Cycling on Backroads of the Nahanni Watershed

At the end of the operating season, Dana and I were both in the South Nahanni watershed though heading different directions. She would experience the late-season autumnal glory in the Canyons leading our last raft expedition through an incredible contrast of boreal colour against the Nahanni’s grey limestone and dolomite walls. With nights of aurora in store and a stunning display in Deadmen Valley, I was right to be envious of her expedition but I had one of my own in the works.
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As many of you may know, there has been a mine moving through the development phases in Howard’s Pass. This is an incredible ecosystem, a place of delicate alpine beauty, that stands juxtaposed to the heavy power of the Ragged Range. Left out of the expansion of Nahanni National Park due to preexisting mineral claims, I was aiming to see the area from the air and by bicycle. 

Flying over the mine site and its myriad bulldozed roads, we saw heavy-tracked machinery active in the area. Once on the road we observed evidence of grizzly bear, mountain caribou, moose, wolf, wolverine and countless bird species. A few weeks later on a return trip we witnessed 5000 sandhill cranes gliding through the sky at incredible speed as imminent fall storms hurried their migration south. This is one of the last great wilderness areas and each industrial incursion compromises its ability to sustain wildlife. 

*Note: While I acknowledge that we need mines, I question how and where some of them are permitted.

There were moments of intense emotion as we contemplated the future of this area. We are so fortunate to share in it and the truly national love that exists for the Nahanni. We will be one of several groups watching very closely in the coming years. 

*Note: Park’s Canada requires anyone using the road to obtain permission of the superintendents of the park. 

It was a fantastic journey, with beautiful alpine, wildlife, rocky peaks and stunning fall colours. If you would like to learn more about the ride, we will speaking across the country this winter; stay informed through our Facebook and Instagram pages

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More to explore

Quintessential Canoe Country

Here is our shortened blog version of an article written by Liz Beatty for National Geographic online. We have to admit, we’re pretty happy to hear more kudos for a river we know to be a gem among gems.

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Is this the road to Cantung mine?