Rob Hallstrom, Rex Hibbert and Paul Dick, call themselves the “3 Old Guys.” They’ve embarked on a 4,000 mile adventure traveling from Grand Rapids, MN to Fairbanks, Alaska via three equally prepped 2023 Norseman X 800 Arctic Cat snowmobiles. You can follow their journey on their Facebook page: 3 Old Guys Ride To Alaska. If you don’t follow Facebook, Ive recapped Day 1-8 of their trip from their Facebook posts and Days 9-22 below. Ill try to do this after every week until they complete their journey. – Kale
Day 9 / Mar 14
They made it to Southend! THANK YOU to the amazing community that helped us direct them to the trail, escorted them into town, and provided such a warm welcome- sledding is a team sport
3 Old Guys ride to Alaska …they made it to southend sask Canada….in cabin wood heat….the locals went to meet them ….locals help them to fine the trail….just before the snow storm hit….we will help them to fine the route to wollaton lake …our visitors receive dry meat…and traditional medicine herbs…rat root…from elder to use on the journey…rcmp member come to check on them…local trapper come visit them…We visit exchange stories from the land and trip…Still snow fall like crazy…snow fall warning for few days could be in their favour they thinking taking the highway north with all the snow coming down …they will make the call in morning…Their journey north if road will pass wollston…black lake…stony…fort chip…hay river…keep going to old crow…Tuk to Alaska…Lets show the world we first nation people are caring loving people to help our white brothers make this journey a memorable one…By help them find the safe trails…and have the local people that know the land to help them
Day 10 / Mar 15
If you have been following along or read previous posts you know that a key part of this adventure was understanding the rich history and back stories to help piece together the route towards Alaska.
In 1942 the Whitesand Dam was built by the Churchill River Power Company Limited, a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay Mining and Smelting Ltd. in Flin Flon. The dam was designed as a water control structure meant to dam Reindeer Lake so that water could be held in storage as a reservoir in order to provide consistent water flows for the Island Falls Hydro dam which was downstream at Sandy Bay. All of the materials and supplies for the construction of this control structure were hauled by winter cat train freight sleighs to the site using the exact same trail that the 3 old guys have been traveling. In fact, yesterday as they approached Southend, the wonderful locals met them near the WhiteSand dam to escort them back into town where the 3 Old Guys were honored to stay and also learn much more about the area, the First Nation people, and the land.
The guys have modified the “Plan A” route a bit due to the deep powder, winter storm, and limited fuel checkpoints and are headed towards Stoney Rapids today.
If you want to learn more about The Tractor Trains of The North check out the attached PDF provided by Les Oystryk.
For a few old guys they sure do have endurance! 7am cst departure, confirmed safe arrival into Stony Rapids, Sask ~11:30pm cst. We will share more from the trail tomorrow.
Day 11/ Mar 16
Old Guys made it to Stoney Rapids a little before midnight. Taking tomorrow off to work on the sleds and rest. Sorry they couldn’t go to Wooleston Lake; took a different route. More to come, but we know you all want to know where they are and how they are doing. (Rob said he’s ready for a shower!!). Thanks for your concerns, prayers, and interest.
A day off is never really a day off for the 3 Old Guys. They promised to check-in with a “live” trail update later tonight, but for now they are busy keeping these machines in tip top condition. Everything is working well, but a little focused attention post that under-the-hood brush fire and all those miles will ensure they can stay focused on the trail for the next leg of their journey.
Trail report. Well the last few days have been an adventure that’s for sure! We left Slims cabins for Southend with deep snow and tough trails to break. Lots of over grown brush and fallen trees across the trail. We dropped our sleighs and went ahead breaking out the trail. We expected to find a local trail getting close to south end and pushed a little to hard trying to find it. soon it was dark as a pocket and no trail in sight. Bummer. We had to back track to our sleighs and pitch the tent for the night. In the morning we loaded up as it started to snow and head back in search of Southend. Finally we cot the snow cover trail that leads to town and as got closer riders started coming out to greet us! What great town! Tommy Bird put us up in a little cabin He has and us feel at home. Hector a local trapper bought us a wonderful fish supper and we had a nice visit with many locals.
Trail report. Once in Southend we were able to get trail info on our planned route up Reindeer lake 100 miles and over old cat trails to Wollaston lake. Not good said the locals. Lake has deep soft snow now with lots of slush under the snow and 10” more coming tonight. Somebody from town had just come in after abandoning His sleigh in the slush. This is a special kind of fun that we were getting a tired of. There was no other way and the locals thought it would be best to layup a few days until the strom past and the snow settled. We just don’t have time for that. There is a gravel road impassable for snowmobiles we had been told by many. But wait, it’s snowing 10”! We aren’t ashamed of taking the easy once and a while. We headed out at dawn well ahead of the plows and rode the snow covered road all the way to Stony Rapids. Snow was a lot less here, but still it worked out and got us back on track.
SIDENOTE – Shared from Iron Dog (Race) Facebook Page
In 1994, as rookies Paul Dick & Rex Hibbert placed 3rd in the Gold Rush Classic Iron Dog. Scott Davis remembered the race “it was a brutal cold year! They are great examples of Iron Dog Tough and proved that age is just a number and putting miles on a sled never gets old!”
Day 12 / Mar 17
The guys are working their way towards Fort Chipewyan via the ice roads of Lake Athabasca.
Early in the day they passed by Fond-du-Lac, Saskatchewan, one of the most remote Hudson Bay Company fur trading posts in the region on the shore of Lake Athabasca. According to local historian and author, Blair Jean, it was fur trader and explorer Peter Pond, an American from Milford, Connecticut, that established the first trading post in Albert near Lake Athabasca in 1778. Then in 1788, Sir Alexander Mackenzie had his cousin, Roderick Mackenzie, moved the trading post to the south shore of Lake Athabasca. Much later, in the late 1800s, Fond Du Lac was settled.
3 Old Guys stopped in at Chiefs Corner for some gas to continue on their journey North. Customers were conversing with them and intrigued of their adventures. Have a good rest tonight in beautiful Fort Chipewyan and enjoy the Bannock, with butter/jam on your travels Men.
We would like to thank Scott in Stony Rapids for the generous use of His shop. Much appreciated. We greased up the Norseman’s,changed ice scratchers,wear bars and gave them a good look over. Everything holding up great so far on these tough sleds! (2023 Norseman 8000 X)
Stony Rapids to Fort Chipewyan today. Ice road most of the first half followed by hard wind-blown drifts. Old Guys got their bones bounced around on that but sleds and sleighs had no trouble. Pretty area and lots of fans waiting for us!
Information about LAKE ATHABASCA—the lake the 3 Old Guys rode across on Day 12, March 17.
From Les Oystryk: Wow, not sure what their machines registered but that Lake is 176 miles long!! I think they must have made it end to end today. What an awesome ride that must have been. Well done guys!!
Day 13 / Mar 18
Headed to Fort Smith!
Yesterday, March 17, the guys rode 227 miles from Stony Rapids across Lake Athabasca to Fort Chipewyan, putting them roughly 1,700 miles into their journey. We don’t have an odometer reading, but estimate it’s probably closer to 2,000 given the back tracking, etc that they’ve had to do.
When they left Stony Rapids the temperature was -22f, by the time they arrived in Fort Chip it was 35f and sunny- that’s a huge swing in temperature! Fortunately, the guys have been really pleased with their gear setup – allowing them to bundle up in the morning yet open up their clothing as needed and thus accommodate that level of variation. They always wear layers and create opportunity for modification on-the-go, but as a sponsor, Klim hooked them up with a full setup and all the guys (honestly) have been really pleased with how it’s working – whether they’re clearing brush or riding on the wide open lake, they’ve been able to stay comfortable.
Guys arrived safely in Fort Smith at The Pelican- good day. First Nation people have reached out and are helping provide guidance for the Slave River route and trails up towards Hay River. Thank you to the First Nation people and our followers!
145 miles from Fort Chipewyan to Fort Smith; 1,850 miles towards final destination. High 38f in Fort Smith today- warm, beautiful weather
Day 14 / Mar 19
The 3 Old Guys set off towards Hay River this morning well equipped for the next leg of their journey. We continue to be awed by the welcoming communities of Northern Canada and the First Nation people. Yesterday afternoon, after so many of you assisted us, the guys were able to connect with Earl Evans who not only shared his maps and knowledge, but also fed the 3 Old Guys a Moose Tongue, Bear Fat, and Bannock dinner. Reportedly delicious! Thanks to fortunate encounters like these, and the kind individuals that share their stories with them, the 3 Old Guys are able to learn, laugh, and gain so many friends along their way. When we received the check-in call last night, the 3 Old Guys sounded like they were having the time of their lives! – who wouldn’t be?
Guys made it to Fort Resolution. Greeted once again by the warm and welcoming local community. Photographed here with Rob is Chief Louis Balsillie who has served as Chief for the last 16 years Others are coming together to bring the Guys supper shortly. What a highlight after a long (~12 hour) day navigating the Slave River. They will work to complete the run towards Hay River tomorrow.
Wonderful dinner in Fort Resolution provided by Brandie Miersch. Beef steak!
Day 15 / Mar 20
Guys headed towards Hay River and maybe even further…we will see what the day brings.
We have had a few of you ask us what’s up with the goofy looking boots? These are military surplus Bunny boots or Mickey Mouse boots also referred to as Alaska tennis shoes- whatever you want to call them. They are super warm and the insulation is encased in rubber so they don’t need to be dried every night. These are also great in the event that you run into water, you can simply pour out the water and the boot will still keep you warm.
Paul learned how important these were in the Iron Dog losing part of a toe! Noticing Paul was (literally) freezing his feet, a bystander gave Paul his own personal bunny boots and Paul was able to finish the race.
Trail report. We left Fort Smith yesterday and ran down the Slave river. Big river with soft snow, jagged broken ice and spots of slush and overflow. Broken up ice is safe ice, it’s thick and froze solid but rough to ride on. Soft snow areas are nice riding but can hide slush. Overflow is tricky business, froze hard it is smooth and fast to ride on but usually has slush around it. Big rivers like these are interesting but you have to stay alert, it’s not a place to mess around. Eventually we got off the river and caught a old logging trail now used for trapping and followed that to Great Slave lake. 5 minutes east and we rode in to Fort Resolution right at dark. Had a great dinner you already saw posted and went to bed.
Today we made our usual early start and rode west across the lake to Hay River getting in about noon. Lake was smooth in spots and very rough with broken and refrozen ice in others. Very big lake! Worked on our bogging and organizing gear this afternoon. We are now gassed up and planning to get to Fort Providence tomorrow maybe farther?
2,100 miles towards final destination- We are considering this to be about the halfway mark!!! This is also where we expect the most difficult parts of the journey to begin.
Day 16 / Mar 21
Today the 3 Old Guys departed Hay River and made their way across Great Slave Lake and up the Mackenzie River arriving safely in Fort Providence. While they still had plenty of daylight left, they knew that the next town was over 150 miles and it was too great a risk to proceed and be caught driving this river in the dark. Lakes and rivers have long served as a primary mode of transportation throughout Canada and the 3 Old Guys are leveraging many of these waterways as a core pathway on their journey.
Interestingly, they also happen to be crossing some of the most vast bodies of water – in fact, they will cross 4 of the largest 25 lakes in the world: Lake Athabasca, Great Slave Lake, Lake Winnipeg, and Reindeer Lake. They also are riding the Mackenzie River, the longest River in Canada and second longest River in North America!
Day 17/Mar 22
Trail report. We got a nice early start out of Hay river this morning and ran the lake to Fort Providence. This is the start of the Mackenzie river. Lots of open water as the river leaves the lake but we had been advised on how to handle it and things went fine. Fairly smooth riding on the lake. We got in here early but didn’t dare try for the next stop, not wanting to be traveling the river at night. We’re able to get our sleds in a heated shop next door and even replace a plastic sleigh runner. Headed for Fort Simpson in the morning,all river travel on the great Mackenzie!
The 3 Old Guys departed Fort Providence today and are on their way to Fort Simpson via the Mackenzie River. The Mackenzie River has a rich background and the guys are fortunate to be on a “historic” tour in many ways – seeing and experiencing history in a unique way. Fort Simpson, where they intend to arrive today, is home to about 1,200 residents and is the hub of the Dehcho. For eons, First Nations people used this island as a seasonal gathering place, appropriately calling this junction of the Liard and the Mackenzie, Łíídlı Kųę – “the place where rivers come together.” European traders arrived in 1803, founding “Fort of the Forks.” A few decades later, the Hudson’s Bay Company constructed a trading post that it named for the then-governor of Rupert’s Land, George Simpson. Historic buildings in Fort Simpson showcase their legacy of gold-seekers, fur-traders, missionaries, Dene and Métis culture, and much more. The community was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1969. Credit it to Spectacular Northwest Territories for the historical information on Fort Simpson.
Mar 22– Late night update Guys made it safely to Fort Simpson!
Guys left Fort Providence around 6:30am and arrived into Fort Simpson at 11pm. The broken up ice made it difficult and slow to navigate the river; as they got closer to town the numerous tracks were misleading and they followed a track that led them down a small trapping trail as opposed to into town this taking longer than anticipated to arrive to the destination. They’ve only had water and Clif bars today and are looking forward to sleep and a decent meal.
Trail report What a river. Had a great start yesterday morning following tracks for 20 miles or so. At mills lake we started breaking trail in soft heavy snow. Smooth riding but sucked down gas. Started to run into broken ice which is tough to get thru. snow fall in the afternoon made visibility tough. As we got close to town we finally cut a track and followed it. At some broken ice the trail went inland so we followed it. That lead us into a maze of trapping trails. Long day for the old guys.
Day 18 / Mar 23
After a long day yesterday, the guys have decided to take an unplanned day off in Fort Simpson where they are working hard to keep their equipment operational, checking, re-checking and re-doing their routes. They are 2,300+ miles towards their final destination. One of the most important tools that the 3 Old Guys use is their sleighs (aka toboggans) . Each of them tow a custom-made sleigh allowing them to bring the food, gas, and equipment required to endure the remote areas they are traveling for a length of time. Sleighs are common in the North where individuals use snowmobiles as a primary use of transportation and need a way to haul a wide variety of things on a day-to-day basis. In fact, earlier this week, the 3 Old Guys made friends with locals that were traveling with sleighs loaded down with caribou they were bringing back home. A popular sleigh in Alaska is the Yukon Expedition, but the 3 Old Guys custom make their own sleighs based on a design from Andrew Milley, a friend and fellow Cain’s Quest rider from Labrador. Their sleighs are made of 3/8 inch thick plastic with three runners and two 6 inch ski carbides. Each of the 3 Old Guys carry differing equipment on their sleighs to (hopefully) ensure they are equipped to handle anything the trip may throw at them including a combination of spare oil and gas (they carry 22 five to six gallon gas cans between the three of them), tailor-made boxes to hold supplies and equipment, and bags for their food, tent, sleeping bags, and cots. Personal opinion is that the Yukon Expedition sleds are great for all around use, but Milley makes the best sleigh for this type of travel where you have a specific load. To learn more about Andrew Milley’s sleigh design and availability, check out his YouTube page, Andrew Milley Performance, where he shares a variety of his sleighs and the technical aspects related to engineering them. Andrew Milley
Day 19 / Mar 24
Today the 3 Old Guys departed Fort Simpson where they were fortunate to once again experience the hospitality and warmth of the local community. After much debate and many recommendations on various route options, the Guys are continuing their journey up the Mackenzie towards Wrigley.
As the 3 Old Guys come into Wrigley they will find the town perched on a high bluff overlooking the Mackenzie River; the town sits alongside the Franklin Range with the Mackenzie Mountains rising to the west. This is the northernmost of the Dehcho Dene communities.
Traditionally known as Pedzéh Kı̨́, Wrigley gets its official name from former Hudson’s Bay Company chief commissioner Joseph Wrigley. However, Wrigley was not always settled in its current location. Various trading posts were established in this area in the early 1800s, including Fort Alexander, Fort Wrigley and Fort of the Small Rapid. Originally situated at Fort Wrigley, 9.9 miles downstream, the community relocated to its present location in 1965 due to swampy conditions, but also in part because it was more easily accessible due to the World War II era Wrigley Airport built for the Canol Project (stay tuned for more on that!).
Have you noticed that many of the towns the 3 Old Guys venture through are/were “Fort” something? That term is very common and stems from the old fur trade days centuries ago when Hudson’s Bay Company and other fur trade companies established those locations all across the West and North. One of the earliest and most celebrated ones remains in Winnipeg, Fort Garry. Many are now historic sites run by Parks Canada, but so many others are now, just communities – and as far as the 3 Old Guys can tell, very welcoming communities!
3 Old Guys safely arrived in Wrigley at dusk.
They were able to fill their tanks at the only pump in town in preparation for the 200 mile trek to Norman Wells tomorrow ($511, North pricing now!) and are getting some much deserved rest.
This destination marks 2,500 miles towards Fairbanks (odometer reading unavailable at this time- probably closer to 3,000). It is currently 18F in Wrigley and the Guys saw upper 20s throughout their ride today. Reportedly nice and warm. Check back tomorrow for more details from the trail, an updated picture of their route from today, and additional photos.
Day 20 / Mar 25
The 3 Old Guys called in their trail report last night recounting the ~140 mile adventure from Fort Simpson to Wrigley; as they provided the quick update two things radiated from their voices: exhaustion and pure joy.
“Today was so fun! Crazy, absolutely crazy, but fun. Never, ever want to do it again.”
It was an extreme riding day in every sense and super challenging. Rex, who has the most experience riding in these conditions of the three, said “that’s a double black diamond route.” And while Rob compared it to a tough day in Cain’s Quest, Rex claims “it was worse than that!”
The River route brought broken up ice, overflow, and creeks to cross throughout the day. All of them were stuck numerous times and in some cases had to use their axes and chisels to get the machines back on track.
The trail also brought striking views from morning till night. “It’s the most beautiful land you’ve ever seen”
The 3 Old Guys sure sounded like teenagers recounting their trail report, I guess the quote is true “you don’t stop having fun when you get old, you get old when you stop having fun”
Today, the Guys aim to get in about 200 miles and will run along the ice road from Wrigley to Normal Wells.
A little background for the day… “Cain’s Quest”, as referenced earlier, is the Cain’s Quest Endurance Snowmobile race a 2,500-mile challenge marathon through the “Big Land” of Labrador and Newfoundland and claims to be the “longest and toughest snowmobile endurance race in the world.” Interest and preparation for the race is ultimately how Rob met duo, Rex and Paul, and the 3 Old Guys quickly became friends. Rex and Paul ran Cain’s Quest together on three occasions, whereas Rob ran the race twice, once with teammate, Michael Dolby, and again, with Team Arctic racer and engineer, Jason Howell.
Day 21 / Mar 26
From one extreme to the next, the 3 Old Guys are tackling it all – and they are not letting any obstacle stop them. Yesterday, March 25, the Guys traveled the ice road from Wrigley to Norman Wells. After their crazy day on the Mackenzie, they expected an easier day, but found the ice road to be torn up – resulting in a rough ride that “tossed them around a bit.”
Per usual, the 3 Old Guys are experiencing a critical piece of history during their stop in Norman Wells. Norman Wells was deemed an important source of oil for military operations during the Second World War which launched the Canol Road and Pipeline Project. The Canol Project was constructed to ensure a supply of oil for the defense of Alaska and the North American west coast. The project was completed in two years at an astronomical cost and was abandoned less than a year later.
We found this “Yukon Nugget” write-up by Les McLaughlin to summarize the Canol Project and its history well:
Most Canadians didn’t know what was going on. It wasn’t exactly a top-secret military project, but the Americans were playing it pretty close to the vest. Hardly anyone in the Yukon knew about this massive construction project.
On June 4th, 1942, an American military contingent known as Task Force 42 arrived at Waterways in Northern Alberta. Twenty-five hundred soldiers loaded massive amounts of equipment onto boats and barges and began the river trip to Norman Wells. The Canol pipeline project was underway.
The Canol pipeline was approved by the Canadian government on May 8th, 1942. It was designed to ship 3000 barrels of oil a day from the Imperial Oil Field at Norman Wells to a refinery in Whitehorse and then send the refined oil to Fairbanks. The American military feared a Japanese attack on Alaska and wanted a safe reliable source of oil.
Canol, short for Canada and oil, was a four-inch line which would eventually stretch over 1600 miles. By the spring of 1943, the American troops were gone and construction was being carried on by civilian contractors.
In the two years it took to build Canol, over 52,000 people worked on the project. At its peak there were ten thousand people working on the project at one time. It was actually three projects in one: the pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse, a distribution system out of Whitehorse, and the Canol Road from Johnson’s Crossing.
The refinery at Whitehorse was shipped in from Texas and cost 24 million dollars. The route for the pipeline was chosen by aerial surveys and from talking to local native people who used a trail over the MacKenzie Mountains.
On February 16, 1944, they met and the line was joined. Two months later, oil was flowing from Norman Wells, through ten pumping stations, to the Whitehorse refinery.
But the 3000 barrels a day the line could deliver was a drop in the bucket compared to the needs of the American military in Alaska. The line operated for just nine months before the refinery was shut down. The official cost of the line was put at 134 million dollars, but many believe it cost as much as 300 million… and that was in 1944 dollars.
Was the project a success? Throughout the construction and afterward, a committee of the US Congress investigated Canol. In part, the report said that the project was a greater detriment to the US war effort in waste of manpower, and money was greater than any act of sabotage by the enemy. It also said that the project was a blot on the records of the high-powered military commanders who supported it.
Today, the Guys plan to make their way to Fort Good Hope where they have plans to meet with an elder of the Dene First Nation and his family. This is a connection they were able to make prior to departure and the Guys are eager to spend time learning and sharing stories.
SIDENOTE – March 26 – This particular day of the trip is extra special because Rex Hibbert, the team cowboy, is celebrating his 70th birthday!
If you don’t know Rex, he is a lifelong deep snow “mountain rider.” Rex grew up in Driggs, Idaho and is a veteran Rocky Mountain Cross Country racer who raced with his teammate and brother, Kirk Hibbert, from 1970-1990s. Rex has not only raced Arctic Cat snowmobiles, but with his rugged good looks, he has appeared numerous times in Arctic Cat promotional materials and catalogs. Rex and wife, Pam, live on a ranch in Soda Springs, ID and will be celebrating their 50 year wedding anniversary in July! They are blessed with 6 children, 19 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter. If Rex wasn’t spending his birthday fulfilling his dreams making trails in the Arctic, he would likely be riding with his grandkids, one of his favorite hobbies.
Now, we know you are all wondering, how do I get hair like Rex? Truth – his wonderful wife, Pam! Pam cuts his hair and helps him keep those locks in style. She admits they ran out of time and were unable to trim him up before the ride, so he will likely be coming home looking like a true hippy. She also shared with me that he has been a white fox for some time, getting his first streak of white when he was in his late teens – so don’t ever let him tell you he has brown hair!
Happy 70th Birthday Rex – thanks for helping us all remember that age is only a number.
Day 22 / Mar 27
Trail report. Had a slow ride to Norman Wells yesterday. Low snow on the winter road had us overheating alot. Much better travel to Fort Good Hope. Today with a snow covered winter road. Enjoying visiting today and head to a cabin down river tomorrow. On to Arctic Ted River from there. Expecting to break trail and might be off line for a few days. Warm and sunny here today.
After a relatively easy ride to Fort Good Hope yesterday, the Guys were able to enjoy an afternoon visiting and learning from the local people. This is a visit that had been organized prior to their departure and was much anticipated. This excursion is as much about the ride as it is about taking time to learn about the land, history and cultures along the way.
They are roughly 2,800 miles into their journey towards Fairbanks, though we know the odometer reads much higher. Today, they will journey down the river and stay at a cabin they have organized for accommodations and then head towards the Arctic Red River and ultimately Inuvik. Conditions will determine how long it takes them to arrive in Inuvik – likely a day or two.
We know the 3 Old Guys are truly adventurous and that they are embarking on the journey of a lifetime. But roughly 125 years ago, in 1898, many others also embarked on the journey of a lifetime in hopes of finding gold.
The Klondike Gold Rush was a migration of an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in northwestern Canada, between 1896 and 1899. Gold was discovered there in 1896 and when news spread it triggered a stampede of prospectors. The Canadian authorities required each of them to bring a year’s supply of food, in order to prevent starvation. In all, the Klondikers’ equipment weighed close to a ton, which most carried themselves, in stages. Performing this task, and contending with the mountainous terrain and cold climate, meant those who persisted did not arrive until summer 1898. Once there, they found few opportunities, and many left disappointed.
Although the vast majority of those would-be gold seekers entered that race through Alaska, there were some really adventurous types who accessed that country from the North West Territories. These were considered the all-Canadian routes because they mostly stayed on Canadian soil throughout their journey. These were popular with British and Canadians for patriotic reasons and because they avoided American customs. There were a handful of these “all-Canadian” routes, if you can call them routes -they were barely trails at all despite being advertised as “the inside track” and the “back door to the Klondike”. One of these routes is very similar to the route that the 3 Old Guys seem to be taking on their personal quest for Alaska, this route went north of Dawson by the Mackenzie River to Fort McPherson, before entering Alaska and meeting the Yukon River at Fort Yukon, downstream to the Klondike. From here, the boat and equipment had to be pulled up the Yukon about 400 miles. An estimated 1,660 travelers took these lesser-known routes, of whom only 685 arrived, some taking up to 18 months to make the journey. The three old guys might be doing it the “even harder” way in the winter, but they are none-the-less on the trail of Gold!!
An additional excerpt from Yukon Nuggets further showcases the route similarity to the one of the 3 Old Guys:
“Those who travelled the entire distance to Dawson City mirrored the epic journey of R.H. Milvain. He started up the Athabasca River to Fort McMurray and Lake Athabasca, northwards from Fort Chipwyan along the Slave River to Fort Resolution on Great Slave Lake, west across the Lake to Fort Providence at the head of the Mackenzie valley, and then down the Mackenzie River through Fort Simpson, Fort Norman, and Fort Good Hope to Arctic Red River and Fort McPherson at the southern end of the Mackenzie Delta. The most difficult part of the route was a fifty-mile toil up the Rat River to the height of land between the Mackenzie Valley and the Porcupine River Basin, but once through the Richardson Mountains, it was downstream again on the Bell and Porcupine rivers to Fort Yukon.”
Reference: Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klondike_Gold_Rush, Yukon Nuggets – Yukon Nuggets – Facts, Photos and News Radio
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Additional History can be found in the book: “From Duck Lake [Saskatchewan] to Dawson City: The diary of Eben McAdam’s journey to the Klondike, 1898-99”.