Spring is late this year across Alaska, and our Gates of the Arctic Base Camp Adventure got to experience full winter conditions in the Arctic. Strong winds and sub-zero temperatures didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of our party as we explored the area around Itkillik Lake last week. With woodstove-heated tents, a well provisioned kitchen and plenty of warm weather gear, we experienced the solitude and beauty of Gates of the Arctic in winter. In addition to the scenic beauty and satisfaction of learning to comfortably camp in the winter, we saw hundreds of ptarmigan, had a golden eagle land near us during lunch, were visited by a beautiful fox, and noticed the first ground squirrels emerging from their burrows after 9 months of hibernation. When not out snowshoeing we busied ourselves around camp, trying our hand at building an igloo, ice-fishing in the lake, gathering firewood and studying animal tracks. “Extreme” sledding, snow-block snowmen, and mukluk ice skating kept us laughing and the warmth of new friendships kept us toasty even when the wind was howling.