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Day 40 - Travel to Eagle Plains, YT

Today we start our drive to Inuvik on the Dempster Highway. Most of us are a little wary because it is all gravel for about 450 miles and it is raining.

Within a half mile of the sign we cross a single-lane wooden roadbed bridge. You can see how slick it is. (Ernie Lindgren)

Across the bridge we are on an asphalt roadway and we are thinking, "maybe there was a mistake and it is really all asphalt".

No such luck! Within a few miles we get to the gravel road. The fog is lifting and the light rain continues. The good news is there is no dust to work its way into the coaches.

We begin to see the mountains, but the road follows the valleys so we really do not climb very much.

Tombstone Park is the first territorial park we encounter. (Ernie Lindgren)

Not too far into the park we stop at Tombstone Interpretive Centre at 71.5 KM

The building is fairly new and has two floors of wonderful displays explaining most every aspect of what you will see in the park.

The second floor is devoted to birds and raptors.

This is the only wildlife we saw. It is an Arctic Ground Squirrel. They are 6 to 8 inches tall and are gray and rust colored.

A number of people saw this Grizzly Bear and are uncertain about the blond color of the hair. We were told this is not that unusual for a Grizzly.
(Clare Candelori)

Although this picture is blurry, it is clearly a moose. The rule is, if you see and animal and don't get a picture, then it never happened. Ruth did get a picture, so there's a real moose! (Lindgren)

The following pictures just show how the topography changed over the course of 254 miles. Here we have lakes and valleys with black spruce and low bushes, even some cranberries in the fall.

As we traveled further to a higher altitude we are traveling through a land of nearly continuous permafrost. Wherever you see tundra, you can be pretty sure the soil underneath is permanently frozen. It has been this way for thousands of years, insulated by a thick layer of moss and lichens.

Because of this thin active layer of soil, which thaws during the summer, roots cannot penetrate deeply enough to support a tall tree.

We stopped at Two Moose Lake, but they must have had another appointment, because we did not see them!

The tundra continued as we drove toward the North Fork Pass summit.

We left the tundra and came into an area of small Black Spruce and Aspen.

A panoramic of the gray hills of Windy Pass at the start of the Northern Ogilvie Mountains. This area escaped glaciation during the Ice Age. At about 3,500 feet above sea level, the sight we see now is the view the first people would have had as they roamed eastward from Asia across the Bering Land Bridge into what is now the interior of Alaska and the Yukon.

This was just an interesting rock formation that caught our eye. We were wishing we had a geology guide to the Dempster Highway.

Engineer Creek runs along the roadway and is colored red by iron oxide that has stained the water and also the rocks in, and along the river.

We drove through an area where the rocks were more of a sandstone color, but the roadway was almost asphalt black. They use gravel from the local areas on the roadway, so why isn't the road sandstone too?

In July 1991, nearly 14,000 acres were burned by a forest fire negatively affecting the Caribou population. They feed off the lichen and moss in the winter. When the forest burns, it burns the lichen and moss as well. Also, notice the roadway is now brown again.

A majestic view from Ogilvie Ridge.

Arriving at the campground you can see how the wet dirt roads have coated our vehicles.

It was almost like everything had a thin coat of concrete covering every square inch.

After a long day of driving, many of us decided on a LEO. That's "Let's Eat Out!".

Since the Eagle Plains Hotel Restaurant was the only act in town, this is where we ended up.

This is a panoramic picture taken from Eagle Plains RV Park. We are just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle at this point.

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