My dad and I went to Yellowknife in July about 7 years ago to visit some friends. This is way up past the 60th parallel in North West Territories, Canada. We had a couple of days and my dads buddies 6 year old Ford Explorer Sport Trac with only 15,000kms as a vehicle to get around. Not many roads up there so cars are pretty low kms. Bonus: you can drive ATV’s, snowmobiles and dirt bike on city streets though!

My dad and I planned a day trip. Our final destination was a beautiful hiking trail with a waterfall that we wanted to check out. This is two “city slickers” driving solo with no directions. All we had was my dads buddy saying “follow the road out of town”.... okay and then what?! he replies “there is only one road out of town, when you get to the end of the road, the hiking trail is on your right. Watch for bears.” I’m thinking “shit, bears” but didn’t want to seem soft so I said “only one road in or out?!”

People up there work with what they have to get around. Housing can be tough because of the permafrost/rock so double wide’s are pretty common. These are generally hearty people who are used to -40 before the windchill. We started seeing stuff like this as soon as we got out of town and knew we were not back home:

and its van cousin:

These things were epic! in a somewhat seedy, northern way.

sure enough, there is only one road out of town (I don’t know why I find this so amusing). we follow it for a half an hour. the drive is EPIC! nice sloping grades on hard gravel/dirt and they were super wide. Think of it as a super fast rally stage. The trees are pretty stunted and don’t really get past 12-15' in height thanks to the long cold season. The scenery was truly amazing. Very rustic and it really made you feel small. No radio reception, no satellite reception, no cell service. The only evidence we saw of “man” was these signs every couple of kilometers that said “no hunting within 500 meters of the roadway. Just what you wanted to see if your a city kid alone in the woods.... We kept talking about the Frankenstein trucks we saw when all of a sudden we see this from about 200 feet away around a blind corner:

Jam the brakes and lock up on gravel (not fun in someone elses car when you are in the middle of nowhere) and come to a stop just before hitting it.

Our hike lasted exactly 32 seconds. There are no words to describe how bad the bugs in the North West Territories get in July. Moose have been known to commit suicide by throwing themselves off rocks and I believe it. Remember: we are city people used to smog/pollution killing all the bugs.

Anyways we get back to buddies house and I ask him why the sign says “road closed” as apposed to “dead end”. He tells me the road is so wide because of the ice truckers. That barrier we stopped at is the beginning of the ice highway. In July it is a lake.

We didn’t want to tell everyone that we drove all that way to go for a hike and then chickened out because the bugs would literally suck us dry... instead we said we went for a drive to see where the ice highway starts.

If you can ever get upto Yellowkinfe I highly recommend it. Nothing will humble a person quite like the great expanse that is Northern Canada.