Jonathan and Kirti Walpole's 950 km canoe journey across Northwest Territories and Nunavut in July and August of 2014

Made it to Yellowknife!

We are finally in Yellowknife. It was a loooong drive! The only road into Yellowknife was closed today, due to forest fires, but fortunately for us, this happened just moments after we passed by the fire. The fire was almost at the road, with towering columns of dense smoke almost engulfing the road, as we drove by. Moments later we heard on the radio that the road was closed. That was close!

Aside from that we spent hour upon hour driving on straight roads with wide grassy shoulders and dense forests of small trees. It was hundreds of kilometers between gas stations. This aspect of the drive was pretty monotonous apart from a few points of significant interest - such as crossing the mighty Mackenzie river, which is enormous, our first views of the Great Slave Lake, which is enormous too, and this impressive and unexpected little waterfall on the Slave river. This really appeared out of nowhere!

The other memorable aspects of the past two days driving were the sheer scale of it all, and the ferocious swarms of horse flies that would engulf the car the moment we stopped anywhere, or even slowed down. This only started happening once we were in the Northwest Territories. Filling up at Fort Providence was a bit of a trial. Soon, however, we realized that they were really more interested in the car, and the dead insects all over it, than in us. Away from the car they didn't bother us at all, but summoning up the courage to get out of the car was the challenge (and back into it). Before we realized this we were marvelling at the toughness of Canadian flaggers who would stand out in the road dressed only in shorts and a T shirt and apparently not bat an eye to the bugs, while we cowered in our car surrounded by hoards of ferocious horse flies hammering on the windows. Also, while we were driving, the sound of bugs on the windscreen sounded like driving in a rainstorm.

Oh, and we saw a huge bison right by the roadside.

We are staying in Yellowknife with Chuck and Muriel Tolley, who are wonderful people. We have only done a brief tour so far, but Yellowknife seems to be a very nice town. Oh, and our float plane pilot, Dave Oleson, has very generously agreed to honor our arrangements and fly us out to the Hanbury river, despite having lost his home and guest cabin to a forest fire just a couple of days ago. What a guy!