24-Aug-2003 -- Ingrid and I had several goals for our month-long trip along the Dempster Highway in the northern Yukon this summer - among them were: see the Fall colors on the tundra, see the northern lights, pick berries, do two or three short backpacks in the Ogilvie and Richardson Mountains, and see what confluence points we could visit.
Poor weather had discouraged us from visiting the more southern confluence points we passed, but after arriving at Wright Pass, the border between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, we decided to go for 67N 137W. We had crossed the Arctic Circle a couple days before and were enjoying the open, treeless, tundra vistas of the Richardson Mountains.
In face of a persistent wind and drizzly, foggy conditions we loaded our backpacks and prepared for a couple nights out if necessary. Heading southeast from the pass we rounded the shoulder of the mountain ridge and contoured south across lichen-covered rocks and mushy tussocky tundra. We decided to stay high as long as possible to avoid even slower boggy ground. By 4pm the rain began in earnest and we set up our tent about two miles away from the confluence point.
The next morning in light rain we headed eastward from camp with the GPS as our guide. The fog layer was often low and our destination was not generally visible. After some bog-dodging and very slow hiking over gorgeous but tiring tussock tundra (blanketed with blueberries, cloudberries, lingonberries, weird mushrooms and beautiful lichens) we got to the top of “confluence view bluff” where the clouds pulled back enough to see our goal. At first we thought it might be in the middle of a small lake, but the actual point turned out to be 20 yards across a stream in a stand of low willows and dwarf birch. 67N is the Yukon/Northwest Territories border, so we marked the spot with both a blue and a red bandana for the two territories.
As we headed back the next day, the rain let up and we crossed some beautiful Fall-colored gravel banks. Recent bear scat and fresh caribou and wolf tracks were spotted but no live wildlife appeared. Tundra travel is always much slower than you expect but with the colors so great we were glad we had the chance to wander for most of three days in this very scenic area.