On June 29, 2018, I flew from Fairbanks to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I spent two days hiking to the coast of the Arctic Ocean, then hiked south over the Brooks Range (red in below map) to the headwaters of the Coleen River to a cache where my inflatable kayak was waiting. From there I paddled down the Coleen River (light blue), then the Porcupine River (lime green), and the Yukon River (dark blue). The most challenging part of the journey was the Yukon-Kuskokwim Portage (yellow), about 80 miles of paddling up and down small rivers and creeks, across lakes, as well as overland carries and slogs where I dragged my boat across swamps and floating bog. I found some of the old portage route no longer existed and my main GPS was failing.
I encountered grizzlies and black bears and wolves and moose, saw ospreys and eagles and peregrines, had a thrilling face to face encounter with a wolverine, and found myself in the middle of thousands of members of the migrating Porcupine Caribou Herd.
Many times I took advantage of the midnight sun to paddle through the “night” and avoid strong daytime winds on the Yukon. Sometimes it was difficult, sometimes it was magical, that’s the nature of adventures.
I finished my journey paddling into the Pacific tidewater of the Lower Kuskokwim River (dark green) at Bethel on August 20, having come about 1,550 miles as the trail and river winds. In the coming weeks I will periodically post photos and day-to-day descriptions of the journey, so…
(Check the post calendar for new posts of my daily journal.).