With bridges out and a driving rain, just getting to the Canol Trail proved an adventure in itself.
We left Whitehorse in a pickup, our quads trailered behind us, in the middle morning, up the Klondike Highway to Route 4 and the Canol Road. Nothing more than a dirt road, the Canol Road turns into the Canol Trail some 350 miles northeast of Whitehorse, near the Continental Divide.
“Why do they keep up such a long dirt road out to the middle of nowhere,” I asked our driver, Charlie McLaren, owner of Shadow Lake Expeditions.
“Mining prospecting,” he said, eyes ahead on the seemingly endless road.
“There’s gold in these hills!” yelled F&S video editor Mike Shea, my sole companion on this three-week trip into the bush. He had woken up one too many times, I think, with a head crack on window glass from the long and bumpy road.
At the one-horse town of Ross River we took a ferry over the Pelly. It was 10 hours into the drive and we expected another four to go. Time seemed to warp–so many endless trees zipping by the window–then the mountains cropped up along the horizon.
When we finally made it to the Itsi Creek Bridge it was the middle of the night, but Mike and I could hardly tell. This far north the summer sun burns around the clock.
The bridge down, this would be the start of our real adventure. We’d have to get across the creek on our quads, then push through the final 40 miles of dirt road, until the trailhead, and down the Canol Trail.