Monday, July 20, 2009

Yukon Trip 2009 - Day 15 Part 1 - To Eagle Plains

So the evening before had found us at Engineer's Creek Campground....a place we had pretty much to ourselves until about 11 pm when a group of cyclists arrived and proceeded to, very noisily, set up camp in the kitchen shelter which wasn't too far away from our camper. They then continued to 'party' into the not so 'wee' hours of the morning. Ernie forgave them somewhat, when the girls in the party went down to the river and then proceeded to wander around topless....remember it never really gets dark here! I guess we got even by getting up at 6 am and idling the diesel engine while hauling up the electric jacks. The weather had clouded over during the night and was actually showering as we pulled out of the campsite - just enough to settle the dust.

The first 25 km or so were through a very scenic canyon with the road winding along beside the Ogilvie River. Unfortunately the drizzle persisted and it was a little too dark for pictures until we came to this interesting mountain....
This mountain made up of shale and broken rock is called 'Churchwood Hill' although the Gwich'in people call it Beaver House Mountain - legend has it that a giant beaver occupied this mountain during Beringa.
There are supposed to be Peregrine Falcon nests on this mountain......

This view looks back along the highway.......

We didn't see any falcon nests but there were some wildflowers, like these yellow 'Dwarf Arctic Butterweed' - this is the only place we saw this particular plant......

and this type of Creeping Phlox.....not in my 'Yukon flower book' - grrr!

a pretty flower, worth a closer look.

The highway now climbed up, via Seven Mile Hill, to the Eagle Plains plateau. Apparently this is one of the few 'un-glaciated' areas in Canada. And talk about being 'on top of the world'! I am the first to admit I'm not very good with heights, but normally when we are driving, even if we are along the face of some cliff, I'm usually not too bad because even though there might be a sharp 'down side' there is usually also an 'up side' so I focus on that. Here there was no 'up side' it was a very queasy feeling to be the tallest thing around, in a 360 degree area, as far as you could see to the horizon!

There were a number of large swathes visible from this plateau, where forest fires had raged. Up here, unless structures or people are threatened (and you've seen how few 'structures' and people there are), they tend to let fires run their course. This particular burned out area was being regenerated by Cotton Grass

a closer view of the cotton grass that will eventually result in Tundra vegetation taking hold.

There was a large rest area here at Ogilvie Ridge, complete with interpretive panels on the geology of the area. The vegetation here consisted primarily of low bush cranberries - which would mean this would be a good 'bear' spot come berry time!

This view would be looking back towards the east, probably with a slightly southerly bent. That would be the Ogilvie River down there (I think)

Those mountains in the distance would be the Richardson Mountains....we'll be in them before this day is out.

another view from the ridge, this time looking sort of north west - again, I think....I didn't have a compass but I usually have a pretty good 'built in' compass

and on we continued....this photo shows the 'dyke - like' construction of the highway that I explained a few entries back. If you look carefully you should be able to see the road snaking across those far hills and off to the right of the picture......see what I mean about 'top of the world!'

This was another burned area resulting from a past forest side of the road....

and the other......

After about 175 km of driving, most of it over the plateau and under cloudy skies with occasional showers, passing two Black Bear and numerous Snow-shoe Hare, we reached Eagle Plains the mid-way point of the Dempster Highway. There is a motel, restaurant, service station and campground here. We stopped and filled up the fuel tank - diesel here was $1.36 a liter - the most expensive we paid, but understandable considering the location! The attendant congratulated us on having proper tires for the trip and lamented on all the rental campers that came through and the problems caused by them not being properly equipped.
Back on the road again, we dropped down in elevation to the Eagle River. There was a rest area here (with more noisy Gray Jays) and signs explaining about 'The Mad Tapper of Rat River' who apparently hung out in this isolated area.
We continued on to the Arctic Circle - part two

1 comment:

  1. You mention in your Dempster blog that you bought a Yukon flower book that you were not pleased with...could you pls tell me the name and author of that book so I don't buy it?