Winter in the arctic is long and cold. Not until April do temperatures moderate with the nearly constant sunshine. Over the years we have tried to convey the excitement of this time of year to our clients on summer trips. But unless you see caribou plowing through the snow, flocks of white ptarmigan against a blindingly blue sky, or smoke from a tent- stove curling above the spruces in the Brooks Range, can you really understand why Alaskans think of this as the perfect time to be in the wilderness?
Last updated: January 24, 2020
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guides for a pre-trip meeting at 4pm in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters.
Take a morning “mail-plane” from Fairbanks north across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle to the tiny village/ truck stop called Coldfoot. In Coldfoot we meet our pilot and load our “bush-plane” for scenic flight over countless peaks to an area where we hope caribou will be heading over the passes en route to the arctic-slope. The plane will land on skis near a grove of spruce which will be our shelter and firewood. Once we unload and say good bye, we will set up a sturdy, comfortable camp which will serve as our base for the week. After several hours of settling in we will be hungry for a big meal. One of the luxuries of winter camping is that frozen foods are no problem. Ice cream anyone?
Each day will bring its own surprises. Lines of caribou walking single file through the snow? A Northern Hawk-Owl perched in camp? Dall sheep on a snow free ridge-top? Arctic Grayling in a spring-fed pool of the river?
Each morning we can plan a new adventure or opt to enjoy the views and comfort of camp. With nearly endless daylight, our schedule is dictated only by weather and whim. Each day we will explore this unparalleled wilderness admiring, experiencing, and photographing its wonders. You will be free to experience the wilderness and the wildlife at your own pace.
After breakfast and packing up our camp we turn our attention to the sky and listen for our airplane. When we hear the plane coming we take one last look at the seemingly endless wilderness and prepare for the long flight back towards Fairbanks. We should arrive in Fairbanks in time to shower by dinner.
Such a joy to spend days where time was meaningless. A wonderful adventure and I would like to return next year for a longer, more challenging trip.
You mentioned to me in an email that you have terrific guides - you do indeed. Dave is a superb guide. He is personable, knowledgeable about the Arctic, and has excellent group management skills. I appreciated the time he spent teaching me to read the map, which is not easy without trails. He allowed Adrian and me to hike at our own pace and he encouraged all of us to explore the area surrounding our campsites. I know the others would concur in my praise.
Transportation beyond Fairbanks. Outstanding guide service. Wholesome, delicious, and mostly-organic food while in the wilderness. Stoves, cooking & eating utensils. Repair and safety equipment. Wall Tent and stove. Winter camping tools.
Snowshoes or skis, Non-camp lodging. Non-camp meals. Personal clothing, and footwear. Sleeping bag & sleeping pad. Gratuity for guide(s).
Temperatures vary dramatically in the arctic. We could see temperatures from -20 to +40 F. Average temperatures should be around 20 F with warm afternoons and cold nights. Multiple layers will ensure comfort despite the dramatic temperature swings common in April. Please consult with us about what clothes to bring so that you are comfortable. Bugs? We might see some snow fleas but you can leave the DEET at home.
Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer
People of the Noatak by Clair Fejes
Caribou and the Barren Lands by George Calef
Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner
Alaska Wilderness by Robert Marshall
Last Light Breaking by Nick Jans
Arctic Wild by Lois Crisler
More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore.