Dechen la' Lodge is the only lodge in the vast northern wilderness between the Selwyn and Mackenzie ranges, which lie between the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Its name comes from an aboriginal word meaning “the land at the end of the sticks.” This was a special place to both the Kaska and Sahtu aboriginal people, the traditional land stewards of the area. In more recent times, this area was identified by a group of eminent scientists, under the auspices of a United Nations program, as a place of unique and outstanding natural heritage. They called this place the Mackenzie Mountain Barrens, in reference to its lack of trees.
The lodge is situated on lake-dotted tundra near the westernmost end of the Canol Road Heritage Trail, and serves as a staging area for hikers and backcountry sojourners. The Canol (Canadian Oil) Heritage Trail is a 231-mile (372-kilometer) route that begins across the Mackenzie River from the Northwest Territories town of Norman Wells. From there, it winds through the Mackenzie Mountains to Macmillan Pass on the Yukon border.
* Please note that not every expedition has couples’ or single's accommodations available. Please call or email Earthwatch to check for availability prior to reserving your space(s) on the team.
Dechen la’ Lodge has a series of cabins on either side of the main lodge building, which includes the dining, kitchen, and communal lounge areas. Each cabin has two single beds, a wood stove, and storage areas. Large windows on the front of each cabin look out over the picturesque Mackenzie Mountain Barrens. Couples can be accommodated with advance notice.
* Earthwatch will honor each person’s assertion of gender identity, respectfully and without judgement. For both teen and adult teams, where logistics dictate single-sex accommodations or other facilities, participant placements will be made in accordance with the gender identity the participant specified on their Earthwatch Participant form and/or preferences indicated in discussions with Earthwatch.
There are three freestanding pit toilets (separate from the cabins) with pump-out tanks. Water is limited, but hot showers are available on demand. A wood sauna can even be arranged, given sufficient advance notice.
Electricity (North American standard, 110 volts) is provided by solar cells and a gas-powered generator, which is run on demand. Power is available in the main lodge building approximately two to three hours daily, usually before and after dinner.
There may be limited Internet service at Dechen la’ when the generator is running, and no Internet at Camp 222. There is no cell phone reception in the area.
DISTANCE TO THE FIELD SITE
Travel time from the main lodge to the westernmost research sites is about three hours, depending on road conditions. Access to the sites is first by a four-wheel-drive vehicle and then by foot. Walking can be trying on one trail, which is dominated by dense, tall shrubs, while others offer challenges due to deep standing water; however, no sites are more than 30 minutes from the trailhead.
Please note: The team will stay several nights at the facilities at Camp 222, about 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) from the western study sites and 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the main lodge buildings. It can take an hour to travel from Camp 222 to the furthest study sites and an hour and a half to take a four-wheel- drive vehicle to the main lodge. The more rustic Camp 222 is equipped with bunk beds with bedding provided, and sleeps up to four in a room. There is no running water (as at the main lodge) or heat (though the kitchen area can be heated by a wood stove), and there is a dry toilet (with a spectacular view, thus aptly named “The View”).
FOOD AND WATER
Cooks prepare all meals and participants prepare their own lunches from food provided. Participants, scientists, and staff eat together. Offers to assist in cleanup are never refused.
The following are examples of foods you may find in the field. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility.
- Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, toast, porridge, pancakes, french toast, sausages, fresh or preserved fruit
- Lunch: Sandwiches, cookies, fruit
- Dinner: Meatloaf, spaghetti, roast beef, turkey, lasagna, stew, fish, potatoes, pork chops, pizza, chicken, salads, Jell-O, cake, pie, fresh fruit
- Snacks: Leftovers, fruit, cookies, hot chocolate
- Beverages: Juice, milk, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, water, (if you want alcoholic beverages at the lodge, you should purchase them in Whitehorse, however there may be a limited supply of boxed wine available during dinner)
- Water: Due to the remoteness of the site, water at the lodge is trucked from a nearby mountain stream.
SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS
Please alert Earthwatch to any special dietary requirements (e.g., diabetes, lactose intolerance, nut or other food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets) as soon as possible, and note them in the space provided on your volunteer forms.
Accommodating special diets is not guaranteed and can be very difficult due to availability of food, location of field sites, and other local conditions.