Dempster Highway Part One: The Berries

Joe and I share a passion for cloudberries (those on the East Coast will know them as bakeapples). We love these berries so much we are prepared to make an annual trek of several hundred kilometres north to the Dempster Highway to find them. Actually, the last two years Joe has had to go alone, since I had to stay behind and deal with running kids around. However this year we deemed them old enough to fend for themselves, so early on Friday morning we packed up the truck and headed north.

The Dempster is an amazing part of the world. In fact I think it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The ‘highway’ is actually a 735 kilometre dirt road leading to Inuvik, with only one gas station/restaurant between the start of the road and Fort McPherson in the Northwest Territories. Extra gas and spare tires are definitely a must for this trip.

This is a photo taken at Tombstone…about an hour in from the start of the road. There are cloudberries in this area, but the best spots we found are another four hours drive north. It took some searching, but Joe spotted an open area that was laden with them. We picked and picked until our backs gave up in protest. I’ve never seen such a bumper crop before.

The elders here have taught us that if we take something from the land, we need to give something back. Typically that something is tobacco. But since we didn’t have any handy, I left some cherries, and Joe left some Old Dutch tortilla chips with sea salt and a hint of lime. I’m hoping that the Creator has a sense of humour!

Tomorrow, Part Two of our Dempster Trip….Watch for the Signs.


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