Start with a base camp in a forgotten corner of the Arctic Refuge. Then a several days backpacking in the most spectacular mountain country in arctic Alaska. Add in more day-hiking and then paddle your own packraft to the edge of the Coastal Plain for views to the edge of the earth.
Last updated: August 17, 2019
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 p.m. at the Arctic Wild headquarters in Fairbanks.
Fly 350 miles 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 into the wilderness. After hiking to a suitable campsite, we will make camp and eat dinner and then take a hike under the midnight sun.
Day hike to your heart’s content! With 19 million acres in the Arctic Refuge we won’t run out of room to roam.
Deeper into the high country we go. Packs will be heavy but the footing is decent and the views unbeatable. There are several routes we could take. We’ll find a good balance between challenge and punishment. We’ll likely have time to do some day-hiking here too, but will keep everything flexible and spontaneous to suit your desires and the demands of the landscape and weather. Eventually we hike down the creek until it gains enough water to be navigable.
Before launching into the river, your guide will train you in the art of packrafting and river safety. Once you are feeling confident and packs are secured to the deck of the packrafts, you begin your descent towards the ocean. The river is small and rocky and you may need to get out occasionally to nudge your boat between rocks or over shallows. The scenery alone is worth the effort and there will be time to lean back in your raft and watch the tundra go by.
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.
A day to enjoy the edge of the mountains and the panorama of the Coastal Plain. The tundra where the two ecosystems meet is etched in caribou tracks and the cliffs are hope to nesting eagles. Its a lovely place to take a long day-hike and if the weather cooperates we’ll be able to see the Arctic Ocean to the north.
Pack-up early 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.
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.
Round-trip airfare from Fairbanks
Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils, water filter
Packraft, life jacket and paddle (though you are welcome to bring your own if you prefer)
Safety & repair gear
Professional guide service.
Select Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild and is included in the trip price
Personal clothing and gear per our Packrafting Equipment List
Gratuity for guide
Weather this time of year is typically dry and sunny, though we can get some powerful storms that can either rain or snow on us. Precipitation is generally light, and it’s fairly easy to keep comfortably dry. You can expect temperatures to range from the 30s to the 80s. Mosquitoes could be bothersome. DEET and a head net are essential.