The Jago Uplands have witnessed the birth of untold millions of caribou over the eons. Each spring, the Porcupine Caribou Herd makes an heroic journey from the northern forests up over the peaks and divides of the Brooks Range. Running the gauntlet of predators, plowing through chest deep snow, and searching millions of acres for sustenance, the herds head north of the mountains to the Coastal Plain. Specifically, the cows head to the Jago uplands where rich forage is available and predator numbers are low. Once they reach their hard-won destination, they give birth to their calves. We plan on pitching our tents among this annual miracle of life.
Late May is the end of winter at 70 degrees north latitude and signs of spring will be everywhere. Rivers will just be stirring from nine months of frozen immobility. The land sheds its snow and absorbs the warmth and richness of summer. It is an exciting time to be in the wilderness. Migratory birds are just arriving from far flung wintering grounds. We will see them setting up territories and hear them singing in the all-night sunshine. It will be too early for blooming wildflowers, but the caribou are here to feed on the new plant growth and the land will visibly green-up during our week on the tundra. With any luck we will be in sight of caribou at all times as they feed themselves and their calves at the dawn of another arctic summer.
Because this is a critical time of year for the caribou we will have to be very careful not to disturb them. Your experienced guide will help you witness this unique landscape in an ethical and enjoyable manner. In addition to helping you understand and enjoy the wildlife of the area we will provide you with a simple and comfortable camp from which to explore the area. This will be an ideal trip for photographers, naturalists, and adventurers alike.
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Take a morning “mail-plane” from Fairbanks north across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle to the tiny truck stop called Coldfoot. In Coldfoot we meet our pilot and load our “bush-plane” for a 2 hour flight across the snow-capped Brooks Range and out into the Coastal Plain. The plane will land on the gravel near the river. Once we unload and say good bye, we will set up a sturdy, comfortable camp which will serve as our base for the week.
Each day will bring its own surprises. Bears chasing caribou? Calves nursing for the first time? Enormous ice chunks rolling down the river? Thousands of geese flapping through camp? Musk oxen braced against the wind? The first flower of spring?
Each day we will explore this unparalleled wilderness admiring, experiencing and photographing its wonders. The hiking along the river is decent and there are some hills and bluffs to climb, but caribou generally calve north of the mountains so we will admire the Brooks Range from a distance. Your guide will make suggestions of activities, lead walks, and keep you well fed. 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 before dinner.
Transportation beyond Fairbanks, food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter, base camp tent, safety & repair gear and professional guide service.
Lodging, non-camp meals, personal clothing and gear, backpack, tent, photographic equipment. Gratuity for guide(s). An equipment list is provided upon registration. Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild.
Temperatures vary dramatically in the Arctic and can range from the 20s to 60s at this time of year. Late May cannot be called summer here in the Arctic. We will prepare for cold, and perhaps be surprised by warm weather. We do get lots of sunny, beautiful weather this time of the year but this trip will have some snow and some cold windy days. We will bring a solid and warm camp. Please consult with us about what clothes to bring so that you are comfortable. No bugs expected.