Canoe Trip: Trough Lake Loop (June 24, 25 and 26)

Trough Lake loop – sounds so much better than Goop Lake loop !.  I’d paddled a nearby river many, many times during the past 20 or so years, to the point that I was learn of going back to that area yet again. Oh – I was so pleasantly surprised how beautiful this route actually was – and why had I not been on it before.  Maybe, it was the name – Goop Lake loop that had deterred me. It sounds and looks much better called Trough Lake loop.

We left town on Friday June 24th. It is about an hour drive down the Ingraham Trail to Tibbet Lake where the loop starts. We went counter clockwise and camped a couple of km from the start. Next day, under clear sky and no wind, we had two short and then one long portage from the Ross River into Trough Lake through a 2014 forest fire.  No obvious route, just find your way over fallen trees and bare rock.  A quick lunch and swim at Trough Lake – then the weather changed.  It down poured for 90 minutes, and us still wet from swimming huddled into one tent.  After the rain ended, we decided to return back the same way as the wind was still quite strong and we would be in for a headwind paddle on a long lake.  Miraculous ? – as soon as we turned around and re-did the 1km portage though the burned area, the sun returned and the wind stopped. 

We took the northern route through Upper Thierry Lake and aptly named Goop Lake back to Tibbet Lake to the vehicles. All pictures taken with either a GoPro2 or Nikon D700.

Canoe trip: Boundary Creek (June 4 & 5, 2022)

A couple of pictures from a canoe down and up Boundary Creek June 4 and 5th, 2022.  Boundary Creek is approximately 30km west of Yellowknife and flows into Great Slave Lake. It river meanders, a couple of easy portages, and a couple of places it is easy to take the wrong turn.

All pictures with a GoPro2 or Fuji X-E1 (14mm lens).

Flashback 16 Years – 1981 BJ60

I admit

I am a Landcruiser Nerd.  I don’t tape on my glasses, or wear a shirt pocket pen holder…

But – I do live and dream about landcruisers, and have a few in my yard.  For the number of times that people have asked – “How many landcruisers do you have ?”, had they given me 1$ – I could have bought another one. !

Yes, I do have a few, and am still looking at landcruisers for sale.  One day a few weeks ago one caught my eye.  It is a 1984 BJ60 that had been converted to a pickup (Australian ‘Ute’). Although in much better condition that mine, it looked very similar.  Could the same person have done the conversion from SUV to pickup ?

I contacted the owner so determine if he had any information. Interesting enough, he had also been contacted a few months ago asking if he had seen a similar truck with a custom deck, a vehicle that he had modified 16 years previously.

Well, that truck is the one I have now !.  Strange coincidence !

16 Years ago (2006)

And Now (2021)

It hasn’t changed much. The paint is more dull, a bit more dirty, door corners are rusty. It even had the same roof rack (which I have since removed). 

During that time it was in Lytton BC and Salmo BC with two different owners.

Last Friday in April !

Its a Friday !. 

The last Friday in April…

For those of us in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada) it is one of the last opportunities to enjoy winter activities. We have had winter since mid November, but most of that time is has been too friggin cold to actually enjoy being outside.  My cold weather cut off is -25C. Below that temperature, there is no glide on skis, and hands get too cold too easily.

Today, it is +1C. For most of the season, we don’t use the + or -, it is simply understood to be below zero.

The things I’d rather be doing !!

Kite skiing on Yellowknife Bay

Fat Biking on a northern runway. The ice is at least 4′ thick.

Planespotting 101

 
 

Planespotting 101:  A beginner’s guide to Yellowknife’s soaring skies

 …knowing your airplanes is not essential to life and death, though it is good for impressing friends…

Stories and photos by Steve Schwarz

 

Article written about northern aviation, and published in  _EDGE

(https://edgenorth.ca/article/planespotting-101)
 

A couple years ago my mom visited Yellowknife. One sunny morning as we walked along McDonald Drive she stopped almost midstride and turned her head slowly skyward. “Mom, are you OK?” I asked. A few seconds later she smiled and said, “That’s a DC-3.” What the…? My mom is a plane spotter! As a child, my mom lived in the Netherlands during World War II. German, Canadian, British and American airplanes were always flying overhead, and knowing how to correctly identify which was which could save your life.

My father too was a plane spotter. I remember as a kid Dad would sometimes tell stories and draw the airplanes he saw as a child during the six years he spent in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp while he lived in Indonesia. I’ve always been interested in planes. I guess it’s in my genes. Often while walking with the kids we will see an airplane, and I will blurt out, “That’s a DHC-5 Buffalo,” or name some other aircraft. Sometimes I can even identify the airplane before we can see it. I am not bionic, it’s more that my eyes and ears have learned to recognize the shapes and sounds made by the different airplanes. Fortunately for us living in Yellowknife, knowing your airplanes is not essential to life and death, though it is good for impressing friends and family. (Right Mom?)

If you want to hone your own planespotting chops, here’s a quick guide to the main features of six unique airplanes common to the Yellowknife area.

How to Plane Spot

The Noorduyn Norseman

This is a Canadian-designed and built single-engine bush plane that first flew in 1935. Nine-hundred were made. Typical of airplanes designed before the Second World War, the fuselage (body) of the Norseman is welded steel tubing covered with fabric, and the wings, except for the flaps and ailerons, are made with wood and covered with fabric. Characteristic features: One engine, high wing, really noisy (deep growl). Often seen on floats on Back Bay (Buffalo Airways). From a distance the Norseman can be confused with the Beaver and Otter.

 

Norseman

 

The Lockheed L-188 Electra

Originally designed for passengers, this four-engine turboprop airplane had a serious design flaw (the wings could tear off in-flight) and by the time the design was modified, faster and quieter jet airplanes were introduced that lured passengers away. The remaining Electras were converted to cargo planes by adding large cargo doors (Buffalo Airways), and some were redesigned as Aurora, the long-range maritime patrol aircraft used by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Characteristic features: The Lockheed L-188 has a long rounded fuselage, the wing is at the bottom of the fuselage, and the four engines ‘sit’ above the wings. Buffalo Airways’ Electras are white, whereas military Auroras are distinguished by the grey color and a long ‘needle’ sticking out from the tail. Although the Electras and Aurora sound very similar to the rumble of the C-130 Hercules, they can easily be distinguished by the shape.

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules

This four-engine turboprop transport aircraft was originally designed for military transport use on short gravel runways. The ‘Herc’ was designed in the 1950s and has been upgraded and is still being produced. If you need to fly a fire truck to a remote northern mine – this is the airplane to use (it has happened). First Air has two Hercs based in Yellowknife, and the Royal Canadian Air Force version (painted dark grey) is often seen passing through. Characteristic features: Hercules are big, with a wide fuselage, wing attached to top of fuselage, four engines, large rear cargo door and a high wide tail. With a little bit of practice, you will soon be able to identify that distinctive rumble of the four-turboprops way before you see one.

 

The Herc

 
The de Havilland Canada DHC-7

Popularly known as the Dash 7, this four-engined turboprop plane first flew in 1975. In many ways the Dash 7 – designed to carry 40 passengers a distance of 320 km, and able to use relatively short (2,000-foot) unpaved runways – was envisioned as a big brother to the Twin Otter. Characteristic features: Although there is some resemblance to the Lockheed Electra, Dash 7 can be identified by a long slender rounded fuselage with a pointy nose. The wing is attached to the top of the fuselage and most obvious is the shape of the tail which resembles a capital ‘T’. Air Tindi / Discovery Air operate Dash 7s, some of which are painted red with white dots. Compared to the Hercules, the DHC-7 is quiet, more like the sound of a large ceiling fan running at slow speed.

 

Dash-7

 
The de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo

Initially called Caribou lI, this aircraft was based on a redesign of the DHC-4. First flown in 1964, the DHC-5 is a twin engine turboprop aircraft with a large rear door and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. There are currently two Buffalo aircraft used commercially in Canada, both operated by Summit Air in Yellowknife. The Royal Canadian Air Force version of the DHC-5 is used for search and rescue, and can be distinguished by the orange with red stripe paint scheme. Characteristic features: Although there is some resemblance to the two-engine Dash-8, Buffalos can be distinguished by boxy fuselage, a bulbous nose, and a rear fuselage that ramps upward toward the tail. Similar to the Dash 7, the Buffalo has a distinctive slow propeller sound, like a large ceiling fan turning at slow speed.

 

DHC-5

 
The Short Skyvan

This twin-engine turboprop cargo aircraft, was manufactured in Northern Ireland. Although designed for the same purpose as the Twin Otter, the Skyvan actually resembles a flying railroad boxcar due to its boxy shape and large rear door for efficient loading and unloading of freight. Need to move a mid-size pickup truck? It will fit! Characteristic features: The Skyvan is short and boxy, has two engines and two rudders. Skyvans sound similar to a de Havilland Twin Otter, a noisy high pitch squeal that reminds me of a couple wasps in a beer can.

 
 

Short Skyvan

 

 

 

 

For sale: Toyota land cruiser landcruiser diesel manual BJ42

1980 BJ42 Toyota landcruiser.

Diesel (3b engine), 4 speed, two speed transfer case (2H, 4H, 4L). 10% gear reduced transfer case to compensate for the large tires. Drives and runs well. Rear body needs work. missing rear window on passenger side. Winch. Front turn light removed and is included. $5800 – OBO. Clear Title. Not at location shown in photos. **** Don’t ask if still Available. If post is up – it is available.

 
 
Yellowknife
 

For Sale: 1974 FJ55 Toyota Landcruiser

Spring over suspension, Detroit locker in rear differential, 4.11 gears.
Scout power steering, On 35” BFG tires

Rusty at drivers quarter panel, small holes in drivers floor and cargo area.
Interior panels removed for inspection (included). Light bezels included.

Pressure washed, paint stripped. Lots of layers of paint.
Oldest paint – White top, Orange lower.

More pictures upon request.

Includes: spare Toyota 2F engine, drivers door, drivers side passenger door, rear hatch, power window motor, radiator, engine head and floor mats.

Located in Yellowknife, Title in my name.

 

23ZERO Tent (Below Zero) Rooftop tent

23ZERO tents are designed in Australia, and the name derived from the geographic coordinates of Alice Springs, Australia (23.6980° S, 133.8807° E).

Our name 23ZERO is derived from part of the co-ordinates of one the toughest places on the planet and the most central place in Australia, Alice Springs. Alice Springs is a small place surrounded on all sides by an expanse that truly helps you to remember how small we are in a huge universe.

Some folks would say that Yellowknife, where I live is also one of the toughest places to live and also pretty close to the central place in Canada. Officially, Baker Lake, (64.3176° N, 96.0220° W) Nunavut is termed the “Geographical centre of Canada”. Yellowknife (62.4540° N, 114.3718° W) is approximately 934km the west of baker Lake. Coordinates aside, Yellowknife is still a tough place to live, and literally (seasonally) at the end of the road. During the winter the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road extends approximately 400 to 600km beyond the all season road (highway 4) that ends at 65 km east of Yellowknife.  Average temperatures in Yellowknife vary from +25C to -30C and with windchill can plunge to -45C. 

Below -30C it is just downright ….(swear word) Cold!.  I don’t even think about using a tent at those temperatures. My comfortable limit is close to -23 (Below) Zero.

I’ve got a winter liner for the 23ZERO rooftop tent and built a propane heater system using a Propex HS2800 heater, a car battery, 20lb propane can, ducting and a table (brown box in picture). If looks a bit jury rigged – it is !. This is the prototype that we tested last year. Version 2 is on a metal step ladder to support the venting pipes from the heater and it takes about 10 minutes to set up.

As a bonus, not only is the tent warm, the ducting can also be use to warm up the truck !.

If you have any questions about the set up – drop me a comment.

My “Covid Illness” – Part One

Farewell to the 1999 4runner. It was called 4-2. 4-1 (sold) was its earlier sibling, followed by 4-3 (sold). 4-4 (1997), and 4-5 (1999) are still in the family. Not crazy original names!. Good thing I didn’t name my kids. Lol.

With 5 Toyota 4runners (I miss read the memo about 4 runners…Ha Ha), it was difficult to keep track of which one was which, and to refer to them.  I am not into giving my vehicles people names. My dad had a couple of Volvos. He was always fixing something, cursing and sometimes calling them “Swedish Shit”.  That said, they were good cars, and they (and the occupants) survived car accidents in which my family would probably not survived.

I digressed…

Prior to Covid, I had only one car – a 2000 Toyota 4runner. It was Jade Green, Manual and ‘stock’. I spent a ton of money on maintenance and repairs – in retrospect many things i could have done my self. When Covid really hit the fan in my town – another Jade Green 4runner was advertised.  Asking price was $1000. Body was in near pristine condition – but it blew blue smoke.  Most likely a Head gasket failure – a major and costly repair.  A gamble – Could I fix it ?, or simply a truck to practice mechanics, or simply for parts. My daughter and did a few repairs – value cover gaskets, and compression test. A vehicle to spend time with my daughter whom had expressed an interest in mechanics.

“Covid Illness”…It starts !

While searching for parts, I came across another 4runner. The Covid illness had started, but I didn’t notice.  Bought another 1999 Toyota 4Runner – Silver, Manual, ARB front bumper.  Great Truck, needed a few repairs and had a bit of body rust. This one got the name of 4-3.

“Covid Illness”…It continues !

And then, bought another 4Runner !. 1997, Silver, Manual, ARB bumper with winch, leather interior, rebuilt engine, short shift transmission, elocker, and straight piped.  Driving it – feels like a sports car, with the throaty roar, and short shifting, and the lack of rear anti-sway bar !.  Obviously this truck got the name of 4-4.

“Covid Illness”…It goes on and on !

4-5. Yes – My fifth 4runner !. 1999, Silver, Manual, rebuild front and rear suspension, rusty rocker panels and quarter panels, and front which and stinger type front bumper.   It was filthy !!. Mud all over the dash, and dog hair everywhere.

Yes – 5 Toyota 4Runners in my yard. !!

 

4-1 (manual) and 4-2 (automatic) were stock.  Drove more like a station wagon.

4-1 beside its bigger brother

 

4-2

Usual state of 4-2

4-2 on its way top new owner. Ironically, towed away with another 4runner !.

 

4-3 with stiff shocks felt like a heavy truck, and 4-4 feels like a sports car. 4-5 has been neglected – though feels more like 4-3, distinctly truck like.

4-3 on Marian Lake ice road (NWT).

 

4-4 ‘Road Runner’

4-5

Delivery day (4-5)

 

Since then, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3 have been sold, and 4-4 will be soon.

Does a person really need 5 4Runners ??

Without a doubt – No.  But sure was fun having them.  Basically the same vehicle, though each one is distinct, and its own feel when driving.

Soon, down to only 4-5.

But the illness continues. Why do I call this My “Covid Illness” – Check a previous post. In brief, vehicle maintenance, repair, buying and selling is a new thing for me, and started with the Covid shutdown. It is a mental distraction during the times that we are not able to socialize.

..The Symptoms are now a collection of Toyota Landcruisers – But that is  another post.

“Study Hard – Or you will be a Mechanic”

In the early 1980’s I was a young kid in high school. I certainly wasn’t at the top of the class, and the kids with lower grades were typically directed by school administration to auto mechanics.  My Dad, as most parents do, was hoping to motivate me to work harder, get higher grades and pursue a career path other than auto mechanics.

He was geophysicist working at the Geological Survey of Canada, and a Adjunct Professor at the Ecole polytechnique in Montreal. My Dad could also fix cars – sort of.  We had several old beaters, a couple of which were destined for the scrap heap by the time we were done with them.  For him – fixing a car was more out of necessity than pleasure. One car had a massive hole in floor at the back seat. My brother and i would sharpen sticks on the pavement while my Dad dove us to school.

My brother is also pretty smart, so there was no need for Dad to give him a “pep talk”. But me – well, I sometimes needed a bit of extra motivation.  I remember my Dad saying “Study Hard – Or you will be a Mechanic” .  Not sure if that particularly motivated me, though i did graduate high school, and went on to get a Bachelors degree and Masters degree. 

And now now i am closer to the tail end of my career, and also a parent trying to motivate my own kids, i find myself more and more drawn to auto mechanics.  It is mostly for pleasure as long as I am able to keep at least one of the fleet in operating condition. Safety in numbers doesn’t always go in my favour…

Most interesting, the vehicles that I am most drawn to now were new back when i was a young kid in high school. !!  Yes – these vehicles are really…really old ;>.  Actually, one is nearly as old as I am, and that is more that half a century old.

 

Taking apart the Tacoma. What better way to learn how the pieces go together.

Taking apart one of my favourites – 1980’s vintage Toyota Land cruiser.

Obviously, I don’t say to my kids….”Study Hard – Or you will be a Mechanic”

My Daughter spinning the lug nuts putting on the winter tires.