Pressing on to the Yukon
We fully checked and topped off the vehicles with the last drops of super unleaded gasoline they would get for more than a week. Then we were ready to head into the Arctic.
Helpful tips from the locals included:
- Drive with your winter coat and boots on so, if you crash, you won’t immediately freeze to death
- Carry candles for warmth in case of a breakdown or storm
- Pack canned dog food (or whale meat) for high-energy-content food
Instinctively, driving became more survival than fun. In the event of a mishap – an animal impact or, worse, a rollover – we would be in serious trouble with help potentially hundreds of miles away. There were other cars on the road each day, but you never knew when the last truck passed, when the next storm would hit, or when a brake caliper might freeze up.
The Arctic is not cheap, and our budget was starting to be stretched thin. Our destination still loomed somewhere over the horizon, and we had a challenging road ahead.
Like All Good Explorers
We left the last fuel stop at Eagle Plains and confidently headed north – the only direction we knew by now. As the WRX was hit with an arctic blast of ice, the words, “Should we turn back?” crackled through our two-way VHF radio. The cars rocked with each gust, and our pace had dropped to 5 or 0 mph. “Is this when we light the candles and eat the dog food?” I barked into the radio.
Twilight was fading fast, and the arctic night had a firm grip on our team. The four members of our group – Brian, Mark, Kate, and I – sat in our separate vehicles tethered only by a radio wave. With both directions equally terrifying, we followed the compass north like all good explorers. We were driving powerful all-wheel drive Subaru vehicles, after all. Once we realized we had almost 600 horsepower between us, the decision was even more obvious.
The next couple of hours were intense, to say the least – mostly high revs in first gear, creeping along what we assumed was the road.
The words “ARCTIC CIRCLE” came into view, and we pulled over. It was a shockingly cold -20 degrees with high winds. Yet a stop was mandatory. After a few clicks of the camera’s shutter, we ran back to the cars for cover. We only had about 200 miles left and, after seven days on the road, 200 miles seemed like a quick drive to the store.
It was late when we finally reached Inuvik, Northwest Territories, and we forked over full retail price for a room at the Mackenzie Inn. The WRX had a frozen fuel fill vent and balked at being filled with gas. The only remedy was a heated garage for the night. Meanwhile the WRX STI bravely stared down the arctic night with the howl of sled dogs in the distance.