Arctic Circle Expedition : March 16, 2007

Group crosses the arctic circle & reaches inuvik




Mar 16 – Inuvik, Northwest Territory


Those of you diligently following our journey north will wonder why we are posting from Inuvik – and a day late. 


Yesterday started well enough.  Early departure from Dawson (5am!) and we made great time up the Dempster Highway.  The temperatures were dropping rapidly.  At -35F Jim & Kim were scraping frost from the *inside* of the truck windshield and everyone had to snug up their radiator muffs.  


Eagle Plain is essentially the halfway mark to Inuvik, and we stopped for a brief fuel top-up before arriving at the Arctic Circle, 66'33"North Latitude.  The view is incredible.  The mountains were pure white and gently rounded peaks – centuries of high winds have actually eroded the peaks away.  


Check out the photos pages and you can see we spent a bit of time documenting our stop at this far north landmark.  Eric broke out the satellite phone and we made calls to our loved ones to brag "we made it".  And then it happened:  Mike's throttle cable linkage broke (apparently from metal fatigue).  Good news:  we're only 20 miles from the serive area we just left.  Bad news:  How the heck do we get the truck back there?  While Mike worked the satellite phone to raise a tow, Jim and Kim headed back to ensure that we could get help quickly.  In temperatures of -25F to -35F that we were experiencing, we were not going to waste any time.  The tow truck hadn't been running for months and so another solution was needed. Mike, Peter, Eric and Neal came up with the ingenious solution of removing the engine cowl and crafted a "manual" throttle controlled by Peter from the passenger seat.  Mike steered and Peter ran the gas.


Stan, the mechanic at Eagle Plain went right to work.  By this time it was getting late and we made the decision to camp there rather than risk the Dempster by darkness.  


The repair to the throttle was complete and no sooner had the truck left the warmth of the garage bay Mike discovered another problem- this time even more serious. The engine was leaking coolant from the block. We discovered it was likely coming from the freeze plug engine heater but would not be sure till morning. 


The group settled in to the small facility by the garage to stay the nite.


Repairs were begun in the morning and after using nearly every tool in the garage and fabricating a few others the truck was fully repaired by 2pm. 


We passed the Arctic Circle line (again) and made our way up the remainder of the Dempster Highway to Inuvik.  Unfortunately our problems continued. Jim’s truck slid off the road and became stuck deep in the snow. We were unable to pull or winch it out and ultimately it took a passing tractor trailer to yank it out. 


Once again on our way it was only several miles down the road that Jim’s truck began to overheat and he discovered some damage had been done in the earlier slide. After repairs to the fuel filter we were on our way. 


Inuvik finally! We arrived at 10pm, ate, got to see some Northern Lights and went to bed.  On to Tuktomorrow.