Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Day 7 of the 12 Days of Yukon

On Day 6 I neglected to tell you I had dropped into two information centres. First I hit the NWT information centre. I asked the lady there, “what would you do in Inuvik if you only had 4 hours?”. She told me to see the round church, check out the aquatic centre, and go to Alestine’s for dinner. I made notes. Then I hit the Yukon information centre across the street and asked the info dude there about running trails in the area.  He brought out a little map and pointed out a loop around the town that connected back to the dyke that ran along the river beside town.  I asked him if I should be concerned about bears and he said they could rent me a can of bear spray. Translation, yes, you should be concerned about bears. I explained I had my own bear spray, thanked him for his time and took the map he had highlighted for me.

Now back to the early hours of Day 7. I went off in search of the loop and found it after asking for directions from a guy walking his dog. The loop was pretty cool as it went behind town up on the slope where all the prospectors had set up camp around the town in it’s two year hay-day (I’ve included a photo way below that shows you what town looked like then).  You could see evidence of old garbage (cans and bottles)  as well as some rock foundations.  I then ran past moose hide slide.  There’s a bit of a neat story to that slide so check out the link if you have time.

I really liked this little sign along the trail. It made me miss Kobi more.
View from the back of the loop
Another view along the trail
Moose Hide Slide

After my run around town and before heading back to the hotel, I ran to a bakery and purchased the most delicious sticky bun I’ve ever eaten, a loaf of bread (because I threw my other 7 dollar loaf of bread), and some other dessert-like treat I can’t recall thanks to the sticky bun that I still dream about.  We went back to the Alchemy Cafe for breakfast (second breakfast for me) and I had the most delicious cold brew coffee.

This is what it looked like back in the old times (photo credit Parks Canada, Klondike National Historical Sites)

I had been working on convincing husband that we needed to drive at least part of the Dempster Highway and he finally conceded. We drove to Tombstone Park, about 70km up the Dempster.  Holy doodle, what a cool place, but what a lot of people!  I wasn’t expecting that.  It was also kind of smoky from the fires.  We got to the interpretation centre and I asked a helpful staff person where there was a shortish trail that I could run in 30 minutes so as not to annoy my husband too much.  She didn’t laugh, but took my request very seriously. She provided me with directions to this perfect trail and off we drove a little ways up the Dempster. We found the side road and parked where it ended. It was pretty off the beaten path, so much so, that once I started running, I lost the trail.  Then I saw a caribou carcass, freaked out and started running back to the truck. Then I experienced a severe leg cramp and hobbled the rest of the way back.  It was a short run.

This was the trail that just ended
That’s the Dempster down below

Apparently July 2019 was the driest the Dempster had ever been. Perhaps that’s why there were so many fires happening too.

We proceeded back to Dawson City and hit the museum and walked around town a bit more checking out the historic sites. There was also a music festival happening over the weekend so a lot of bands were coming to town and you could hear lots of bands practicing or doing sound checks. I realized I was old at this point as I mostly found it loud.

Robert Service’s former cabin.

For dinner we hit the hotel restaurant and I had arctic char, again! This is my all time favourite fish. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to get organized for our morning flight to Inuvik the next day. We’d be staying overnight at the Arctic Chalet in Inuvik – the place that Judi the Herschel Island tour organizer ran. I had only brought a small day pack with me so it was a bit tricky packing everything I’d need for one night into a very small bag considering I was packing warm gear for Herschel Island, just in case.


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Day 6 of the 12 Days of Yukon

I’m sure you’ve all been anxious to continue reading about my 12 day adventure. Perhaps many of us have a bit more spare time on our hands right now too thanks to COVID-19. In case you need something to do, here is some reading for you. Oh, and here’s Day 5 in case you need a refresh.

Day 6 is now Wednesday of the northern adventure.  After a pretty amazing breakfast at a little place called the Alchemy Cafe we (more like I), looked into getting to Inuvik via air vs. driving the Dempster.  Turns out Air North has ridiculously inexpensive flights daily from Dawson City to Inuvik.  

I called Judi from Arctic Chalets and reviewed options once we got to Inuvik.  She needed one more person for the Herschel Island trip or it would cost a bit more than 1000 bucks each (ouch).  I confirmed with her that Air North had a pretty consistent record of arriving on time so we would fly in Friday and she’d pick us up and whisk us to the hangar next door for our Twin Otter flight to Herschel.  Easy Peasy (or Plan FFS).

After all the travel organizing was done we did some exploring around Dawson City.  It’s pretty easy to get around by foot and there are so many cool historic sites to see.  Husband had heard that Dredge #4 was a pretty cool tour.  I looked at tour times and noticed we had over an hour before the next tour so I said lets go to Dome Hill.  We drove up and around to a pretty spectacular view point.  Turns out there was a run up this mountain on Saturday.  Sadly I would miss it because of Inuvik.  

Nice view of Dawson City from Dome Hill

After the Dome, we drove and drove to Dredge #4 and partook of the tour.  Our tour guide was Sue and she assured me the washroom facilities were the second best in Dawson City.  They were pretty decent.  I should note that Sue looked tough enough to have thrived during the goldrush.  She was cool. 

Here are some other stand-outs from this tour: a large pincher beetle landed on me at the start of the tour and it took every ounce of will power not to bust into Matrix style kung-fu trying to fling it off, there was a young child that had absolutely no interest in the tour and screamed his head off the entire time, there was a family with two little girls and the one young girl mistook me for her mom and grabbed my hand during the tour only to nearly break into Matrix style kung-fu when she realized I wasn’t her mom (that was awkward), and our tour guide Sue had a giant gold nugget in her pocket worth about $1500.

If you’re interested in details about Dredge #4, please Google it as there’s a lot of really interesting stuff about it. I will however note some highlights.  Dredge# 4 was built in 1912 and was the last working dredge in Dawson City. It operated until 1959 (with some ups and downs along the way) and sadly paid it’s staff the same wages up until then as it did back in 1913 – about 5 bucks a day (to get to go deaf).  It was 8 storeys high and pulled a lot of gold out of the ground over its 46 years, 9 tons actually.  A dredge digs down about 60 feet and all the gravel and rocks go through some screens and get spit out the back.  Hence all the caterpillar like gravel formations all over the area.  Talk about hard on the environment.  This dredge was abandoned and recently restored, minus a few cool parts that were stolen.  

Dredge #4

After the dredge tour we headed back to town and checked out the museum, but decided we didn’t have enough time so we’d save that for tomorrow.

Stay tuned for Day 7. It’s nearly ready, I promise.


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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.