Post by guy on May 8, 2019 15:20:20 GMT -8
Couple of years ago, May of 2017, I packed the Jeep and headed north from central Washington to Fairbanks. It was to be a dream hunt, hunt of a lifetime, for grizzly in the Arctic.
The nine-day hunt was one adventure, an amazing time. Nine days, camping in a little backpacking type tent, glassing daily. Caribou, wolves, an arctic fox, and yes, bears.
But this is about the trip! I was on a budget and intended to camp most nights, saving money by cooking two meals a day, and avoiding most motels. I packed my small tent, sleeping bag, stove, etc... Had the ARB fridge as well.
Some folks may have questions about taking a firearm into Canada. It's really no problem. A shotgun or rifle can easily be taken into Canada! I took my exceedingly normal 30-06 Remington 700. The first thing I did right was to read all the Canadian regs re this, and to follow those regs. The Canadians are perfectly fine with us taking normal hunting type rifles & shotguns into their country! They have a few stipulations. If you want to bring your AR-15 "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" rifle... That might not go over well. If you want to bring a normal bolt action or lever action hunting rifle, no problem. Same thing with shotguns. Handguns? I wouldn't even try! It can be done but is a lot of work.
Also on their firearms forms you'll see a list of reasons why you're bringing a firearm into their country. Among those choices are both "transport" - meaning you're taking it to Alaska, or "defense" meaning you're going to be camping and traveling some remote Canadian areas and you'd like a firearm along for safety. Either way is fine. A mere $25 Canadian obtains a temporary Canadian firearms license. They didn't even want to see my rifle, I left it locked in a hard case, inside my Jeep when I stopped at the border and obtained my license.
Another smart thing I did was to declare my firearm to U.S. Customs before entering Canada. This proved to be a great call! The rifle was inspected by US Customs, serial number, make, model and cartridge all documented. The Canadians don't require this, but the clerk I spoke with was delighted to see the American form. It also helped when I re-entered the lower 48 about three weeks later. A lot. Ran into the only truculent border guard (one of ours) who looked at my three-week old US Customs form said she couldn't read the signature of the other customs agent from three weeks earlier. For some reason, I don't know why, I actually remembered that agent's name! He was a senior, supervising agent, and suddenly everything got easier about coming back into Washington, with my rifle. Sheesh. She was something else. The Canadians were great. Her? Not so much.
Onto the trip! Decades ago the trip to Alaska was a serious undertaking requiring a heavy-duty rig... Today it could be done with a Toyota Camry. I kid you not. It's paved all the way. The farther north I got, the farther apart fuel stations were. Gas up where you can! And, maybe bring a few gallons extra. I never dipped into my 5 gallon can, but... Almost. Prices can be quite high. Get used to it.
I had hoped to fly fish my way north. Water conditions were not good for that. Only the first night was at a lake where I could have fished. It was beautiful!
The rivers were at flood stage due to intense runoff. The lakes were still ice-covered. Except for in southern British Columbia.
Stayed in a campsite that I rented, and bought firewood from the camp host. That worked well, and he even let me use his axe to split the wood. I'd neglected to pack an axe or splitting maul! I had my bow saw, but needed a way to split firewood.
Moving farther north, I got away from the bigger cities in southern British Columbia and found myself traveling an incredible, beautiful, and vast country!
My "guide" for the trip was a hardcopy version of "The Milepost" - I'd highly encourage anyone traveling north to Alaska to obtain it. Easy to order online. That map was excellent! The book provided great info. All I needed.
The farther north I got, the more interesting were the characters I met.
One fellow who runs a gas station told me of killing 13 bears over the years, about a 50/50 mix of black bear & grizzlies. He lives about 50 yards from his filling station and walks both ways with a 12 gauge loaded with slugs. His face is a wee bit messed up from one bear that came a little close to winning...
More northerly in Canada, means more natives. Those I encountered were good folks. Happy to have a cuppa coffee and talk about their wonderful land. Except one fellow.
Came out of a general store with a few things I'd purchased including a 12 pack of beer. He was standing near my Jeep, I'd say 30 years old, 6-02 and 200 pounds. Well dressed. He asked me for money, and intimated that he'd take it if I didn't give it.
Guys - I was 61 years old on that trip. I'm about 6' and 220 pounds. Used to be muscle... I was worried that he'd beat the snot out of me. Or I'd beat the snot out of him and get arrested by the tribal police in a foreign nation... Ah, no thanks. I eased my way out of that situation and back into my Jeep. A physical confrontation seemed like a Really Bad Idea.
Continued heading north. Travel isn't fast. The Canadian speed limits are low. This helped my Jeep get pretty decent fuel economy. Some of the roads just don't handle higher speeds. There's a LOT of beauty to stop and see. But I wasn't able to put huge mileage behind me every day.
I stopped at Lake Kluane to sight-see and walk. I left the Jeep, camera in hand and started hiking the shoreline. Beautiful! Then I was headed back towards my Jeep and saw a big Suburban parked nearby. Everyone in it was looking past my Jeep with binoculars... At a grizzly! The bear and I were on a collision course. I stepped out right quickly, would have made the Gunny proud as I hustled to my Jeep! Whew! Once there I snapped a few photos.
This was the 2nd grizzly I'd seen on the trip. I was glad I had bear spray, and I shifted the cased 30-06 to the top of the cargo in the back of the Jeep, where it would be more quickly available. Guys, there are a LOT of bears, black and grizzly, up there!
In the Yukon, I found that developed campsites were only $12/night and included firewood! Have a splitting maul though.
Eventually made it through BC and The Yukon and re-entered the USA! I pressed on, northwards, and stopped in Tok. You've got to stop in Tok.
Fast Eddies is the restaurant and is quite good! The motel is utilitarian. Take note of the thick windows and well-sealed door and two electric baseboard heaters in one small room... I asked a local about the snow depth in winter and was told that there wasn't all that much snow, but that the temps had hit 70 degrees Below Zero the past winter...
Did laundry in Tok. Ate well there. Met cool people, mostly native/American Indian. Good people.
Pressed on to Fairbanks, and stayed at a motel near the airport. Flew out the next morning in this small plane, for a nine-day adventure:
Spent nine days in and around this small camp. It was amazing. We were north of the Arctic Circle, in the Brooks Range, and the sun never set the entire time I was there. It got low in the sky every evening, but never set. We had 24 hour daylight. Spent days glassing for game, hiked, crossed streams, and met with success. I won't post photos of dead critters here unless the admin approves. This is an overlanding forum, not a hunting forum.
Yup, that's me, crossing the stream once again. Pretty much a daily trek:
After a successful conclusion of the hunt, we flew back to Fairbanks, where I got my Jeep out of the parking area and headed south. Did a variation on the route, and turned north & east at Tok, heading to Dawson City, a 1890's gold rush town, incredibly well preserved:
This is the Top of the World Highway:
Campsite near Dawson City (not to be confused with Dawson Creek)
Saw an awful lot of wildlife along the way: caribou, black bear, wood buffalo, elk, moose... I kept my camera on the passenger seat ready to use, and that paid off several times:
Took in Banf National Park on my way back through British Columbia and made it back home, over three weeks and nearly 5,000 miles later. I'd highly recommend the trip! There is so much more to see... So much more I could show, but it has to fit here and my fingers are tired of typing now. I returned to Alaska last fall, to fly fish the silver salmon run, but went by air instead of driving. I'd made the trip by air many times, but had never driven the route until 2017.