the way there

DSC_2088bwDSC_2093peace riverIMG_4181liard hotspringsIMG_4191watson lakeIMG_5269smarctic char c/o tylerDSC_2105the following photos were all taken along the dempster (with the exception of the last photo and the weather forecast – that was inuvik)DSC_2140DSC_2125DSC_2133DSC_2163“this is probably better than a reptile petting zoo” – emmaDSC_2147IMG_1709 DSC_2185 DSC_2184 DSC_2179*notice the weather forecast is for “night”

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begin the 6 hour wait for our first ride southIMG_5373smIMG_5378smhome-sweet-warmth for those foolish people who left their warm things in the storage lockerIMG_4216rock creekIMG_4217emma doing one of her favourite thingsIMG_4221DSC_2189 IMG_4230origdriving to the put-in. hwy 77.IMG_1734june 8. winnipeg to maidstone, sk. journal excerpt.

i decided i should write a book called “road-tripping with emma”. emma suggested it be a children’s book and i think that’s a good idea. she hula hoops, on the roadtrip. and she just said: “i don’t know what’s up with my left leg. the rest of my body says ‘i looooooove yoooooooouu’, and i’m like ‘i looove yoooooouuu too’, but my left leg’s just not with the program.”

june 9. maidstone to fort st.john, BC. journal excerpt.

totally forgot to write anything about yesterday other than my emma book. it’s midnight and there’s still light in the sky to see by. i love that. had a blast with emma tonight driving into fs.j at 11pm, both of us overtired probably, talking in accents and everything throwing us into fits of giggles.

june 8-june 21

so, in my excitement to post photos of the canoe trip, i neglected the way there. the cheapest way we could figure to do this trip was to drive all of our stuff to fort nelson, BC, where we left it at bonnie and jacks storage lockers. after that we drove ourselves and a minimal amount of stuff (what we’d need for the way back to FN) up to inuvik. once leaving the car there with our sweet hosts jane and don, and spending a few internet-laden days looking for both a way to ship 2 of our 3 food barrels ahead to fort simpson, and trying to track down a ride south back to FN, we finally left. we’d put up posters in the post office and campground, and gone to check out possible rides jane had suggested to us, but nothing panned out. a postie at the PO said her boyfriend was heading south in the next few days, and we were able to have an ongoing, sometimes encouraging, conversation with him via In-Reach texting, but it never worked out. we had booked greyhound tickets from whitehorse to FN for friday at 6pm, so we thought leaving wednesday morning would give us plenty of time. well. our hitching day started at 830 am, and we didn’t get our first ride til 230pm. ha. i was really convinced hitching the dempster would be a breeze. lionel of the recycling place picked us up, and we were glad to see him because he was one of the people we’d been told could give us a potential ride. he was great, but unfortunately was only going til fort macpherson, about 1.5hrs. after him we got a ride with locals for 8k or so to the campground where we used the loo’s and had a snack. after that we accepted a ride with mike, a trucker. we later dubbed him creepy mike and were happy to find an excuse to get off the truck a couple of kilometers later, on the ferry crossing the peel river.  he didn’t do anything but he was giving both of us creepy vibes. after him we were pretty ecstatic to be waiting in the evening sunshine after having waited in the rain all morning. eventually we were picked up by bertha, reuben and jessica of alberta. they were great, bertha was the grandma, reuben was the grandson and jessica was his girlfriend [auto-correct wanted me to write ‘reindeer’ instead of ‘girlfriend’]. we were told that driving the dempster highway was on bertha’s bucket list, so they had all rented this rv together to do so. emma and i later wondered if picking up hitchhikers was also on bertha’s bucket list. we all drove to the rock creek campground and emma and i set up the tent inside the picnic shelter to have a cozy night with the woodstove. i hadn’t realized how cold it would be up here (still snow on the ground on the drive through the mountains), so left a lot of my warm clothes in the storage locker. i had to buy long jons in inuvik. the next day we were up again early-early, mainly to not have to pay for camping, and hung out on the road for a couple of hours before a vehicle came by. we got super excited when we heard the first truck coming until we realized it was the scania. we’d seen them at the campground in inuvik and asked them if they were heading south, but they said they were taking their time and would probably be going too slow for us. they only opened a very high-up window to talk with us, so we kind of figured they didn’t really want to get involved. then when we were waiting for a ride after the peel river, they drove up and we’d waved at them happily, thinking for sure they would stop and pick us up now that we were on the same schedule. but nope, they kind of averted their eyes and kept going. so today, when we realized it was them, we put our arms down and started dejectedly walking to our bags when they surprised us by stopping! well, we were stoked. not only did we already know them and trust the feelings we had gleaned of them (they were a youngish couple from switzerland), but they were driving the scania (reminiscent of this)! oh did we want to see what this behemoth looked like inside. we learned this couple was on extended leave from their regular life, and if i remember right were on a long tour of north and south america. the scania did not disappoint. just the cab alone seemed to be bigger than my bedroom. the seats had their own shocks, the view from so high up was stellar, the music they played got our groove on, and they stopped at any opportune picture-taking spot. we learned that they might take hundreds of photos a day and spend several hours each evening culling them. from then on, every time we wanted to look at our photos on our digital cameras we’d call it “scania-ing”. as in, “are you going to scania now?” or “don’t scania without me!”. they eventually let us off at eagle plains, going slightly out of their way to do so, as they’d planned to camp a little ways back. we sat around for about half an hour waiting for the next ride when they pulled up again. they had decided not to camp and offered us a ride a bit further, but we hemmed and hawed not sure if we should wait for a long ride. it was really nice of them to stop again and though we opted to wait, it was nice to part ways with them feeling happy with the turn our relationship took. shortly after they left we got our next ride with bjorn and barbara of germany. they were VERY sweet, but spoke only minimal english, so we didn’t converse too much. for the life of us we couldn’t pronounce bjorn’s name correctly, so for the next two months anytime we couldn’t say anything correctly we’d go off on saying ‘bjorn’ foolishly over and over, much to our simple amusement. our ride with b & b was lovely and they let us off at engineer ck campground where they were going to stay for the night, saying that our taxi would be leaving in the morning if we didn’t get a ride that night. so sweet they were! luckily for us we did manage to get a ride about an hour later, with a couple of locals from whitehorse. i think it was early evening at that point and they decided they were going to go straight on to whitehorse. yay! well, except for the fact that they were drinking and not eating. ha! i failed to notice this right away, but when i did it seemed very moderated and he seemed very in control of his driving, so i wasn’t too worried. talking with emma later turned out she was a bit concerned about this, whereas i was more concerned about them taking us off into the bush and killing us (that’s just me and hitchhiking in general though, they weren’t that sort of people). so we had our bases of worry covered, but i kept feeding them jerky whenever it seemed he (our driver) was getting drowsy, helping him stay awake and not drinking on an empty stomach. after 8 rides and 42 and a half hours we made it safely to the campground in whitehorse at 3am. phew! enough time to sleep a little and then do some whitehorse shopping before getting on the bus!

the bus ride was uneventful and a shorter twelve hours than we expected. i think we both intended to get a lot more done on the bus, like writing and reading, but more sleeping happened than anything. we arrived in fort nelson promptly at 6am, which brings me back around to this post, and then onto the beginning of the river, way back here. with us being a little concerned about our wee delay, bonnie and jack were so sweet and kind and wonderfull, and drove us to the fort nelson river put-in at the hwy 77 bridge, cutting off 3 days from our original plan to put-in on the muskwa river in fort nelson.

there it is, that was our summer. it is one of the most amazing things i’ve ever done, and probably the most incredible place i have ever been. and, oh, do i plan to go back.

.

header and photos 5, 17 & 18 by emma.

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