It was a beautiful sunny day when we left Tuktoyaktuk, The road was dry and therefore not slippery. We made the trip out of the Dempster highway in 2 overnight stops. At several point the views are much better then on the way up, so we stopped for lunch and took some of the scenery pictures again. In Inuvik we stopped again at the visitors centre for our walking in the Arctic Ocean certificate. Then we drove on to a territorial campsite just before the second ferry crossing over the Peel river at Fort McPherson. A lovely site but they had a generator going on for many hours for the electricity in the bathroom (there were only 4 campsites in use). We stopped there primarily for the hot shower. The next day we dropped in at Midway lake where there was a 3 days native festival ongoing. We were too early for the performances but in the canteen there was a lively atmosphere and one man was playing a guitar and singing away. It gave us a bit of the festival feeling. Most people were just slowly waking up after a late night of dancing/partying. People came from all over the Yukon, Northwest Territories and even Alaska. It was a gathering of the Gwich’in people. This is an annual event where they all meet up. Most live in very remote areas and have to travel for days by boat and road to get to the festival grounds. Families have permanent huts on the grounds which they used once a year. We drove on further past the Eagle Plains and slowly drove up again to over 1000 m. Unfortunately it stated to rain heavily when we arrived at the planned camp site in-between the mountains. So we decided that it was better to drive on and see if the rains would stop. It did (for a while). We pressed on to our favourite campsite from on our way up (2 days ago). This time we were there alone and had the prime spot overlooking the mountains (if there was no fog). With the washing bin, we fetched water from the river and cleaned all the dirt from the camper. Because it started to rain again the next day, before the end of the Dempster hwy, the camper was once more covered with mud. In Dawson City we found a garage with a high pressure hose and cleaned it again.
Dawson City is the traditional gold mining town. It has always been a town of prospectors and in 1876 had 1500 inhabitants when the big Klondike gold find was made. 2 years later 30,000 people arrived to stake their claim and hope to find gold. Most claims were already made by the locals who lived here. Also the easy gold was running out so the most people left and the town dwindled down to 975 people in 1921. It stayed at about that number till 1996 when the roads were improved and tourists started to come. The town is a lot more interesting then Skagway. There are no cruise ships arriving so the people you meet made a real effort to come here. Also there are a lot less shops selling jewellery and other rich tourist stuff. Most of the building are still from the gold rush period. They have been restored and it is nice to wander the streets walking on a board walk. The streets themselves are not paved and in the rainy weather we have now can be very muddy. When the small time gold miners left, the bigger enterprises took over. They built large dredges which floated in a pond. The first was introduced in 1905 and continued till 1959. By digging away on one side of the pond and dumping the tailings on the other side this large machine slowly eats it way up the valleys. The gold was gravity separated from the gravel by sieve and sluice boxes. The enormous machine was only operated in 3 shifts of 4 people. However it took a large workforce to clear the land ahead of the machine. The frozen ground had to also be thawed by steam injection before it could be dredged. We visited the restored dredge 4 and were giving a tour by park Canada’s very informative/knowledgeable staff. There is still mining going on in the different valleys around town. But is not at a large scale. Because of this, the whole area around this town is full of tailing left behind. It looks more like a moon landscape.