Friday, August 18, 2006

Day 5 (Friday) On the South Canol Road

There are a seemingly endless number of scenic lakes here in the Yukon, and chances are that when you stop the car to take a break you'll have a lake of some sort in view. Today we stopped on the shore of Quiet Lake, about forty miles along the South Canol Road to take some pictures of the car with the lake and mountains in the background. After standing a few minutes, Brantley of car #9 announced that he wanted to go swimming and headed to the car to dig up his suit. It took me a minute to realize he was serious and the idea clicked with me too. As Brantley headed down to the water I ran up and threw on my suit too. A minute later both of us took a diving leap into the crystal clear and freezing cold lake. Ouch was it cold. Brantley was back out in a flash and his dad had to bribe him with a five dollar bill to dive again for a picture.

The swimming adventure was a tiny break from the long, long drive today. Car #9 and our Saab were the only two cars to make the optional Day 5 South Canol loop trip. (Other than the cycles and support vehicles that headed to the North Canol Road on Day 4.) We left Whitehorse at 8:30 and backtracked 80 miles on the Alaska Highway to Johnson's Crossing and the South Canol Road. The South Canol Road is 140 miles of narrow winding road with no services and no people. It meanders North and Northwest to Ross River. The sole purpose of this road was to facilitate the building of an oil pipeline during World War II so it has received only maintenance in the last 60 years. It is largely unchanged from the way it was built. I think it is much like the Alaska Highway was way back when it was built and before it was modernized and straightened. The road is a blast to drive, the scenery is awesome and it was definitely a highlight of our trip.

After a lunch of Triscuits and ham for lunch we turned West again on the Campbell Highway back West toward Carmacks. The road was paved for a short bit and then resumed being a “major highway, gravel.” We all had a chuckle as we approached Carmacks noting that it is only 100 miles from Whitehorse where we started the day and our scenic loop had taken us 9.5 hours.

In Carmacks, Dan and I had a mission. We headed into town to look for Alcan Winter Rally 2004 #13, a red Mitsubishi Montero. On the way south from Inuvik in February of 2004 the Montero had broken down and been towed to Carmacks. The owner of the Montero hitched a ride with other Alcan competitors and left the Montero with intentions of picking it up in the summer. We had no idea if we would find it or if he had indeed come back to get it. It didn't take long to discover that the Montero is indeed still there abandoned in a junkyard with other fatalities of the northern roads. It still has door and window decals that say “Alcan Winter Rally” and some almost new studless snow tires but otherwise it clearly had not moved since being towed there two and half years ago.

Our final miles into Dawson City were tough. It had been a long day in the car and we were getting crazy. We struggled to stay motivated and moving but finally arrived at the Eldorado Hotel in Dawson at 9:00 pm, with twelve and a half hours of driving under our belts.

We dove right into food and caught up with news from the teams and workers that camped out on the North Canol Road on Day 4. Lots of stories there, hopefully we can get words from one of those teams.

Tomorrow is Saturday, Day 6 and we are looking forward to another easy day with time to rest and explore Dawson City.


Blogger rallypants said...

Post them stories!

10:45 AM  

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