Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Day 5 of the 12 Days of Yukon

This is the day where things really started to get fun.  

We packed the trailer up, again, dropped it off at the RV place to store and we hit the road.  An hour into the drive husband says, “why don’t we just fly to Tuk?”.  This statement was equivalent to tasting chocolate for the first time.  How on earth did we not think of this earlier??

I tell husband this is the best idea he’s ever had and then say, “how about you make the arrangements?”.  Mostly because I had spent three hours booking hotels and making lists the previous day and I’m a little bit peeved about having to cancel all these arrangements.  

I start skimming through one of the many travel guides we have in the truck and come across a place, Arctic Chalet, that says it does flights to Tuk. There was another company listed as well.  Husband makes a call to Arctic Chalet and speaks to Judi.  Husband is talking, actually getting talked to by Judi.  As he’s talking I try to interrupt and say, “ask her if she’s in Inuvik”.  He gives me the hand.  I say this again.  He gives me the hand again.  I’m sure you know the gesture I’m talking about.  I interpret it as “I got this.”  Then husband is asked where we’re staying and asks me.  I rattle off the name of a place that I thought was in Dawson City, but it was actually an Inuvik hotel.  This did not help.  Husband is still talking to Judi, but now they’re talking about flying to Herschel Island.  If she can get a few more people we could go tomorrow.  We’re having that sort of conversation that I dislike, the one where the person on the phone is just giving you bits of what’s being discussed.

Husband asks me if I’m cool with going to Herschel and I say sure.  He gives her our credit card number and says to Judi, “see you tonight.”  We think we’re flying to Herschel Island – from Dawson City.  

We continue driving to Dawson City.  A few red flags are apparent from this conversation:  

  1. husband did say we were driving in today from Whitehorse.  Judi should’ve done the math, there’s no way you can drive to Inuvik from Whitehorse in 6 hours.  More like 20-22 hours. 
  2. Husband did not confirm where the Arctic Chalet was located (arctic is a bit of a hint), he assumed it was in Dawson City.   
  3. He was told the flight to Herschel Island was only 1 hour.  Looking at the map, I was astonished as to how fast one could get to Herschel Island from Dawson City (it’s far far away from Dawson City) on a twin otter.

Husband called one other place that said they flew to Tuk and left a message as no one answered the phone.  I made a call to a listed Dawson City tour operator and asked about flights to Tuk, she told me catch a Yukon Air flight to Inuvik and talk to Randy at some air line. Another red flag.  For the rest of the drive we had ourselves convinced it was going to be super easy to fly from Dawson City to Tuk or Herschel Island.  I chose to ignore the red flags and the little nagging voice.  

The perfect distraction along the way was a little lodge/campground called Moose Creek Lodge.  They sold cool stuff and had homemade tarts: butter tarts, blueberry tarts, raspberry tarts and strawberry tarts.  I bought six and ate 4 before we even got to Dawson City (the only thing I’m good at pacing at is 100m lengths in the pool). If I ever finish the 12 days, I should write a post on how to lose 6lbs in 3 weeks with a running injury.

The weather was pretty nice too

We get to Dawson City and I pull into the information centre (I’m driving at this point).  We go in and I find the first staff person who will make eye contact with me.  The first thing I ask her is,  “where is the Arctic Chalet?”.  She says, “Inuvik”.  I look at husband and say, “I TOLD YOU!”.  The lady at the info centre burst out laughing.  I leave the centre very fast as I’m pretty livid.  All I’m thinking is why didn’t he ask what town the Arctic Chalet was located in.  I tell him to call and cancel our flight.  For some reason I’m pretty paranoid Judi is going to take my credit card number and make a lot of personal purchases with it.  Husband calls Judi back and explains he thought she was in Dawson City and cancels all our flights.  We get into the truck and drive to the hotel (basically just around the block). 

We get all our crap unloaded and wander around a bit.  Dawson City is pretty cool.  Very historic.  We eventually go for dinner and I have arctic char again.  By this time we can laugh (sort of) about what happened, although I’m still feeling superior and  thinking that if I had made the call, I would’ve known the Arctic Chalet is in Inuvik.  Because I would have asked!

You can go here if you’ve forgotten the previous day.


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Day 4 of the 12 Days of Yukon

Day 3 is here if you need to refresh your memory.

Monday morning husband contacted a few RV places.  The first place couldn’t look at our trailer until Thursday, but he found another who said come by now.  Off we went.  Well actually, it wasn’t that simple because it’s a trailer.  First you have to put all your shit away so it doesn’t fall all over the place and then re-connect to the truck.  Eventually, “off we went”.  We found the RV place and then proceeded to quiz the RV repair tech (who just caulked around the windows for us) about driving to Tuk and he said “don’t take a new trailer down the Dempster.”  We asked if they stored trailers and they did. I think that’s called serendipity.

We then decided we were going to drive to Tuk – without the trailer (Plan E).  We’d spend two nights in Dawson City, boot it up to Inuvik in one day, then to Tuk and back to Eagle Plains the next day and then back to Dawson City.  Boom, easy (or so it seemed).  Three hours on the phone later, I had finally booked all the rooms on all the desired dates in all the desired locations.  We’d put Plan E into effect tomorrow.  Now keep in mind that I had to call numerous hotels/motels/lodges in three different communities (Dawson City, Inuvik and Eagle Plains – equates to 3 x 6) to find ones that had availability.  I wrote down all the names of the establishments in all the towns where we’d be staying (there was actually only one choice in Eagle Plains).  

Now we needed to purchase food, but not too much.  I noted that we had a loaf of bread (still the same 7 dollar loaf was with us) so just some pre-packaged Uncle Ben’s rice for variety and stuff to make sandwiches with my expensive bread.

With our remaining time, we visited the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Yukon Transportation Museum, Miles Canyon, and I ate a box of some pretty amazing locally made chocolates as well as more arctic char.

Now onto a more sombre note.  I didn’t even want to talk about this, but it happened while we were travelling and had an impact on our trip and lives. It was on this day, that husband learned via social media that two bodies had been found just before the Liard Hotsprings.  This was surreal as that sort of stuff doesn’t happen up here.  There weren’t a lot of details, but a young couple had been found dead.  This was just horrible news.


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Day Three of the 12 Days of Yukon

Go here if you need to refresh yourself on Day 2 (I know, this is taking way too long).

We were now executing Plan B: get to Dawson City as fast as possible and lolly gag on the way back to see all the sites. 

It’s now the morning of Day 3 and the rain had stopped and the sun was shining.  Everything in the front of the trailer was soaking wet.  We propped all the dinette pillows and the mattress topper (which weighed a ton) in interesting angles to speed up drying. I realized that we would now need an extra day in Whitehorse.  Husband (the individual formerly known as Mr X read my last post and said please don’t refer to me as Mr X) did some further investigation and noticed large gaps on the side of the front windows.  Not a levelling issue, more a quality control issue.   We needed to speak to the RV place to determine what course of action we could take for warranty purposes.  It was Sunday.  We might need more than one extra day in Whitehorse – Plan C.  I do what any normal person would do in this situation, I went for a run and let husband stew over the RV warranty and wet bedding. 

I stopped at the campground office first and enquired about running trails and local predators in the area.  He pointed me in the direction of a trail I vaguely recalled from several years back when I ran the Whitehorse half marathon.  I made my way towards downtown and found a very secluded single track trail.  It was amazing, but also unnerving as trails like this can offer many opportunities for surprise encounters with large predators and I didn’t have my early predator detection system (Kobi) with me.  I eventually popped out at a beautiful viewpoint a little ways up from Miles Canyon.  I decided to run the road back as the trail had me a bit freaked out.

Miles Canyon is way off to the top right

Once I got back, husband had the laundry mostly dried and had contacted the dealer who said find an RV place and get a tech to fix it.  That would be tomorrow. 

There are far worse places to be stuck.  Whitehorse is a pretty nice place.  I would live there actually.  We went for brunch at an awesome place called Burnt Toast.  Then we went to Canadian Tire to buy a tarp and Walmart to buy toiletries husband forgot to bring along.  We bumped into the same Fort Nelson friends as the night before.  They were grabbing some last minute provisions for their drive to Tuktoyaktuk.  We got all pumped about doing the same thing (hello Plan D).  I also learned there was a grizzly bear sighting around Miles Canyon that morning.  Recall I had been running around on secluded trails near Miles Canyon. 

We went to the Dirty Northern Bastard for dinner that night where I enjoyed a most delicious arctic char main course.  When in the north, I would strongly encourage you to eat nothing but arctic char.  

I should also note that prior to this trip, I developed an issue in my left knee.  It was quite painful to run downhill and I couldn’t bend my knee all the way.  Sitting for long periods of time was also proving very very painful.  I chose to ignore this because that is how you make injuries go away.  I also figured a slight decrease in mileage would make it go away.  

Stay tuned for Day 4 adventures.


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Day Two of the 12 Days of Yukon

I can’t believe how long it’s taking me to get these posts completed. If you’ve forgotten about Day 1, it is here. Day 1 will link you to the prequel too.

We departed the picturesque parking lot of the hotsprings early and were on our way. The goal was Whitehorse with a stop in Watson Lake to check out the sign post forest. Has to be done.

While I was driving to Watson Lake (it was my turn to drive) I had thought it might be a good idea to make a reservation at an RV park in Whitehorse considering our luck finding a spot at the Hot Springs the night before.  Of course I thought of this where there was no cell service (pretty much the entire way to Watson Lake) and hoped I’d remember to do this once I had cell service again.  Of course I forgot.  We even stopped in Watson Lake and took some shots of the signpost forest and picked up fuel. 

The sign post forest is huge! This is just one small part.

I remembered about 10 minutes out of Watson Lake as cell service was declining and asked Mr X to make the call (because I was driving).  He declined (he dislikes having to make plans and organize things) so I had to pull over and make the call.  I called what appeared to be a nice RV park based on the ads (Hi Country RV) and after some negotiating (more like begging), they saved us their overflow spot that had power and water connections.  Phew.  

Shortly after the call, I stopped at a small rest area and RV park called the Baby Nugget or something like that.  In the ads it said they sold amazing pastries and fancy coffee.  The fancy coffee turned out to be a programable machine and when I asked for an Americano the girl looked at the machine and read off everything it could make.  Americano was not one of the things it could make.  She looked at me oddly and I said not to bother (I could’ve said espresso and add water, but I was feeling somewhat snooty).  The pastries didn’t look very home made either so I opted for a 7 dollar loaf of whole wheat bread.  This bread becomes somewhat symbolic later on.

Six plus hours later we made it to Whitehorse.  That took way longer than it should have because we stopped at a few too many rest stops.

One of the many stops on the way. There were several fires causing this smoke haze.

We finally got to Whitehorse later that day and found Hi Country RV (after one drive-by) and our little overflow camping spot.  It was quite pretty and private.  I really liked this RV park.  

We met some friends for dinner at a cool little place called Klondike Rib and Salmon. It’s a very cool and very old building. While waiting for our table we literally ran into some Fort Nelson friends on the street who were travelling to Tuk. So random.

After dinner we headed back to the little trailer and settled in for the night.  I took the queen sized bed at the back of the trailer and Mr X took the eating area converted to sleeping area at the front as we both need our sleeping space.  That night it rained, as in the skies opened and it poured rain in such volumes it felt a little biblical.   Thanks to the rain and the fact that Mr X was sleeping in the eating area, he  discovered that the windows at the front of the trailer leaked badly, very badly.  I woke up hearing Mr X heading in and out of the trailer. It was about 12:30 am (so technically Day 3) and because we’re inexperienced travel trailerers I had Mr X convinced the water was pouring in because the trailer wasn’t level.  Mr X tried levelling it and it didn’t help.  We stuffed towels around the windows and went back to bed. We didn’t have a tarp.  Who needs a tarp?


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Day One of the 12 Days of Yukon

Finally, I am posting the start of my epic northern Canadian travel adventure that happened in July. If you missed the Prequel, just go here. It will set the stage for you.

Just so you know, I did not grow up camping much or travel-trailering.  I recall one tent trailer trip that left me pretty traumatized. As a result, I have no experience and neither does Mr X, but that’s what Google is for.  Based on my “what to take in your trailer” searches, I think I packed everything that was needed. I think.

Plan A: leave on Friday morning and take a short detour down to Boya Lake, spend the night there and then head to Whitehorse the next day. Boya Lake is one of those turquoise blue lakes full of islands. I’ve always wanted to go there. I did not get to go there.

I got this shot off Pinterest.

We weren’t remotely ready in the morning, therefore onto Plan B: leave at 2PM and get to Liard Hotsprings. We got to the Hotsprings campground and low and behold, it was full. I had no clue you should pre-book sites. We opted for the semi-private (I’m joking), beautiful (gravel parking lot) overflow site across the highway with at least 30 other campers. Welcome to camping. Oh, and it was raining.

I got this shot off Trip Advisor. It wasn’t this sunny when we were here.

Rather than cooking inside the trailer and having our neighbours (some girls in a car camping out of the trunk) enjoy our bickering, we opted to eat at the lodge.  Have I mentioned I’m a fussy eater? Pretty much the only thing I would eat off the menu was fish and chips. They seemed a bit freezer burned.

We didn’t even go in the hot springs because I’m spoiled. If there are more than 10 people present and it’s not a winter month, I don’t like going in. The springs were jam packed full of people (maybe because the campground was full and the overflow was nearly full too). It was nice to walk around and check things out regardless.

Needless to say, it was an early night. I took the queen sized bed option half of the trailer and Mr X opted to sleep on the kitchen table/bed as we both like our space.

Stay tuned, Day 2 will be posted soon. This trip just kept getting better.


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12 Days of Yukon – The Prequel

Greetings after a long absence!

This post is the prequel to even more posts (to follow later) about my summer adventures while travelling in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.  But first, I need to set things up for you so you know how it all began.

About 22 months ago I decided I wanted to take some time away from work.  My employer has a “Deferred Salary Program”.  They deduct 10-35% of your salary each pay cheque and after X number of months you have saved up enough to take 6 to 12 months off while receiving full pay.  I went for it.  Well, it wasn’t as simple as “I went for it”, but I’m trying to keep the word count manageable.

It took me 1 year and 7 months of deductions to save enough to take 6 months off work starting June 1.  What’s kind of significant about this date is that it’s the month before I turn half a century.  It’s also the same time that Kobi, my intrepid wing-girl, turns half a century in dog years.  We will be 50 together for 3 months of Kobi’s life.  How cool is that.

During the last three months of work I was doing some loose planning about things I’d like to do while off.  Mostly I just wanted to not work, which really seemed to surprise people when they asked what my plans were.  You see, I’ve never really liked “working”, but because I like wearing Arc’teryx clothes and insist on driving a Jeep (yes, I drive a Jeep because cool outdoorsy people drive Jeeps), I need an income to support these habits.  I’d love it if I could get paid tons of money to showcase my average running skills with my epically cool Rez dog, but unfortunately being average doesn’t draw the attention of high paying sponsorships.  I’m also not particularly entrepreneurial or highly driven so I’ve never landed a job that didn’t feel like work.  I do have a job that I like so I’m not going to complain, besides, they let you take this much time off and still have a job when you come back!

I’ve digressed.  Besides planning on doing whatever I felt like (after waking up WITHOUT an alarm), I thought maybe a trip to the arctic would be cool.  I told my arctic plan to my partner (who didn’t even have a passport at the time and who I will refer to as Mr X from here on in) and he said that sounded cool and he’d like to go with me.  I was somewhat relieved as I figured it would be me and Kobi sleeping in a tent and occasionally getting a motel.  The thought of sleeping in a tent is fine and dandy, if it remains a thought.  When you’re 50, sleeping in a tent is a sleepless painful night of moving from your back, to left side, to stomach, to right side and back onto your back every 5 minutes as there is no air mattress that can offer comfort to an oldish, somewhat arthritic body.  Don’t even get me going if it should happen to rain.  

I’ve digressed again.  Now that Mr X was on board, we decided a travel trailer was the way to go.  Nothing big, just something practical with a toilet.  A toilet was mandatory.  Pooping in an outhouse is something that has lost it’s appeal – can’t say that has ever been appealing.  Mr X spent weeks researching and we landed on a 16.5’ Forest River, No Boundaries.  It looks outdoorsy and the Jeep could tow it.  

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I thought Kobi would love the trailer

10 days before the planned departure date, the Jeep went to the shop for some minor tweaks for the big trip and sure enough they discovered the entire rear end needed replacing.  That took 9 days to fix and cost a quarter of what the trailer cost.  Off to a good start.  With one day remaining before the big departure, we got the Jeep back and noticed the Jeep didn’t have the right towing electrical plug thingy that would fit the trailer. Plan B, take the one ton dodge diesel.

What you may not be aware of, thanks to my blogging delinquency, is that Kobi has developed some pretty significant travel anxiety.  If you follow me on Instagram (@outdoorrunning) you may be aware of Kobi’s anxiety.  It all started last August, I won’t bore you with the details of the circumstances that led up to it, that’s another blog (or two).  As a result of her anxiety and because my amazing dog sitter/cat sitter/garden waterer was available, Kobi stayed home.  

Now you are all up to date on the events that lead up to the start of the arctic adventure. Stay tuned for the next 12 posts about the actual trip to the Yukon (and NWT). Looking back, I honestly didn’t know travelling could be this “exciting”.

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Kobi says, “no way am I going with you on this trip human.”


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Spring Hasn’t Sprung

I’ve been thinking of posting for months and then came to the realization that winter would be over by the time I got around to it.  Turns out I was wrong.  It is officially spring and has been for a bit now (at least according to the calendar), but winter hasn’t let go yet.

Rather than writing about my adventures since December, which would take at least 5,000 words, I shall summarize my most memorable moments since my last post in photos.  I’ve had some epic moments this winter too.  Perhaps I just attract epic adventure much like James Bond attracts gorgeous women.  It’s more probable that it’s just a natural consequence of running in the middle of nowhere with wild animals (I’ve had about 3 adventures with wild caribou alone).  One very memorable run involved a 95 lb golden retriever colliding into the side of my friends knee.  Now I know what bones cracking sound like.   She ended up with a compound fracture on her tibial plateau and will be a in a cast for 12 weeks.  Lesson learned from this, be careful when running with dogs.

Okay, now onto the photos…

7 caribou encountered on this run

Quick trip to the mountains

A little mountain trip

Just out running on the lake

Can you tell we like winter?

Out on the lake again (that’s Zola with us)

Kobi is keeping it real (and I’m trying to look all cool)

Our pack out in the middle of nowhere (a week before the knee break)

Kobi really likes the mountains

Girl power

Okay, that’s enough photo enjoyment.

I have no races planned (except Emperor’s Challenge – if I can get in).  My feelings towards races have evolved since my somewhat dysfunctional year and a half long relationship with Wolverine (recall my heel spur), but that’s an entirely separate post (or series of posts).

As I was closing this post, Kobi showed up at the door with a part of a white tail deer (it’s tail of all things).  I suspect some larger predators had a meal at the expense of the poor deer.  Life in the wild is harsh.  See, I do live an exciting life.

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Cricket is suggesting I not let that in the house

Has spring sprung where you are or is that still up for debate?

Should I have let Kobi in with the body part?  

Which photo is your favourite?