Kate’s Diary. Installment One. Inuvik to Whitehorse
Thursday 2 September 2010, Filed in: General
It never went dark. In winter it is dark all the time here and the Northern Lights can be seen. Inuvik has a great swimming pool with a fast river, a huge hot tub and a water slide. We also went to see the giant greenhouse where the people grow their vegetables.
The Dempster Highway is 500 miles long and very rough and covered in loose gravel. Our trailers were very heavy and wobbly and at first we fell off a few times. (especially Mum) It was also very dusty. In Inuvik all the cars are brown, even the ones that are supposed to be white! When a big truck comes there is a big cloud of dust and it looks like a steam train coming. We had to stop and look the other way so rocks didn’t hit us and it took a while before we could see where we were going. The mosquitos were very bad and we had to wear bug nets a lot. I got many bites. (In my diary which I wrote in pencil I stuck a mosquito here but I cant send mosquitos over the internet)
We saw beaver and arctic hare and porcupine and ground squirrels. The hares turn white in the winter so they are camouflaged in the snow but they were grayish brown now.
The people who first lived here are called Gwitchin. They still live here now. We stayed with a family for three days and I made friends with a girl called Angel who was 10 years old. Arctic people don’t live in igloos atall! The houses here are wooden and very much like ours. In winter they go out on skidoos and dog sleds and camp on the ice. We had arctic sea trout, caught from a hole drilled in the ice. We also had caribou meat. We crossed the Mackenzie River on a ferry. It is the longest River in Canada. There were many fish camps here where people were drying the fish on racks and smoking them over a fire. A man gave us a bag of dried fish strips. Mum liked them but I didn’t.
Then we started to climb up into the tundra. There are no trees there but lots of flowers. The ground underneath the tundra is always frozen. It is called permafrost. We crossed an imaginary line around the earth at 66 degrees North. We saw lots of inukshucks her. These are little stone men. The people used them to give directions when they were following the migrating caribou herds. They are easy to make. I made one myself. When we got to the top of Windy Pass I found some old caribou hides left over from a camp last winter. I was going to take some with me but Mum found lice in them.
At Tombstone Campground we watched a slideshow by a famous photographer called Igor. Afterwards he took us for a drive up the hill and we got to watch lots of fox kits playing and jumping and rolling around together. Most of them were red but some had black stripes and a white tip on their tail. We also got to watch a big bull moose diving for sweetgrass in Two Moose Lake.
We went to Dawson City where there was a famous gold rush about 100 years ago. We went to the museum and I learned how to pan for gold. I found six pieces. Dad bought me my own pan and I tried in the River Yukon but never got any.
We have found hundreds of sweet, juicy wild strawberries on the side of the road. Some were as big as my thumb nail and we kept stopping to pick them. We were not the only ones picking them. I spotted a grizzly bear beside the road. It heard me and my dad talking and ran off down the bank. It was the fourth bear that we have passed.
There are forest fires here in the summer. You can tell when there is one nearby because the sun is like a big red ball. Sometimes the trees are just like burnt black sticks for miles but the ground between them is a thick carpet of pink flowers. They are called fireweed.
We went to a café where they sell world famous cinnamon buns. They were over 20cm from one side to the other!
We camped by a lake and at night we could hear the coyotes howling and the call of the loon which we think is a sort of duck.
I have played my fiddle a lot. A girl called Carissa taught me to play ‘Boil Those Cabbages Down’ and her dad made sourdough bread. We called him Sourdough Mac.
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