Last updated: October 17, 2023
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 pm in Fairbanks at Arctic Wild headquarters.
Fly north from Fairbanks across the Yukon River, then over the southern flanks of the Brooks Range and northwest into Gates of the Arctic National Park and the remote Nigu River.
We intend to land near the headwaters but the level of the river will dictate what is possible. After unloading the airplane and carrying our gear to the river we will make camp on a nice gravel bar with views of mountains all around.
We spend the day getting to know the Arctic. After breakfast, we head into the mountains on foot. Sandbars show the tracks of caribou, moose, and maybe wolves or bears. The tundra is soft underfoot and rich with a variety of plants and berries.
After a relaxed picnic lunch and plenty of time to enjoy the mountain views, we will make our way back towards the river and camp. In the evening we will prepare the boats for the river. You are welcome to help or explore on your own.
July 30 - 31
Breaking camp takes some time early in the trip, but with 24 hours of daylight, there is no hurry. When we get the boats loaded and complete our safety briefing we push out into the current.
The current is swift so we can cover several miles before lunch without trouble. If conditions are good we will make about 15 miles this first day. When we see wildlife, we can pull ashore and get out the spotting scope and binoculars.
Another day on the river. We have miles to cover but there is time for a nice hike at lunch and ample opportunities for bird watching, fishing or other diversions.
Time to hike. There are mountains to climb for views of the Brooks Range. There are lakes with drive-lines and tent rings and who knows what else. And everywhere is the possibility for wildlife sightings. We have a full day to explore and enjoy the Nigu.
Another day on the river. The river has grown and gains speed as we cruise past tall bluffs and permafrost banks. The mountains are behind us and the views to the north are inspiring and expansive.
Near the confluence with the Etivluk River there is a dragon’s-back shaped ridge running perpendicular to the river. The rock spires host nesting falcons and hawks and ancient hunters built small caves in the rock perhaps to store meat. Cloudberries abound and the ridge stretches endlessly to the west. If conditions permit we will spend a full day exploring along the ridge.
We spend the morning listening for our plane. When it arrives we load our gear and head towards Fairbanks. A hot shower is in order.