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 6:45 pm in Kotzebue. Lodging on your own.
Fly from the Eskimo village of Kotzebue on the Chukchi Sea up the Kobuk River and then head north into Gates of the Arctic National Park. Landing on a gravel bar near a clear fast river we will unload and set up camp. We spend the afternoon and evening settling in, learning the birds and plants, and planning the next day’s adventure.
A full day to explore and enjoy Gates of the Arctic. Your desires help govern our activities. We can hike to a lake and try some fishing, ascend the nearest peak and watch Dall Sheep grazing, or plan a big loop hike, up one drainage and down the other. With 24 hours of daylight and more wilderness than we could explore in a lifetime, our energy and imagination are the only limits to what our day in the wilderness will hold.
We have the morning to enjoy the mountain scenery and the silence of Gates of the Arctic. After packing up our camp, we await the pilot’s return. The hum of the propeller breaks the spell, and we load into the plane for the short flight down to the Kobuk River in the broad valley below. Break out the fishing pole!
July 14 - 15
After inflating our canoes and discussing river safety, we let the current pull us down the Kobuk River towards the Arctic Ocean. We won’t paddle to the sea but we will cover more than 20 miles on this broad and usually tranquil river. We’ll stop to fish, camp, explore Onion Portage and maybe even at an Eskimo fish camp.
It isn’t far from the river to the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes but the most practical way to get there is by air. Mid-day we’ll hear the now familiar sound of the plane and our pilot will hop us off the sand-bar and into the sand-dunes. After carrying our gear to the creek we’ll reassemble camp and settle into our new and very unique surroundings.
A full day to enjoy the dunes. Moose, wolves and fox all frequent the dunes as do a great number of birds. The sand constantly shifts and swirls. There are springs coming right out of the sand and great expanses where nothing seems to live. The hiking is soft in places but great distances can be covered if so inclined. Swim in the ponds, look for wolf dens, slide down the tallest dunes, or just stretch out your beach towel and parasol.
Weather permitting, the pilot arrives early and we’ll be waiting on packed bags. It will be a fun-filled day. Our pilot will take us north across the Baird Mountains, with purple and green bands and then over the Noatak Flats before landing by the Wulik. After we set-up camp once again will have time to fish for arctic char and take a walk on the tundra.
A last cast of the line, a last fish (or two), then pack-up and wait for the sound of the plane for one last flight above some of the most inspiring wilderness on earth. Weather permitting, we’ll be back in Kotzebue mid-afternoon, where the trip concludes and showers ensue.