Gates of the Arctic, Day 1

And we are off!

After a couple of days of mad packing (for some that was a night of mad packing), Tom, Marsh, and I are finally off on our week long trip in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. We planned on flying to Anaktuvuk, floating down the John River, then crossing over to the Tinyaguk river, and then hiking out to Wild Lake to be picked up by float plane.

Our adventure began in my driveway, where we where driven to the airport by my co-worker Kevin. At the airport we checked in with Frontier were we learned the bad news about how heavy our packs were. Tom was very happy to learn he won the special prize of the heaviest pack.

Shortly we where in the air, flying north to Anaktuvuk.

In about a hour we landed in a windy and overcast Anaktuvuk. Anaktuvuk is a beautiful place and is surrounded by mountains on all sides.

After a bit of searching around town for white gas for our camping stove and checking with the local ranger about river conditions, we headed out of town. We walked out of town on a road humorously labeled the “Hickel Highway” after Wally Hickel’s pre-pipeline bulldozer road. Anaktuvuk is a very refreshing small town – everyone we meet was very friendly and welcoming. Rural Alaska towns are normally fairly reserved places, especially when the visitors are clearly just passing though – the backpacks are a dead give away. On they way out of town we were actually cheered on by a young couple in a ARGO with a cry of “Go Hikers” as we walked by.

After a shortish walk the highly braided channels of the John river came together and became floatable.

It looked a bit shallow, but definitely packraftable, so we inflated and put in.

Shortly after we put in the first of several brief rain storms hit us. This section of the John river is very beautiful, in a wonderful alpine setting well above tree line.

After several hour of floating we called it a day, and made camp just past Kollutuk Creek. Marsh cooked a fine repast which was enjoyed by all.

~10 miles travelled. Most of the float was very mellow class I, with a brief rock garden right before where we camped.

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One Response to “Gates of the Arctic, Day 1”

  1. […] years ago Ms Marsh, Tom, and I did a wonderful trip out that started at the village of Anaktuvuk Pass, and headed down the John River. I had been […]

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