Monday, September 8, 2008
The Territories in the North West of Canada
Yes indeed! That little figure perched on the edge of the waterfall is none other than yours truly. Although I was nicknamed "Abel" after Abel Tasman the explorer, by my travel companion Goran.
Last week, Goran and I did a major road trip. We explored the North West Territories and some parts of Alberta. To do this, we drove more than 6000 km in 7 days. From Vancouver we headed east towards Banff, then Jasper followed by the northern part of Alberta. The trick is to top off your fuel tank every chance you get, as fuel opportunities are few and far between.
The weirdest thing happened in northern Alberta. As we did not buy an Alberta map, we went by a very coarse scale (1:1000000) overview map of BC which showed part of Alberta as well. Only major cities like Vancouver, Victoria and such were printed on this map. And also a place called "Steen River". If a place shows up on a 1:1000000 map, surely, it must be a sizable large community. Well, I just checked in google maps, it is not even listed there. I think it is abandoned, or maybe only inhabited a small part of the year. We had to backtrack to High Level to get more fuel, and a motel.
Canada is composed of Provinces (like BC) and Territories (like Yukon). One of the territories must have been so insignificant, they did not even bother to properly name it. It's name is simply "North West Territories". It's as big as the half of Europe, but with only 50000 inhabitants, many of which live in Yellowknife which was our destination. After merely one night in Yellowknife, our trip home started.
There are not many roads in North West Territories. The few they have are often littered with potholes, or just gravel roads. Some of them are winter-only roads, because they use frozen rivers as roads there. Transport of choice is the bush plane, or boat plane.
We took a side trip, over the Alaska Highway to Liard Springs. It was recommended by us by Brent, the owner of the Bannockland B&B we stayed in while we were in Fort Simpson. Fort Simpson was very remote, only reachable by air of ferry. The people have it hard here. There is a grocery store, but it did not have any fresh produce, other than some spoiled strawberries, and two carrots, imagine that.
Our trip was in the spirit of: "It's about the Journey not the Destination". And during our journey we saw some impressive sights and wild life. We encountered Bison, Moose, Cariboo, Wolves, Black Bears, Foxes and Squirels. Especially the Alaska Highway to Liard is of stunning beauty. Some call it "the arguably most scenic ride in North America". We tend to agree. And the locals told us: "Oh, you will be back, all of them do."