A GREAT YUKON WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE WITH A GRIZZLY BEAR!
Since we got to the Yukon we’ve seen many bears but last summer we got to experience our first real close encounter while backpacking in the Ogilvie mountains, close to Tombstone territorial park. We spotted the bear from far away, but it was right where we were supposed to go, so we took the time to observe it before deciding to let it know that we were here too. We started shouting at it and it took a couple tries to get it to stop foraging and get its attention. Our expectations were that it would turn around and run the other way… It stopped and starred right at us and started running towards us, jumping into the lake between us, swimming for a bit and then realizing that it was not the fastest way to get to us, got out of the water again. That’s when we realized that it was (fortunately) not that big, but our hearts were still pumping. We started getting our bear sprays and bear bangers ready because it was still coming straight at us. We were yelling and shouting as hard as we could but it didn’t seem to mind at all, that’s why we decided to give a try with a bear banger but that didn’t work either, it just sat down and looked back as it heard the echo in the valley behind it and then just kept on walking! We were just on a pass and the bear was where we wanted to go and that made us realized that maybe it was curious but that may be it was just trying to go where we came from. We decided to move away from the pass, to leave it enough room to get by and that’s what it did! He slowly walked by us probably 25 m away but didn’t show any signs of hostility. An experience that will stay with us for a long time!
WATCHING A BEAR AND A WOLF FIGHT OVER A CARCASS
Having the chance to witness a wolf and bear interaction, trying to get to a fresh sheep kill was one of the highlight of our last hiking trip to the Donjek glacier in the heart of Kluane National Park. Seeing a bear in the wild is not a common thing even in the Yukon and seeing a wolf is even rarer. So when you check out a wolf in the distance in the binoculars and then you realized that there is a bear around the next rock you get really excited! Seeing those two, fake charging at each other to win the carcass back and force was intense! In the end the bear left, followed by the wolf and it’s a second wolf that we didn’t even spotted at the time that got to the carcass! (we noticed the second wolf when watching the video again, that night in camp!)
OUR FIRST NORTHERN LIGHTS
Of course, when you get to the North in the middle of winter the one thing you can’t wait to see is the aurora borealis… This physical phenomenon due to solar eruption and their particles released to the atmosphere is really exceptionnal! It’s a magical and beautiful sight that you will never get tired of. Different colors, different speed and sometimes all around you! We never saw them before we got to Canada and we still love getting out when it’s a cold crispy night chasing aroung these beautiful aurora borealis.
This memory is more Milena’s as she was a beginner skier when she got to the Yukon. From Whitehorse, it only takes a couple hours to be in the mountains, backcountry skiing. So, of course we had to give it a try, it’s one of the local winter activity! We had very experimenced friends that were willing to take us on our first backcountry skiing trip! Milena had tried skiing only once near Whitehorse… let’s say that she was new to it but had a rough idea of what to expect ! But their are so many slopes to choose from, we picked the easy ones! we rode our snowmachines up and let them “ghost ride” back down, on their own. The engine and the deep snow eventually stop them! The sun wasn’t really with us that day but skiing in from of all these never-ending views made for a great day and great memories!
DRIVING ON THE ICE ROAD AND REACHING THE ARTIC OCEAN!
The first time we did this trip was with our Ford Escort. We had 5 days off work and decided that we could make it work! So, we pilled our warm sleeping bags, duvet cover and extra gas into our little car and left, driving north on the Klondike Highway and then the Dempster Highway. It was quite cold, around -25°c every morning. We would wake up in the back of the car with frost all around our faces and during the day the back windows wouldn’t even defrost… We were amazed by the Tombstone territorial park and the Dempster Highway, colours were soft and the white snowy peaks mixing with the turquoise of the visible ice was beautiful. We reached the ice road on day 3. That was a fun day! Driving on the Mackenzie river following the meanders on this road up to 50m wide in some places! And then at some point the trees disappear and so does the river bank and eventually you come upon a sign that says “Arctic Ocean”. That’s when you realise that beneath your wheels is an ocean! We reached Tuktoyaktuk and took a stroll in this little community which, at that time, was only connected to the rest of the world by air during the summer and ice road in the winter. We didn’t have much time to explore as we had two days to get back to Whitehorse. On our way back, we experienced the road closure between Fort McPherson and Eagle Plains. We got stuck for 24 hours because of extreme wind on the Yukon side of the Richardson Mountains. This made our winter expedition to the Arctic ocean even more complete!