• Let the real Jeep adventures begin. High-centered in a Canadian muck known as "muskeg," a sludgy tripe that attempts to swallow all who enter. If I hadn't had 800 pounds of gear in the back, I might have made it.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The excellent bunch who got me stuck in that muskeg, known as MudBudz Wheelin. The Jeep is "Hatchet," a 2016 Rubicon with a 3.5-inch Rock Krawler X Factor lift, reinforced, sleeved, and gusseted axles, TMR Customs 2.5-ton steering kit, custom full front-to-rear skid plate, 10,000-pound winch, AEV tire carrier and fuel caddy, 37-inch cooper discovery SST Pros and a custom "Rocky Mountain paint job." Which means lots of scratches. The dramatis personae, L-R: my personal lifesaver Spencer, "Turd"-Master Dwayne, "The Creator" Christine, trail boss and Hatchet owner Kevin, Voice of Reason Chelsea, and The Man with $15 Pants Who Speaks to Bears, otherwise known as Trevor.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • But back to the Arctic... Having left Tuktoyaktuk, the whole western hemisphere awaited me, starting with the lake-ridden tundra.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I wanted to hang back and take a million more pictures, the same way I'd done on the way up, but I had to roll on. I needed to catch two ferries, and river crossings had closing hours.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • South of the Peel River ferry, I still haven't seen Canada's Dempster Highway in daylight. But this meant I got another show of Northern Lights, bright enough to capture with my phone out the front of the Jeep. All that light down the road comes from the twin Mopar five-inchers.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Long after the Northern Lights had gone out, I saw two eyes way down the road, about man height. It either had antlers, claws, or hair from head to toe. Turns out it was this guy, who trotted from shoulder to shoulder for while before disappearing in the roadside bush. My second moose-in-the-road encounter.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The Klondike Highway in early autumn shocks the eye with beauty. This is a pullout near the Pelle River. After here, I drove down the hill, across the bridge on the lower right, and enjoyed a bowl of clam chowder outside.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Another scene from the Klondike Highway...
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  • And another. Lakes, rivers, evergreens, on and on.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I don't know where this was, but it deserved another stop and a bite to eat. I ate more scenery than food during this portion of the trip.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Hundreds of miles of this. And I didn't have time to take pictures of the best of it, which came afterward, as the sun went down.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • A strange totem on the side of an abandoned house near Whitehorse.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Back for a few nights of camping at the Yukon Motel and Restaurant on Teslin Lake. Which meant more pierogies and Klondike Elk sausage.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The bridge out of Teslin felt like crossing the Rubicon. I had no complaints.
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  • A last look at Teslin and Teslin Lake before leaving.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Drove by this place, the Sign Post Forest, in Watson Lake. Turned around to have a gander. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • There are more than 72,000 signs now, the first one left by a U.S. Army private working on the Alaska-Canada Highway in 1942.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • A good half-acre of posts and signs, from seemingly everywhere in the world.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I, too, had come from Hatteras Island...
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  • And passed through Alaska. And been freezing.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The pullout atop Steamboat Summit, on the AlCan Highway. I was almost out of gas, the last gas station I'd stopped out told me, "We have no gas. We're bone dry." I was told to nurse the Jeep here, then ask any passer-by for some spare juice. But it was 8 am Friday morning, and I didn't have hours to spend pandhandling.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • After walking a bit and seeing the road went downhill - and being told not to walk because of bears - I figured I'd try to crawl and coast my way to the next town. This was the state of things when I departed.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • It was 80 kilometers to Fort Nelson. I'd either get there, or the bears would get me. I made it to the station with less than half a gallon in the tank. Thank you, Jeep, for the larger 21.5-gallon tank in the four-door models.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • On my way out of Grande Prairie, Alberta it began to ice and snow. By the time I got to Hinton, the Jeep was putting on ice whiskers and a snow sideburns.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The first night in camp with MudBudz. The Canadians know how to camp out, and they do not play around when it comes to a fire.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Camp, the next morning. I kept calling this "winter," they kept telling me, "IT'S NOT WINTER!" Whatever season they called this, wheeling was going to be fun.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • My hotel for two nights. I give it five stars.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Kevin's rig Hatchet on the left, kitted like the proper survivalist redoubt.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Turd, a 1990 jeep YJ with a 1973 350-in Chevy, 700R4 Chevy four-speed automatic transmission, NP241C transfer case, Currie front differential with OX locker, Ford LS8.8 rear differential, and 37-inch Creepy Crawler tires.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The bashful Punkin, a 2013 Sahara with a two-inch TeraFlex Budget Boost, stock gears, and 35-inch BFG KO2s.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The stream behind camp, also known as the little boy's and girl's room.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Not everywhere in Canada is gorgeous. But almost everywhere in western Canada is gorgeous.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • A short break on the mining road on our way to the day's first assault, Crystal Falls. That's a better shot of Punkin in the middle.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • It began as a day of quiet two-track through the pines.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Spectacular. That is all.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Then it got muddy. Pools of water on the trail, sometimes long and not exactly shallow, freeze over and then get covered with snow. Spencer, my personal lifesaver, regularly pointed out rocks in the water that I would have killed the Jeep on. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • After another long, rocky stretch of muddy trough.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Canada is so sparsely populated that "Off the grid" has another meaning, and another level of beauty. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Turd climbing the last hill up to the walking path at Crystal Falls.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Crystal Falls, still running. Because it wasn't winter. There were mountains in the background, but the clouds obscured all.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Another angle on Crystal Falls.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • At the lunch stop, where we had a Canadian delicacy called "smokies." They appeared to be, and tasted like, fancy hot dogs, but the Canucks assured me they weren't. From L-R, Punkin, Turd, Hatchet, and Thing.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • This is what it takes to make smokies for lunch. Two guys on fire team, two spectators, and two photographers.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Full of smokies, chips, and Coca-Cola, somewhere in the hinterlands on the way to Ruby Falls.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Somewhere else terrific to look at, neither my phone nor I knew where, on the way to Ruby Falls.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The convoy behind me.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Aaaaaaaaand the muskeg. This was the second time I got stuck the first day, both times high-centered. Again, might have had something to do with the 5,860 pounds of curb weight. Or driving a bad line. Or the voracious swamp guts.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Once you're sunk in, good luck getting out. Your tires might as well be made of plastic.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • That hole didn't look so deep on my way into it. But at least I was able to give the Jeep a good paint job.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • When I'd finally given up, I waited for the tow truck, a la Hatchet, to arrive.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • A hero shot of Turd, at the river where some had gone to give their Jeeps a bath. Not sure the bathing thing made much difference.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • On the way back to camp after a full day in the hinterlands...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • We checked out the wild horses and First Nations ceremonial teepees.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • So when I said Canadians don't play when it comes to fire? This wasn't even half the firewood we used for a two-day weekend. Constant inferno. For not winter.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I didn't realize we had to harvest the wood, because in Southern California one buys wood (that's the problem with America today, right?). They gave me the option of skipping out, but that would have been rude. Many dead trees sacrificed themselves on the altar that night.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • So I got a workout, but I got fed very well, too. Steaks. Potatoes. Bacon. Beans. Potato Salad. Quinoa. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. Yum.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The difference between Jeep owners and Jeepers, right here. I got rocks under the tire bead on our first day. Sunday morning, I stepped behind the Jeep to sort out my paraphernalia so I could change the tire. By the time I had the ratchet straps organized, Dwayne, Kevin, and Spencer had already changed the tire, given me the flat, and were headed to breakfast. The most efficient Jeep service I'd had so far on the entire trip. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The weather warmed up overnight and I got a better view of the river and mountain behind camp.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Still, it all looked like beer commercials to me.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • After a hearty breakfast Sunday morning, we made the run to MacKenzie Falls. Christine became my spotter for the day, and after a stint playing camerawoman during a river crossing she rode across Cleopatra-style on Turd. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • At MacKenzie Falls, the obligatory photo opp and snowball throwing. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • A closer look at Punkin, Thing, Hatchet, and Turd.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • On this day, on the way out to the falls, I had an encounter with a mud berm. The fender didn't appreciate it, but there was no damage to the Jeep or the fender's LED light.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The bottom of the fender. It didn't flap or make any noise, even though it looked like it should have.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • After a fantastic 36 hours, camp mostly melted and all packed up. I'd had a terrific time, and the Jeep had done awesome work. MudBudz should have charged me for this adventure, it was that good.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Not far out of camp, headed back to America. Canada never didn't stop with the magnificence, and I marveled at it until the sun went down.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I had a fresh, front-to-back coat of dried mud, a full belly, and a bucket full of memories.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • On the Yellowhead Highway in Alberta, in Jasper National Park on my way to Banff National Park.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The next morning, in Calgary, I had a chance to take a good look at the Jeep. Filth. As it should be. And a few deep scratches, plus a couple of dents in the passenger door.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I was told I had to have a real poutine before I left. Fries, cheese curds, brown gravy. Not bad. But best served after a bottle of something strong.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • This... just seems like a strange place. It probably isn't. But it seems that way.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Ah, Montana. Felt like I'd left Seattle in One Million B.C. On to Great Falls and more trails.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
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