Our decision to travel to Tuktoyaktuk, located in the Northwest Territories of Canada, for our summer vacation was based on many factors. Initially, we were supposed to be travelling to Iceland, but one of our travel companions tore his Achilles tendon and was unable to make the journey. Having just purchased a Pando 2.0 from Off Grid Trailers we thought what better way to test the trailer and ourselves than a journey to the farthest point in Northern Canada accessible by road.
We packed up our Yukon XL Wilbur and our Pando 2.0 (Patches) and headed North to the unknown. The Arctic has always seemed like an unattainable destination but has also captivated our imaginations. So, with only a week to prepare and pack, we set out to make the journey. Luckily, packing was made easy with ample storage; the Pando provides two fridges and water. We knew we’d have the comforts of home while being so remote in Canada’s north.
The trip seemed to start after leaving the Liard River area. We travelled to Watson Lake, YT, then a quick stop at the Sign Post Forest to see if we could find the sign we had put up the summer of 2017. We did!
The second stop in Watson Lake was the visitor center to collect information on our trip up the North Canol as well as the Yukon Passport book.
After 8 hours of being on the road basically by ourselves, we reached home for the night — a beautiful Yukon Territory campground called LaPie Canyon. We backed the Pando onto a site by the river, while Heather and Cicely explored the beauty around us. I opened the kitchen of the Pando. After cooking a delicious meal on the Pando camp stove, we made use of the free firewood and turned in for the night being lulled to sleep by the flowing river beside us.
The North Canol proved to be a challenge, averaging 12 to 15 km/h the Pando pulled gracefully behind Wilbur as if the two were one. The Timbren suspension soaked up the bumps and the max coupler hitch allowed the Pando to pick its own path without ever feeling out of control.
Deciding to turn around after 4.5 hours of driving and only having travelled 114 km was a hard one but unfortunately, time was limited.
After leaving the North Canol the Dempster Highway was next. The Dempster Highway started out as a mild gravel road, but it quickly opened to majestic mountains and scenery like nothing we had ever seen before. Tombstone Territorial Park was majestic and wild, with mountains so close you’d think you could reach out your window and touch them.
Stopping for a stretch at a roadside pullout the Pando drew a crowd. We opened doors and hatches to show off our little home and inspire others to get into the lifestyle that we have come to love.
We said our goodbyes and wished safe travels to each other and continued our journey. After supper in Eagle Plain the Jonson’s, Patches the Pando and Wilbur crossed over the Arctic Circle around 7 pm.
With the sun still high in the sky, we continued down the Dempster to our campsite for the night. Once we reached our campsite set up was a breeze. Having eaten in Eagle Plain all I had to do was open the rear hatch and grab a nice cold beer. With the fire roaring, we talked about adventures we’d had and what was still to come.
Cicely and I started the morning off with what we call the Wilbur walk around. Vehicles and trailers are pushed to the limits on these roads. We’d check tires, fluids and suspension components to ensure a pricey tow bill wasn’t in our future. Wilbur and the Pando passed inspection as always, and we continued north. After travelling for several hours, our destination for the night was in sight. Inuvik is a vibrant city in an otherwise desolate landscape. Due to a shorter travel day and unseasonably warm temperatures, we decided to set up the 23Zero roof top tent and sleep in that for the night.
All a little excited with what tomorrow had to bring, little sleep was gotten. Cicely and I conducted the Wilbur walkaround after coffee and breakfast, the camp was dismantled, and we were off.
Stopping in at the Information Center in Inuvik, our next destination was Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Ocean. Having just opened in 2017 the road was rough and slow going. Having seen what the Pando can do however put our minds at ease and by 2:00pm we had reached our destination, The Arctic Ocean!
Camping in Tuk is bare minimum, to say the least, they didn’t expect the influx of tourists and showed it in how you are treated. A parking lot style spot costs you $63.00 Canadian but the memories and adventure to get there is priceless and besides, you are camped right on the Arctic Ocean.
Having put our vehicle our Off-Grid Pando and ourselves to the test with this impromptu trip to the North, I’d say we passed with flying colors. The Pando never once disappointed! It kept us warm at night, it allowed all the conveniences of home with the back kitchen, and there was ample storage. The best feeling we had was it brought otherwise strangers together as a community in a way we would never have expected.
After all, isn’t that what Overlanding is all about? Like-minded individuals seeking adventure. Maybe even a Pack O’ Pando’s that we could travel with and share these memories as a community.
– The Jonson family