Last updated: June 21, 2018
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide(s) for a pre-trip meeting in Fairbanks at 4 pm at Arctic Wild headquarters.
Fly 200 miles north from Fairbanks, across the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle to the Gwich’in Athabascan village of Arctic Village. From there, we board a smaller plane and carry on through the Brooks Range to a river bar alongside the Kongakut River. Tonight, take a hike, and settle into your surroundings. The sun won’t set!
June 12 - 19
Here we are, in the mountainous headwaters of the Kongakut River! It’s not a big river at this point, but it will get bigger and bigger as water is carried into it by a dozen tributary valleys. Once we inflate and launch the rafts, we may need to drag the raft in spots, especially early on if the river is low. Caribou should be all over the country as we paddle north. They should be our companions for the rest of the trip.
We will plan to enjoy three layover days on this trip, moving down river the rest of the time. As we travel, we see the many faces and moods of the Kongakut. There are areas where the river course narrows and the river swings from valley wall to valley wall, cutting rugged bluffs.
Sometimes we pass through great fields of auf eis (ice that builds up as the river freezes layer upon layer during the winter). In the spring the river carves through the auf eis and we float past frozen blue walls of ice five to ten feet high.
We run fun Class III rapids on several different days. The blue water is very cold, and our boats are heavily loaded, so we avoid the holes and waves. From each night’s camp we can explore our surroundings – quiet cottonwood glades, small waterfalls, flowery willow forests, and jutting outcrops above the river make for great hiking destinations.
Each of the layover days will start from a camp at the base of a mountain, this gives us lots of time for mountain climbing. At each camp, we have choices of easy climbs or harder, longer, higher climbs. The guides will lead informal natural history hikes on moving days and on the layover days. The last day, we will be able to hike to a sweeping view of the Arctic Coast and the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean stretching off to the curved horizon.
Weather permitting, our bush plane will arrive by noon to fly us back to Fairbanks. We’ll re-cross the Brooks Range, the Arctic Circle and the Yukon River.