(Fort McPherson (FM): Day 3)

We got up and evaluated. We had a very nice and comfortable night, we actually slept in. We need to make the most of our sleep time, as we can only stay here one more night. Room cost is a premium; I have paid less for a room at the Marriott in the heart of Washington D.C.

We have been adopted by a Native woman that is well traveled and highly respected in the Native communities. Her name is Roberta and she is the equivalent of the subsistence manager for the Indian nation Tr’ondek Hwech’in. She is staying with a friend in FM. She has come by and spent time chatting about the Native battles with the Yukon government over development of the Peel River. We also spoke of how the Native groups are organized in Canada and how that differs from Alaska. She has boated most of the distance of the Yukon River (no small feat), and will be visiting us in Anchorage in a few weeks.

We went to the grocery store and picked up a few things. Canadian Kit-Kats are the bomb. The prices are incredible. The conversion rate from US to Canadian currency is nearly the same, so when you look at a price, it makes the mouth drop open.

Image of two half gallons of milk on a shelf priced at $7.69 each

Half gallon of milk $7.69

Image of Sugar Crisp box of cereal priced at $9.75

Small box of cereal $9.75

We rented videos because we knew we were going to be here for a while, and the B&B has a DVD player, but no satellite reception – it is down due to the winds. The woman told me if the ferry opens unexpectedly and we find ourselves having to bug out of town quickly, leave the videos in a plastic bag on the loading dock of the grocery store.

Coming out of the grocery store we met up with fellow stranded German travelers Zig and Peter. These Euros have been having a bit of a rough go on the road. Peter was a bit emotional, on the verge of tears. He said it took them three years to save enough money for this trip, and now they are stuck and unable to do their trip.

Image of Michael standing outside a shop talking to several other people

The Euro’s – Peter and Zig on the right of Michael.

They rented a motorhome. Michael helped them put the mirror back on because it kept vibrating loose with road conditions, and they had no tools. We carry an assortment of tools on our bikes. On top of that it was a dry community and they had finished their beer! We told them we may become neighbors in a day or too and would look for them at the campground.

Image of the side of a large motorhome covered in dirt

Peter and Zig’s rental rig, and probably our new neighbors in the campground.

We got gas because now that we are at a supply standstill on the road, gas prices are going up. While at the gas station, we ran into Dave, a truck driver. We chatted with Dave about road conditions; the truckers know the most. Apparently, the folks in Eagle Plains are the hub of accurate information and tend to know more than even the Canadian Mounties. Dave echoed what Roberta said – the provinces do not talk to each other very well, information will be sketchy. Dave is the one that gave us the most info about the current situation.

Image of a trucker (Dave) standing outside of his large mud covered truck

Dave, the one good source of info in FM

The washout occurred at a place called Rocky Creek. One of the culverts broke loose and the road washed out due to unusually high water from all the rain. The culvert floated downstream and banked. In order to repair this, special equipment must be brought in from Dawson, first to x-ray the culvert to ensure safe re-use, and second to haul it back up stream. All the appropriate equipment has arrived on scene, but now they are waiting for the river level to decrease in order to start. The road crews were anticipating a delay as long as ten days, but may have a single lane open to let the stranded people through. All this is weather dependent. The forecast for the next few days is clear. There is hope! We thanked Dave for the update and headed back to our little house.

Image of a large washout in a large creek

We are on the wrong side of this washout at Rock Creek – note the culvert downstream.

Someone came by to do their laundry; a cement truck driver. The Native couple that own the house do not live onsite. They are a nice elderly couple, he is disabled and apparently this provides them a source of income. The owners gave permission to the driver to do his laundry. He shared info as well, and between him and Dave, we had a clearer picture of what was going on. The Canadians are worse at updating their websites then the Federal government is.

Roberta came by and invited us to tour the town with her. We hopped in her beautiful Ford Raptor pick-up truck (apparently only six are imported in the Yukon). First thing we did was go check out the situation at the ferry dock. Not looking good at all!

Image of a ferry on the shore next to a large yellow tractor

Grounded ferry at Peel River

We stood on the north bank of the Peel River and watched trees and large debris float by. The ferry men sat with us and we all watched the debris drift downstream, get snagged on the cable lines of the ferry, and hit the ferry. One ferry man says to us, “Go to Inuvik.”

Image of Michael and Judy standing with three men (ferry crew) all smiling

Ferry crew was amused and thought we should go back to Inuvik.

The ferry guys lived on the other side of the river. They could use a small boat to maneuver around the debris and get home. We were stuck. There was a single motorcycle rider stuck on the other side of the bank. We were better off than him. He could not go south because of the road washout, he could not go north, because of the ferry being out. We could at least go back to Inuvik. The ferry man took pity on the single motorcycle rider and moved him into his house and away from the mosquitoes. The ferry man laughed and repeated to Roberta,”Go to Inuvik.” Roberta agreed with us; we did not dare lose what ground we had struggled to accomplish.

Image of several small boats on the side of the water next to very large debris

Ferry guys’ transportation home; notice the size of the debris next to their boats.

The Peel River ferry has a cable that goes from bank to bank due to the swift current. When the water level got high they stopped the ferry. The water level overtook the cable. With all the debris coming down the river it snagged on the cable and caused a log jam in front of the ferry. The operators wanted to drop the cable, but management would not let them because the cable costs 10k. Now the cable is stuck and snagged and stretched. They will probably have to drop the cable.

Image of two men posing with smiles on their faces

Ferry guys

We watched the guy jump to the boat from a bulldozer. We saw and learned everything we needed to know. It appears that the ferry crossing is going to be the bigger deal. This means that they need to string a new cable across the river (we are really hoping they have that in stock), cut the old cable, and free up the log jam. They also need to evaluate the ferry for damage.

We drove around town. It took ten minutes. Saw everything to see: two grocery stores, one church, one hotel, two gas stations, and the tent factory.

Image of a table inside a small restuarant

The one restaurant in town

We went to the tent factory and watched them make tents.

Image of the inside of a tent making factory

Supervising the tent making in Fort McPherson

Image of the inside of a tent making factory

Specializing in large canvas outfitting, but also bags and small items if you ask.

The cement truck driver was doing laundry and asked if he could get us anything. We jokingly asked if he could get us Lead Dog Ale beer from the Yukon (sold in Inuvik). He made a call and the beer was on its way. He left with clean laundry and later returned with our beer a few hours later! Got to love truckers!

The motorcycles were parked out front. The villagers were coming by to meet us. The village kids are riding their bikes over here to check out our motorcycles and read the stickers on the side of the cases. They all want to know where we have been.

We both emailed our bosses and told them we have no idea when we will return to work. We sat around and chatted with Roberta and Art most of the evening, and watched a couple of videos. Only two of the videos worked. It took hours to watch the third video because it kept hitching. We had time.

The pucker factor
About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.

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