Just got back from the Dempster Highway, and I must say I think I’ve had my share of excitement for a while. It was quite the trip, with ample bouts of joy and tragedy. Where to start? Chronologically I guess.
This fellow from Toronto was driving all over the place with his solar car, including the Dempster. I have no idea how he has been manoeuvering the road in the condition it’s in (he apparently has about 70 spare tires but has only needed four of them so far). We spent some time chatting with him before continuing our treck north, in search of cloudberries.
We did find cloudberries – more than I’ve ever seen in my life in fact. But we also found caribou…a few hundred of them. I have never had the opportunity to see a large group like that and I was so excited. They are incredibly beautiful animals. But of course they are also our winter meat, so we were up before 5 the next morning hunting. Joe got two caribou (one for us and one for the elder he hunts for) so we spent four hours skinning, cutting up and packing the meat.
Just as Joe was starting to skin the animals, an old fellow from the Northwest Territories came tearing up the tundra. I have no idea what possessed him to drive on that kind of terrain – I guess he was excited at seeing all those caribou. But of course he got stuck BIGTIME! Joe and I pushed for a while, but he wasn’t going anywhere without some major mechanical help. So we flagged down someone on the highway to go for help and we went back to dealing with the meat. It has to be taken care of quickly or the belly swells (heat from the intestines). As well, being in bear country means you don’t want to hang around with fresh meat any longer than necessary. We did see a black bear and two cubs, and another single black bear, but not in that area. We also saw a moose, but I’m getting off topic.
The caribou was packed and covered with tarp but we still wanted berries so we spent the next couple of hours picking. We left relectantly after that point, again because we needed to get the meat home. We could have picked for days and not made a dent in the patch! As it was we picked about 12 litres, then back into the truck we went for the long 12 hour drive home. We arrived in Whitehorse last night just around 11. I’m exhausted today, but a good exhausted. The Dempster Highway takes good care of us, that’s for sure! And every time I go there I am reminded that it has some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in my life.