Last updated: October 15, 2018
What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.
Meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting in Fairbanks at 4pm at Arctic Wild headquarters.
It’s a long day. We fly north from Fairbanks over the Yukon River and Arctic Circle to the arctic village of Bettles. From Bettles we charter a floatplane into the Gates of the Arctic National Park. We’ll land on a sprawling lake near the river. If the mood strikes us, we can shoulder our packs and head directly into the hills. If we want to spend the night at the lake and fish a bit before our backpacking trip begins, we can do that too.
August 1 - 3
There are no trails except the ones created by bears and caribou so we follow the creeks and ridges north of the Noatak into an area of small canyons and broad plateaus. We will follow on creek up and over a small pass and then descend another valley to eventually loop back to the Noatak covering about 15 miles in 3 days.
Assemble our Norwegian folding canoes and after a safety talk and paddling instruction we head down the Noatak River, practicing good paddling technique and enjoying the ease of travel compared to the backpacking.
We’ll canoe our way down the Noatak. On days when we travel, we will spend about five hours on the river paddling about 15 miles. This should mean we have a full layover day when we won’t break camp and will explore on foot from camp. We can climb peaks from every camp, but there is also lots of good walking along the river, or up pretty tundra creeks. There will be free time each and every day after camp is pitched. The long evening is yours to enjoy the golden arctic sunlight.
Clean up and pack our gear. Weather permitting, we’ll catch our return flight back up the Noatak, over a great many mountains and then on to Fairbanks. Remove rubber boots!