonder WHY ? yep, we sure remember,quite the ride eh ? We enjoyed it….EAGLES PLAIN CAMP,was a nice stop,it sure came in handy after our westfalia had hiccup,.oh well its all part of travel the unexpected ? be safe ,enjoy this wonderfull country…
    CIAO your envious sister

  2. Wow, you sure are covering lots of territory! Looks beautiful..after the rain stops. The muddy section sounds daunting to me…hope you have made it back through safely. How did the bicycle riders navigate that section? Had to chuckle when I drove through Sturgis today, as there is a street they are repaving that is one big mud mess. One key difference, it is bordered by homes, so if someone gets stuck it isn’t like they are miles from help.
    Impressive that you reached the Arctic Circle and Northwest Territory yesterday!

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