Last updated: December 1, 2023
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting at 4 pm in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters.
Fly north from Fairbanks across the Yukon River to the town of Bettles (population 15). Here we board a smaller plane and continue on into the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Our skilled pilot lands us at the very headwaters of the Alatna River, right on the Arctic Divide….and then the plane leaves and we are alone in the grandeur of the wilderness.
The Alatna River is too shallow to paddle as it leaves the headwater lakes. We spend our first full day of the trip shouldering our packs and walking down river. Packs will be heavy and we will be glad when side creeks join the Alatna and make it navigable.
The first day on the river is challenging. The Alatna is small and steep here in the mountains and you’ll be busy avoiding rocks and shallows. We don’t need to cover a lot of miles but you’ll be tired and a little wet by day’s end.
August 11 - 13
Paddle and day hike in turn. The upper valley offers outstanding hiking and we will have time each day to explore. We have four full days to cover a little more than 50 river miles, which leaves some time for climbing mountains, watching wildlife or simply relaxing by the river.
Rendezvous with our pilot and exchange fresh provisions for our much beloved packrafts, then shoulder packs and head for the high country. The Arrigetch Peaks are calling! The hiking starts out rough but as we gain elevation we’ll start to make better time.
August 15 - 18
It takes about 1-1/2 days to hike from the Alatna into the most spectacular part of the Arrigetch. Depending on the timing of the resupply and our collective pace we should have the bulk of two days to explore unburdened by packs. If the weather is good we can climb on the flanks of the peaks for views beyond compare.
Buoyed and exhilarated by our time in the mountains we should make good time descending Arrigetch Creek. (Light packs help too.) Even with a bounce in our step it will be a long day and we’ll be glad to get down to the river and unload our packs.
Await the arrival of our bush plane near the Alatna River. The busy world awaits. Weather permitting we fly to Bettles and then back to Fairbanks in time for a late dinner and a long hot shower.