Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back to the Dempster 2011 – Part 15a

Seems like getting this trip posted is taking almost as long as the trip itself!  Here goes some more…we would spend this day at the Tombstone Territorial Campground…

The visitor center

In the morning we walked the trail from the campground to the new visitor’s center…

Sign at the visitor center

this is quite a remarkable ‘off the grid’ building…this sign explains some of it’s features…

Beaver Pond trail signage

from the south end of the parking lot at the visitor center there is a very easy ‘Beaver Pond Trail’ – Ernie had done it the night before, but this morning I got to come along…

start of the trail

the entrance to the trail cautions that there is a ‘bear in area’….

looking back

and not too much further along – you find the ‘bear’ – this is a Willow sculpture by a Yukon artist and is very lifelike, and life size…


there were some very pretty areas along the trail….

Signage along the path

and more great explanatory signage…

The Beaver Pond

and here is the Beaver Pond…

Beaver lodge sculpture

and another Willow sculpture – this time it is a Beaver lodge…

Beaver tracks

the viewing platform at the pond has ‘beaver tracks’ leading from the pond to the ‘lodge’…

Ernie at the viewing platform

this picture sort of displays the whole area…


one area along the trail sported this ‘Cotton grass’

Caribou tracks

and the track theme continued with Caribou here….

and tiny tracks - lemming maybe?

and here some little tiny guy’s…possibly Lemming?

Canon part 2 087

heading back, there is the visitor center in the distance.

A little inukshuk

and I’ll just finish this section with this picture that Ernie took of a little Inukshuk someone built on one of the posts at the visitor center….

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back to the Dempster 2011 – Part 14b

Another one of those days around here in real time…keeps snowing but then changes its mind to rain…and back to snow…so back to the Dempster where it was a picture perfect day!

Fall on the Dempster

The colour is really starting to show up – I bet a week later it would have been spectacular…


although you can’t get much more spectacular than this!  Just one of the many little lakes along the route.

The Dempster in late summer

and now we are back on Tundra with the Tombstone Mountains in the distance…

Fall on the tundra

another road side lake or pond

Chapman Lake in fall

Chapman Lake…

Back at Tombstone

and now back in Tombstone park.

Two Moose Lake

Two Moose Lake – and still no moose – quite a few tourists though and lot’s of moose tracks…

The highway at Two Moose Lake

still at Two Moose Lake….you can see the road is pretty darn good here…

Tombstone Mountains

further along we pulled into an old gravel pit where we had stopped before…there had been Willow Ptarmigan here on our previous trip and we had yet to see one this trip…

Ptarmigan on the road

but then, suddenly one appeared on the road….


and then another….this one a male…

crossing the road

this leads to the question of ‘why did the chicken cross the road?’

Young one on the road

well in this case it was because most of the family was on the other side!  Here a young one…

Can you see three?

some of the family…

at the edge of the tundra

moving off into the tundra

getting invisible

and disappearing in the vegetation….

Amaranth or sorrel

I’m throwing this in…it was flowering in the parking area.  I think it is a kind of sorrel but haven’t been able to ID it yet…

The Tombstone Mountains

Now back to the look out just before the campground…the tundra is really starting to change colour now…I knew we were too early!!!!

We arrived at the campground mid-afternoon and were lucky to get a spot…we would spend the next day here so will save campground area photos for another posting.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Back to the Dempster 2011 – Part 14 a

This would be one of the better days of our trip…but before we start on it, I’m just going to pop back to the day before….it seems when I was organizing photos…I didn’t do a very good job and I want to show a few things I missed…

The Arctic Circle

We’ll start with this one back at the Arctic Circle…just because…

Elephant rock in the distance

Then I want to show this…this is the Blackstone River and Elephant Rock is in this picture…you can see how easy it is to miss!

Elephant rock

now we have zoomed in on the rock formation (this was 20x optical zoom)

Elephant rock

and for an even closer look…Ernie was using a Nikon with a 36x optical zoom…

Rock formations

This is another of Ernie’s pictures…  So, back to the day at hand…we woke up and got ready to leave.  Just as we were about to pull out, a pick up truck pulled in and parked right across our campsite drive…we wondered what on earth was going on – had a slight guilt as we hadn’t paid either night we’d stayed at Engineer Creek Campground, and neither had anyone else, because there were no self register envelopes left…but no, the person asked us which way we were headed and when we said, ‘back to Tombstone’ she said that there were a Grizzly sow and cub feeding right at the side of the road just down from the campground, the way we were headed.  We thanked her for the heads up ….

Grizzly Sow and cub at side of the road

and sure enough…there they were..mom on the left…  Since you don’t get to be this close to Grizzly’s very often…the rest of this post is going to be pictures of these two…

Cub with sow in the background

here is a closer picture of the cub…these are taken from inside the truck…


Mom moved off here and this demonstrates how they just blend in with the habitat…

Mom in the bush

Really, would you know she was there if you hadn’t watched her walk there?

The cub

the cub continued to feed quite close to the truck…

an itch break

Mom settled up on the hillside and proceeded to have a good scratch..

Too close

the cub is now getting a little too close!

she is watching though

Mom is keeping a very close eye on the situation….and these things, for all their size, can move very fast…

Mom on the move

Mom decides that enough is enough and she starts up the hillside…

Better go join mom

and junior decides he better follow mom.  This made for a great start to the day…which we’ll continue next post…

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Back to the Dempster 2011 – Part 13

Today would be the day we would travel as far north as we intended to go this trip…

Ernie taking pictures of the Grizzly

We got up to sunshine….and Shantz alerted us to what Ernie is photographing…

Breakfast Grizzly

a Grizzly bear out on the tundra beside where we were camped….how close had it been to us?  Not sure i want to know!

White crowned Sparrow

there was one other sign of life before we left – a young White Crowned Sparrow…

another one just along the road

We got packed up and pulled out and headed north…hadn’t gone very far when another Grizzly was spotted up on the hillside….

The road ahead

We are now heading towards the Richardson Mountains…

Truck and Camper

Pulled over at the side of the road…we’d seen lots of birds flying up out of the tundra in this area…


a Richardson, or Arctic Ground Squirrel co-operated for a picture….

The tundra

alas the birds did not….obviously they were grouping ready to migrate and were very ‘spooky’.  The scenery stayed still – very ‘golden’ and very different looking than in the spring or early summer.

Richardson Groundsquirrel

further along we pulled into another large parking area where another ground squirrel was even more co-operative.

up close

Won’t hurt to throw in another picture – this particular type of ground squirrel is only found in these northern climes.

The Tundra

and here is another look at the golden and red tundra…


Finally one of those elusive birds – an American Pipit I think….I really don’t know what else was there


and now the Yukon/N.W.T. border – this would be our turn around point this trip.  After coming all this way we probably should have continued on but the dog was still having eye issues….

Berry Pickers

at this point there were numbers of persons out picking berries.  The entire First Nations people from Fort McPherson had taken the day off to pick cloud berries.  The women were picking and the men were patrolling with rifles….the reason – Grizzlies…like I’ve said many times, Grizzlies can appear out of now where on the tundra.  Also, Caribou had started moving through this area and the grizzlies follow the caribou.

Wright Pass

So at 11:30 am on August 25 (gee 5 months exactly from today), we turned around and started the long trek back towards home.  This is Wright Pass….just opposite the parking area at the border…

heading home

there is the highway….

A Pingo

that hill out on the tundra is a ‘Pingo’ a structure formed by ice heaving up…


We hadn’t gone very far when movement on the tundra caught my eye – a Wolf!  It was far off and moving quickly but did manage to get a picture of it…only the second time I’ve ever seen a wolf in the wild and the first time up here along the Dempster.

'till we meet again

and now, back at the Arctic Circle….we’ll be back – one way or another!

North of 60

a few more shots are called for….

The Arctic Circle

August 25, 2011 at the Arctic Circle.

Back at Ogilvie Ridge

and now back at Ogilvie Ridge…we’ll be down there in those mountains soon…

and into the Ogilvies

and into the Ogilvie's – notice the aspens have changed colour in just the last day…

Blackstone River

a stop at the Blackstone River….

Elephant Rock

and there, notice the rock formation – we missed this our first trip, and on our trip north – if it hadn’t been for having lunch at Eagle Plains with our 14 time visitors from California…we might never have noticed ‘Elephant’ or as I prefer “mammoth’ rock….

the rock formation some of the other rock formations along the highway are harder to miss…

Interesting mountains

a different perspective….


ended the day back at Engineer’s Creek Territorial Campground….oh yuck!  We have to get in that?

Now, even though we have started back, there is still a very long way to go…with lots left to see…tomorrow we’ll be traveling back to Tombstone….