Monday, 28 August 2006, Tombstone Mountain Campground, YT
After spending considerable time on the internet trying to sort out the photo problem on our website, it was almost midday before we left the campground. We had to go into town to get money from an ATM, send a fax to renew our truck insurance and buy groceries and wine. Finding an ATM that was actually operating or in a business that was open proved somewhat difficult. There is only one bank in town and the teller machine wasn't functioning yesterday and still not when I tried at about 12.30. After trying every other place in town - 3 of them - that might have been possibilities, I returned to the bank to ask them what I could do, only to be informed that the ATM was now functioning. I guess it had just run out of money on the weekend - I've seen it happen in Byron Bay with monotonous regularity - but why they didn't fix that little problem first thing Monday morning is quite beyond me.
We left town almost reluctantly, as we had really enjoyed this little piece of history, and filled up at the industrial area on the way out at MacKenzie Petroleum where they gave us a 4 cent/litre discount just because we were travellers. They already have the cheapest gas in Dawson City! And then we were finally on our way to the Dempster Highway and further north. Dempster Corner, the junction of Dempster Highway with the Klondike Loop, is 40 km south of Dawson City. We turned onto the highway and the first few kilometres were paved - after that it is gravel in various states of repair all the 735 kilometres (or so) to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories.
The road follows the North Klondike River valley which is wooded with spruce and poplar trees. We were amazed at how the leaves are already starting to turn along this road. There are lots of yellows and even some oranges and reds to be seen. I think we will be experiencing a very long autumn season this year! Higher up on the mountains that flank the road, above the tree line, the colours are even more outstanding, with lots of pink and red. I'm not sure what is growing there but am hoping that we will see it up close as we travel further north.
We arrived at Tombstone Park Interpretive Centre shortly before 4.00 and found a group of people all watching the hillside through binoculars. It was a black bear - number 8 - on the hillside feeding on berries. It was possible to see him with the naked eye, but through the binoculars he was really clear, and seemed quite close. Evidently he has been feeding on that slope for the last 11 days.
After finding a campsite in the Tombstone Mountain Campground we went back to the Interpretive Centre to register and spent some time speaking with a Canadian from Toronto who had just spent a week driving to Inuvik and back. He found it an adventure but had experienced a lot of rain and a snow storm, making the road quite slippery and sometimes treacherous. The forecast for the next five days seems to be for fine, sometimes cloudy weather, so if it stays like that we may decide to drive to at least the magical 66°33' North.
Juergen got some pretty shots in the late evening light of the colours of the arctic tundra on the mountain just above the campsite. One has to wait for full dark until after 11.00 at this latitude, but I'm slowly getting used to it and am able to get to sleep before then if I'm tired.
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