Driving the Dempster in June can mean cold and snow but Karen and I were fortunate to arrive a couple of weeks after spring had settled in. With the warming, the surface melt creates bogs and shallow lakes that call millions of migrating birds and helps sustain animal life. The 24-hour sunlight inspires brilliant wildflowers and tender moss across the tundra, marking this amazing ecological transformation with swaths of colour.
The black spruce –stunted by the short growing season, some limbs and heads twisted from longtime winds — lean with the influence of permafrost.
We felt as though on the yellow brick road, an endless journey to uncertain wildness. The only highway north of the Arctic Circle in Canada, the Dempster weaves through vast isolated landscapes and stretches itself beyond sightlines. Remote with quiet beauty and change, we passed from boreal forest to tundra to fields of stunted spruce twisted and bowing before mountains that mimic the woolly mammoths that once roamed here.
The North is wide open big. Creeks like lakes, ravens the size of dogs. Grasshoppers and geese are smaller yet appear dense — more substantial than their southern cousins. We are all vulnerable in this place of quick harsh change. Shall we take on the task of re-wilding ourselves?