Fast forward 300 construction jobs, 39 parties, 3 permanent scars, and 12 pounds of belly fat, and we are now introduced to a 50-something Todd Winter. With trips to National Parks, Backwoods American folk art and roadside attractions having sucked up some years, Todd needed to go back to Fort Simpson to see something else that climbed onto his radar screen. That great, big lake that looks like a picture puzzle piece sitting on top of the Northwest Territory. We’re talking about the largest lake entirely within Canada. The 4th largest lake in North America and the 8th largest freshwater lake in the world. We are rambling on about the inaccessible Great Bear Lake. With only 1 Native American tribe of over 500 people on the lake’s extensive coastline, this historic site is at the headwaters of the Great Bear River that serves as a lake outlet to the sea via the Mackenzie. It was occupied by the famous Franklin Expedition of 1825-27, and the locals push hard for isolation. With no road to the Mackenzie Highway, plane or boat access is all there is. Todd wanted to see this blue jewel, up close and in real time, so it required another road trip back up to Fort Simpson and some negotiations with the charter airline located there. Mr. Winter was going to launch from Calgary this time and was going to make a return loop into British Columbia, down the Alcan Highway, and through the majestic parks west of Calgary and Edmonton; spectacular, but also visited on earlier trips. Grabbing a larger car with a small motor and a big gas tank, Todd was all about vehicle range as a primary concern. The good news about Canada is that if you require gas, the law says the Canook citizen has to sell you some. Stranded motorists make for tasty bear dinners. Choosing his car wisely, Todd made
for a long haul from Calgary to High Level in one shot. Starting off in the morning, he then made the ferry landing the next day. With an evening at Fort Simpson, negotiations began.