Day 5 (evening)
Eagle Plains the Oasis in the wilderness is an interested place to say the least, shortly after arriving I discovered that the road north was closed due to high winds and large snow drifts between Eagle Plains and James creek; a common occurrence on the Dempster in the winter months. There were at least 15 tractor trailer rigs lined up waiting to get through as well as a number of private vehicles and two young adventurers Matt and Hendrik who were skiing from Whitehorse to Old Crow; check them out: http://www.expedition-polaris.com/
Dinner in the Eagle Plains restaurant was excellent so I ordered seconds, then listened the story behind Expedition Polaris, and their adventure’s of skiing up from Whitehorse to Eagle Plains and learned of their plans to ski to Old Crow and Inuvik.
After dinner I went next door to the lounge and joined a group of ice road truckers for a beer before the 10 o-clock closing time. Most of the truckers had passed me along the road and commented on their surprise to see a cyclist this time of year, and complimented me on the fact that I pulled off the road and waited for them to pass. A lot of touring cyclists may not realize it, but cyclists make tractor trailer drivers very nervous, particularly on icy gravel roads. Big rigs can’t make sudden adjustments and can’t get too far over either side of the road. It’s safest to stay as far right as possible.
I had a very enjoyable hour or so listening to the truck driver tell tales of life on the Dempster as it turns out one was a friend of a friend and another worked for a company I worked for many years ago (small world).
I also met a fuel truck driver who had rolled his B-Train two days previous near the Arctic Circle crossing, apparently that was the two Cliffs Towing wreckers I had seen earlier. He told me that a special response team had been flown in to pump out his trailer and off load the fuel into another set of trailers, a bit later another incident (involving two trucks) occurred further north and his tractor had been left at the interpretive pull off near the Arctic Circle.
It was early to bed, with hopes that the road would be open in the morning. It didn’t take long to get to sleep.
Unfortunately I awoke to early at 5am, a little disoriented, it was still dark and I was surrounded by ghostly apparitions, I thought I was in my tent?? As the cobwebs cleared I realized I was in a warm motel bed; not in my tent, I was half asleep and confused. Slowly my thoughts aligned with the present and I realized that the Ghostly apparitions was just my camping gear hanging to dry from the light fixtures, furniture and curtain rods etc. I rolled over and went back to sleep. I slept in and at 9:30 I woke and headed to the restaurant for the highly acclaimed ‘truckers version’ of Bacon and Eggs and was told by the waiter that the road was indeed open, (good news). Back to the room to repack my panniers and load them on the bike; ordered a Clubhouse Sandwiches to-go (more bacon) and hit the road, (or not) didn’t get far; the road was closed again. Seems they had the plows and graders open a hole big enough to get the stranded truckers through one lane only and then closed it again to get the job done right. I missed it!
Guess I get another night at the Oasis of the Wilderness!