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Tuktoyaktuk 2017, Part 3 of 3

Dec 25, 2017

Dawson City – Home

Includes: Stewart Cassiar Highway, Haida Gwaii & The Inside Passage.

Our journey continues south as we head back towards our homes. However, we are far from done and have two significant components to our journey to still undertake. We really wanted to try and not re-trace our steps home but to return via a completely different route. Part of what I had dreamt of doing was to take a journey on the true Inside Passage again and to go and spend some time exploring Haida Gwaii. Thankfully my travel companions were agreeing, so that’s what we did.

Meanwhile back on the road there was a small matter of a couple of thousand kilometres to drive to get to Prince Rupert, BC – the most northern port in western Canada. Our journey wound it’s way south towards Carrmacks and onto the beautiful northern town of Whitehorse. We spent a little time shopping in Whitehorse and enjoying some of it’s sights, especially being rich in gold rush history. However time ticks, work schedules loom and much more exploring and travelling to do. We quickly continue south and onto the world famous Stewart Cassiar highway. Originally this was a southern extension of the Alaska Highway and then extended into the Cassiar Mining District. Eventually a road was pushed through to Meziadin Junction and given the designation of Highway 37 BC. It is one of British Columbia’s most spectacular and most remote highways and a true pleasure to travel. Majestic rain forest, towering peaks, great mining history, jade, remote lakes, breathtaking wildlife – a true gem in the British Columbia quiver of world class natural sights!

As we head further south we headed into a region I truly love, the Skeena Valley catchments and it’s surroundings. The drive continues with a night at one of my all time favourite provincial parks – Meziadin Junction. This place is run by friends and is immaculate, welcoming and just stunning being on the shores of Meziadin Lake. A great warm and relaxing evening and on towards the coast through the Nisga Lava Fields, a great hike to Kutzameteen Tidal Race before a night in Prince Rupert prior to our overnight ferry to Haida Gwaii. This region always draws me back, and we have some interesting plans for some trail exploration up here which will bring us back soon.

Haida Gwaii has been a bucket list location for a long long time and finally we made it. Arriving in the early morning mist, coffee with friends overlooking Skidegate Sound before heading north to explore. The list of places to see and things to do in Haida Gwaii is long and we had plans to click off quite a few whilst exploring by 4×4 and off the paved road as much as possible. Our travels took throughout the entire island, seeing classic sights such as some of the beach shipwrecks, amazing rain forest, Haida Heritage sights, long beach and dune drives with wild camps interspersed all over. Some of our highlights were a long hike to the Pesuta shipwreck, the Tow Hill hike and view, Rose Spit, a wild beach camp, Rennel Sound 4×4 exploring & camping and Ḵay Llnagaay Heritage Centre. We will be back to explore more and our next point will be to explore Gwaii Haanas via boat and sea kayak.

The last leg was the true Inside Passage aboard the BC Ferries Northern Expedition. This journey travels south from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and is perhaps the most spectacular way of seeing the most breathtaking part of western Canada via the ocean. Our journey onboard is about 16 hours long and takes in around 400km of steaming. This final leg of our journey allowed us to relax and take in the sights, with no pressure of driving. It was amazing to sit up front in the private lounge watching the scenery pass by, to be able to walk on deck and smell the amazing fresh air, feel the sea breeze and to be able to reflect upon our amazing but long adventure. This journey onboard the Northern Expedition is a must do, not cheap but worth every penny. Booking in advance is a absolute necessity.

Lastly a none eventful and fast cruise down through Vancouver Island, a quick family visit in Nanaimo, one last ferry and we were home.

We are thankful of this amazing opportunity, to each other for the support, kindness and advise we provided within our little circle. Without this support a journey like this would have been much harder. We are also grateful for our prior preparation of our old vehicles, they both performed amazingly. We look forward to our next adventures in 2018, and they look to be pretty awesome. Watch this space..

Fun Facts

We kept a journal each day of our journey and this is what we have for a few fun facts over the duration of the adventure.

Vehicles:

1 x 1996 Land Rover Defender 90 300tdi
1 x 1988 Land Rover Range Rover Classic 3.5 V8

Water Travel:

402km (201km x 2) Prince Rupert to Skidegate
523km Prince Rupert to Port Hardy
61km Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay

Total: 986km

Off highway (dirt):

700km Watson Lake to Carmacks & Hyland River
Dempster Highway 1475km (737.5km x 2)
Mackenzie Valley Highway (new road) 274km (137km x 2)
200km Haida Gwaii, guesstimate (Rose Spit alone was almost 50km round trip)

Total: 2649km

Grand Total Travel:

Total driving 8071km
Off highway 2649km
Water 986km

Overall 9057km

Fuel:

Land Rover Defender 90 – 1051.12 litres of diesel