Sirius Rally Team

Getting 'Sirius' about Rallying

Driving the Dempster on Alcan Day 5

dempsterlogosmall.gifThe alarm went off (success – already a better start than yesterday!) and I peeked out the window to see if the truck maintained its glory overnight. I saw our teammate Bill peeling off toilet paper, and in a sober moment, I hoped we weren’t in big trouble. It went over well, in the end, and although they pulled all the stuff off, the shaving cream was frozen solid and as the engine warmed the hood chunks of it melted and gave clean smelling birthday windshield wishes for the better part of the morning. We traveled from Dawson City YT to Inuvik NWT along the Dempster highway, and as the sun set we did a few blocks of the 100km ice road that will take us all the way to Tuk tomorrow.

We had heard from the Alcan veterans that the Alcan starts on the Dempster, and today we found out why. This highway is a winding, elevated snowy path that undulates through mountains, bare tundra and smooth marshmallow arctic hills. There’s simply too much to describe, and I’m so glad we get to travel it twice. Gord and August were very patient with my requests to stop at every spectacle for photos or a closer look, but we had a hard time keeping on the required Alcan pace. Anyone who knows my Dad will understand that I am genetically inclined to photograph and marvel at every natural wonder while on a roadtrip holiday. We’ve been traveling in a convoy of four cars, which is fun because we’re all into the sights, speed, thrills and a bit of mischief as the best parts of the Alcan adventure.

The middle part of the Dempster rides along a ridge where I felt that we were driving at the top of the world. As we came down off the divide we crossed two ice bridges at Peel and Mackenzie, where they have the summer cable ferries stranded on snowbanks as a reminder of how different things will be there a few months from now. When we started out down the highway this morning the landscape seemed strange and unusual, and as we explored the streets of Inuvik, the scene seemed even more unfamiliar. There are snowmobiles everywhere, as erratic and unpredictable as jaywalking pedestrians but traveling at much higher speeds. The houses are lifted blocks with brash or faded coloured siding. The open space under the houses wards off permafrost. The streets are all ice roads, crisply white, except for a lot of yellow corners. It was hard to discern where the ice road started; I guess I was expecting a drive off a ramp like at a rally or some cheesy fuss and circumstance like on the Ice Road Truckers show, but it was quiet, simple and austere. Until we got buzzed by a bunch of snowmobiles. The dusk in Inuvik was the most colourful I’ve seen with no clouds – just pure pink and purple light, and white snow ice road. We’re leaving very very early tomorrow so I have time to meander and take it in before everyone catches up. To rally or to wander – a tough choice sometimes, but it’s a luxury I’ll happily negotiate.

Link to the Dempster Highway map HERE.

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February 21, 2008 - Posted by | 2008 Winter Alcan 5000, Alcan Car 17 the rex

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