Last updated: January 30, 2017
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet at the Arctic Wild headquarters for a pre-trip meeting and gear check at 4 pm.
We will take you to the airport in the morning to meet your chartered ski-plane. Then it is a 3 hour flight over the Yukon River, through the Brooks Range, right to the northern edge of the mountains where the arctic plains begin. The flight itself is an experience never forgotten. Once in the Arctic, you land on a frozen lake, where you meet your guides and the dogs. Hop in the sled and let the dogs whisk you to camp, a short distance from the landing site. The tents are warm and filled with the smell of good food. Home sweet home.
April 3 - 4
Each day brings its own adventure and surprises. Your desires and the weather will dictate the schedule. Wildlife sightings quicken the pulse and the process of learning to work with the dogs is immensely rewarding. Tents are kept warm and there is ample and delicious food. If you prefer to relax in camp and watch the snowy landscape from the comfort of a warm tent, enjoy! If you prefer to spend the whole day on the trail discovering one new vista after the next, we are delighted to take you over the horizon. When the day’s adventures are done we have excellent chances to see the Aurora dancing green and red above the mountains while the dogs howl in the arctic twilight.
We hope to spend one day at a nearby lake, fishing through the ice. This would involve a trip in the dogsled to the lake, some time chipping a hole through as much as 5 ft of ice, and then working with hand-jigs to (hopefully) pull out lake trout.
Another activity could include a long hike into the mountains. Ridge lines are often blow free of snow and allow us to hike without snowshoes or skis. We find last autumn’s berries frozen on the bush and glimpse the tundra mostly buried under winter’s snow. We may be able to gain a summit for views of the Brooks Range stretching over the horizon.
Want to build an igloo? Interested in skijoring? Ever set a snare for a snowshoe hare? Want to start a fire without matches? We have the skills and enthusiasm to teach you how. If it is safe (and legal) just ask and we can do it! Each day’s activities will be structured around your desires and the weather. Each day will be busy and full of adventure.
April 5 - 6
A camping trip within a camping trip. By this point in the trip, you will know how to keep warm, know how to ride a sled pulled by energetic huskies, and will be ready for a new challenge. Pack-up your sleeping bags, load the sleds and head deeper into the mountains. The goal will be the Ivishak Hot Springs a fishing hole in the Ivishak river where Arctic Char tend to winter. However, don’t get your hopes up for a warm bath; the springs are only about 4 degrees Celsius, but this is one of very few places with unfrozen water in northern Alaska at this time of year, and an ecological anomaly. Once you reach the springs we will set-up a “spike-camp,” less comfortable than our base camp but still warmer than sleeping in the snow. We spend the night in this unique location, try to catch some fish in the springs before returning to the “home” base camp the following day.
Back at our base camp, you have a full day to explore the area by ski or dog team. Follow wolf tracks in the willows; scan the skies for the first eagles of the spring; search for the elusive gray-headed chickadee, North America’s rarest bird, and rumored to live in the Ivishak; or climb another peak for views towards the Arctic Ocean. The day is yours to explore the Arctic however you see fit. At day’s end return to the “cook-tent” for one last Alaskan feast.
Our final morning in camp and time to say goodbye to the trails and vistas you have grown to love. Then it is back on the sled for the short run back to the improvised airstrip. Kiss your favorite dog goodbye and then fly back south towards warmer climes and a busier life. If the weather cooperates you should be back in Fairbanks by mid-afternoon. Shed some layers!