Ontario to Yukon, Day Nine

Watson Lake, Yukon to Whitehorse, Yukon

438 kms, 6 hours

We have arrived safe and sound at our destination, Hidden Valley B&B in Whitehorse. It’s been a bit of a gruelling experience these last nine days. Tomorrow we can sleep in, we don’t have to pack, and we’re having breakfast at 9am, which, in Ontario time, is fabulously late.

We were up bright and early this morning and on the road before 8am. I say “bright” and early but in reality it was pitch black. Ten minutes into our journey the Garmin, who we’d left in the car overnight, tried to direct us down some random unpaved road. Fortunately there is one highway all the way from Watson Lake to Whitehorse so we ignored her and she eventually gave us trying to sabotage us and re-routed us the right way. By 9am the sun had still not risen and the dim light made the frost-encrusted covered steel bridges seem unreal.

There was very little traffic, and the few trucks on the road were headed the same way we were. We followed one of the truck’s lead when we hit some very rough road by driving on the other side of the road. Since we were following a massive truck we figured any oncoming traffic would hit him first and it was much better than the bone-jarring 50 km/h drive it would have been otherwise.

We stopped for gas in Ranchero where we encountered two locals in the restaurant. These were the kind of men you would expect to find in a place like the Yukon; bearded, weathered and tough-looking. But very friendly. Well, one was. The older gentleman never said a word but just looked wise and weathered. From the conversation with the younger man (by younger I mean he was maybe in his late sixties or early seventies) we gleaned he was the owner of the place, he often rescues truck drivers who have gone off the road, he loves it here and one year it was -60 C and his pipes froze while he was on a rescue mission and he had them all replaced with plastic.

He kindly gave Ozzie a free juice. Ozzie, in the less than gracious way of three-year-old boys replied by saying “I’m hungry.” This did not phase them in the slightest although Richard’s subsequent request for a “bacon butty” brought on some confused looks.

A “bacon butty” is a British delicacy, a sandwich with just bread, butter and bacon. Kind of like an egg McMuffin without the egg or cheese. Why you ask? I have no idea. Almost every Brit I’ve ever met who discovers I am not a fan of the bacon butty looks at me like I’ve got three heads. Anyway, we ended up with egg, bacon and cheese on a bun. Now that I do like and in the cold mountain air it tasted like the best thing I’ve eaten in long time.

Past Ranchero we saw two moose, standing on a frozen river, curious small snow white birds that look like they are straight out of a fairy tale and more curious tiny birds that look like pebbles on the road but fly off as you approach. Now and then one of these birds waits on the road for so long, you start to think it really is a pebble but it flies off at the last possible second and makes you flinch.

The closer we came to Whitehorse, the better the roads became. I even drove the last few hundred kilometres towards Whitehorse, and then past it as we made our way to the B&B in Hidden Valley. We are here now, having wound down a bit and toasted our arrival at long last.

Tomorrow, we explore!