Day Trip to Tuktoyaktuk, NT!!

Howdy! Yesterday my friends invited me for a drive to Tuktoyaktuk. It was on my list of things to do while living here! So we left Inuvik around 3:3opm, drove about 180km down the ice road to Tuk. We got there at about 6:00pm (quite a few stops for pictures as you’ll see!). We drove around town and they pointed out the school, arena, church, stanton (same grocery store as here!) and the workers camps from the gas/oil boom that are mostly abandoned now. My friends boyfriend was going to Tuk to go on a hunting trip so we went to his friends/hunting guides house and met them and the 3 other hunters who came up from Alberta to hunt muskox!  Then we got the keys to go into the Tuktoyaktuk Ice House. This was definitely one of the coolest and most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life I took HUNDREDS of pictures and they don’t do it justice at all but it’ll give you  a bit of an idea. So the ice house is basically a year-round freezer for the people of Tuk. It’s kind of a huge cave with tunnels and rooms about 30 feet underground. It’s cold down there… very cold! There’s one room for each family in Tuktoyaktuk. To get in you have to climb down a very icy, very slippery 30′ ladder down into the permafrost. Each room is about 10×10 feet, some a little bigger, some a little smaller. Luckily I was short enough to be able to stand upright through most of the tunnels and rooms so they’re about 5’6/5’7 high I’d say, because I’m 5’4 and I was barely clearing the ceilings. Living up here you hear “this that and the other thing” about permafrost all the time… but you never really SEE it… well in the ice house you’re IN the permafrost and you can see all the layers of  ice and sand. It’s AMAZING. It just looks like layers of rock but when you get close up it’s very clear ice. Mind=BLOWN. I can’t really find the words to express the sheer AWESOMENESS of the Tuk ice house… it’s indescribably beautiful. The ice crystals on the ceiling are all perfectly shaped and all unique. You can snap them off the ceiling and they feel just like very fragile plastic and when they drop to the ground they sound exactly like shattering glass. I seriously could have stayed in there for HOURS just looking at each individual crystal. It still amazes me that water freezes and forms the crystals in PERFECTLY straight lines and perfect hexagons. Crazy.

Well I can only say so much about how awesome my day was there… but a picture says a thousand words, right? Here’s a few thousand words for ya then!

IMG_1266  This is just as we got on the ice road, still in Inuvik

IMG_1269  A little cabin tucked into the hills

IMG_1270 IMG_1274  Really awesome pattern in the hills

IMG_1277  Can you tell we’re nearing the treeline? very few trees/bushes. and at one point you just notice there’s NOTHING but snow/hills.

IMG_1281  Ice road!! The pictures don’t give an accurate showing of the DEPTH of the ice unfortunately but they still look cool!IMG_1283  Feet upon feet of ice!IMG_1286  a look down the ice road while still in Inuvik (the pictures are kind of jumbled, silly blog)

IMG_1307 IMG_1309 IMG_1315  hey look it’s me!IMG_1316 Beautifully sunny day!IMG_1300  Since it’s getting “warmer” the ice road is beginning to crack, it’s still safe to drive on but you have to be careful. Some of the cracks are wider than me! They could really screw up your alignment.

IMG_1301  This one’s the width of my foot!

IMG_1303  They’re all filled in with snow but some of them are a few FEET deep!

IMG_1306 IMG_1320 IMG_1324  I tried digging this one out a little

IMG_1326 IMG_1336  a really smooth part of the roadIMG_1318  “swimming point” an old camp from the oil/gas boom

IMG_1332 IMG_1333 IMG_1334  more pictures of the BEAUTIFUL ice road

IMG_1337 IMG_1341IMG_1378  we made it to Tuktoyaktuk!IMG_1383IMG_1393  random playing card in the snow outside the ice house

IMG_1340 IMG_1346IMG_1347IMG_1348IMG_1349 Yeah, I’m doing ice road push ups. I’m THAT guy.

IMG_1395 Time to go down into the Ice house. Yup, that small shack is the entrance.

IMG_1397 Not a great place for claustrophobics

 IMG_1398 Or people with a fear of ladders, or dark spaces. (you need flashlights/headlamps as you’ll see in upcoming pictures)

 IMG_1405 Blythe climbing down the ladder first! IMG_1406 right at the bottom of the ladder

IMG_1408 blythe going ahead of me

IMG_1413pretty crystals!

IMG_1421cool rocks eh? WRONG, permafrost!

IMG_1431  Hello from 30′ underground!IMG_1434 another picture of the ice

IMG_1443 in one of the rooms… something was killed in here…

IMG_1444 clearly it was some type of bird

IMG_1448blythe!IMG_1454IMG_1465IMG_1469IMG_1472IMG_1475IMG_1488IMG_1489IMG_1477IMG_1506standing on the Arctic Ocean!

IMG_1507IMG_1508IMG_1509IMG_1513IMG_1519IMG_1350IMG_1521  The ice road sign heading back to Inuvik

IMG_1535  now THAT’S  big crack in the road. Your potholes ain’t got nothin’ on this, Saskatoon! 😛 (my brother and his wife live in pothole-ridden Saskatchewan)IMG_1356  A view of the pingos from the ice road. Pingos are land-covered frozen lakes that have been pushed up through the permafrost. They create these cool little mounds that pop right up out of nowhere! Tuktoyaktuk actually has the most pingos in the world! IMG_1371  tuk’s schoolIMG_1373  IMG_1374  an abandoned rig from the oil and gas days

IMG_1376  just a random pretty log cabin houseIMG_1440 The doorways into the rooms are pretty short, I had to squat down (pictures are all jumbled up)

IMG_1505 Standing on the Arctic Ocean!!

IMG_1547 Driving home into the sunset… all those little colourful bits under the sun are chunks of ice that pop up through the cracks of the ice road.

iceroadpana tukoceanpano There’s a couple panoramics that the internet spliced together for me! First one’s the ice road still in Inuvik and the second is the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyaktuk!

Some of the best pictures I got of the crystals were taken with my iPhone… crazy! so here they are…

IMG_0684 IMG_0688 IMG_0691 IMG_0708 IMG_0712

So! There’s my awesome day trip to Tuktoyaktuk, the ice house and the Arctic Ocean! The Ice house is high on my list of most beautiful places! If you ever manage to make it up this far, I highly recommend a day trip to Tuk to see it!!

And a HUGE thank you to my friends Blythe and Ryan for inviting me for the day!! You guys rock!!

Hugs & Kisses from afar

xoxo

Laura

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