Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NWT reflections, part 2: Driving on ice

There are too many photos of our winter road adventure to stuff them all into one blog post, so here's a photo-essay-follow-up to part 1.

In the summer, you'd take a ferry across the Mackenzie and Laird rivers if traveling from Fort Simpson to Wrigley. In the winter, you just drive across the river, as you can see by this short clip from our northbound crossing of the Mackenzie. Click here to view map of roads and crossings in the Northwest Territories.

It was already dark when we actually entered the NWT.

We woke up at 3:00 a.m., in order to drive from High Level, Alberta
to Tulit'a, NWT. At about 7:00 a.m., we gassed up in Enterprise, NWT.
The dogs needed to be fed, but first they watched us totally unpack/repack
the car. We'd been fishtailing on ice for much of the morning, and hoped
moving most of our gear to the center of the car would balance the weight.

Laird River ice crossing, just outside of Fort Simpson.

Approaching Laird River ice crossing; sign
indicates semi trucks and cars are okay to cross
Somewhere on the road

Although traveling with dogs can be frustrating, it also means lots more
breaks - a good thing for getting the blood flowing in man and dog alike.
Our travel companion, Bob, is pictured here with Stella and Butterball.
Any guesses which dog is which?

Having driven this road once, and not being terribly excited
to drive it again, we are all in awe of the drivers that make
their living navigating up and down it for several months
each year. We definitely encountered more than one spot
whose navigability for large trucks defied our imaginations.

Slight ground blizzard kicked up by one of the many semi trucks we met.

Mackenzie River ferry in dry dock

Crossing the Mackenzie River ice road

The Subaru that made it nearly 3,000 miles (one
way!), but almost got foiled by a massive pothole.
Bob Polfus, the father of our friend, who
bravely drove two dogs from northern Wisconsin
to Montana, where we joined the journey.
At this point, we were still SO FAR away. 240+ kilometers,
at only 30-35 mph takes a really really really long time.

Even the dogs were ready for a long break by the last day.

This is a fairly accurate portrayal of the video game/roller
coaster ride sensation Jerod said he got driving the winter road.

If you'd like to read the column, let your local newspaper or magazine editor know you want to see an illustrated version of the West in their publication!

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