We like to settle into the land and relish the magic of spring, making a patch of tundra deep in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge our home for a week to savor the the solitude and wildness of the landscape. With no constructed trails, no campgrounds, and no cell service, the Brooks Range is the perfect place for wilderness exploration and solitude. One of our favorite places in the Refuge is along the Continental Divide surrounded by mountains and tundra as far as the eye can see.
Camping in the Arctic is sublime. Views across the valley into the peaks of the Brooks Range change hour by hour with the light and the weather. Days will be spent hiking through the varied landscape. There are peaks to climb, glacial cirques to explore, and broad valleys to wander. Adventures abound.
One of our favorite routes crosses the river and then heads up a side creek to the north of camp. As we climb, the valley narrows into a canyon, often full of animal sign. Caribou trails lead to a low pass above several small caves with long views to the west, giving us a vista of endless ridges leading ever higher. From the high point of the hike, we can make our way back along a gradual ridge basking in the beauty of the Arctic.
This is a true wilderness trip, nothing is scripted and so much depends on the mercurial weather, the serendipity of wildlife, and your desires. With a small group and an exceptional guide, we make each day unique and tailored to the interests of the group. Hike to the highest peak at midnight to see the sun refusing to set. Hunker down in a snowstorm only to be surprised by a pack of wolves emerging from the fog. A day so warm we decide to hike to an alpine lake and swim between the ice chunks. Search for ancient tent rings and stone spear points (which we obviously leave in place). The options are nearly endless.
There won’t be any other people for miles in any direction. No trees. No campsites. No Trails. Just huge arctic wilderness. Mid-June is spring above the Arctic Circle. Birds are arriving in droves. The sun never sets and the first warm days of the year melt the snow and push the first flowers from the ground. Rivers are high with the spring flood and lakes still carry ice. Bears are out feeding on the new growth, caribou are migrating north. It is a transformative time of year on the tundra.
Arctic grayling are abundant in the river and we are happy to help you learn to fish and to cook them for dinner. Dolly Varden are abundant in some years and not in others, but are prized eating fish. Both spinning gear and fly rods are appropriate.
We never know exactly what wildlife we may encounter on a trip, but caribou frequent the area in spring, feeding on green shoots in small bands. It is also a great place to watch bears grazing the river flats. We may also see wolves, red fox, moose and a great variety of other furred and feathered creatures during our time in the mountains. The serendipity is part of what makes encountering wildlife so rewarding. A keen interest and keen eyes are certain to spot a great variety of wildlife.
You need not be a seasoned adventurer to enjoy this trip. Our sturdy base camp has a warming stove in the “cook tent” and excellent food that will leave you free to enjoy the wilderness. Our seasoned guides are on hand to teach you the skills of living in the remote and sometimes challenging Arctic. We expect a little of everything in terms of weather, but with good equipment and a great attitude this will be an adventure never to be forgotten.