Last updated: October 17, 2023
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide at Arctic Wild headquarters at 4 pm for a pre-trip meeting where we can check gear and help you get ready for our departure the following morning.
Fly north from Fairbanks, across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle to the Gwich’in Athabaskan village of Arctic Village. In Arctic Village we will meet our pilot for the beautiful flight over the Continental Divide past countless peaks and glaciers to the northern edge of the Brooks Range. After the plane departs, we will make camp, eat dinner and then take a hike under the midnight sun.
If you were on the backpacking trip just prior, this is a day to rest, await the arrival of your new friends, and get ready for the next leg of the journey.
We have the day to enjoy the solitude, mountains, and the wildlife. Take a long day-hike to a mountain that affords views of the route ahead, and the mountains to the south.
June 22 - 24
Before launching into the river, your guide will discuss the art of packrafting and river safety. Once you are feeling confident and gear is secured inside the boats and to the deck of the packrafts, you begin your descent towards the Arctic Ocean.
The river is small, and braided and you may need to get out occasionally to nudge your boat between rocks or over shallows. Depending on water levels there may be short sections we cannot safely navigate. But with a packraft it is not too difficult to pick up your gear and simply walk around the hazard.
The scenery alone is worth the effort.
June 25 -26
As the river exits the mountains the sky broadens and the river braids into multiple channels. Once you get the knack of following your guide through the deepest water, you will make good time and can scan the banks for bear, wolf, and caribou.
Traveling towards the coast the wildlife changes along with the scenery. Waterfowl collect on the gravel bars and arctic fox can be found denning on the sandy banks. To the south, the Brooks Range dominates the skyline.
Approaching the coast, the current slows and you enter one of the most wildlife rich portions of the Arctic Refuge. The river delta is a birder’s paradise. After negotiating the delta, we paddle across the coastal lagoon to a barrier island in the Arctic Ocean. Most years there is sea ice still attached to the shore and we have an endless evening to explore this austere land of sky and ice.
Pack up and begin listening for our airplane. When it arrives (weather permitting) we reluctantly load our gear and ourselves for the flight back through Arctic Village and on to Fairbanks, arriving in time for a late dinner. A shower is in order.