Through the company I’ve been blessed to work with, there are certain perks that I get while I’m here. Perks like not having to pay for food, freedom to cook whatever I want, and living in the beautiful Brooks Range. Also, I get to go on any tour I want for free. Tours that people spend a lot of money on, I’d assume. Two of the tours that I’ve been on were to Wiseman, an old gold mining town, and a plane ride through the Gates of the Arctic to Anaktuvak Pass, an extremely remote village that’s on the edge of the Arctic National Park.
Wiseman, Alaska is 63 miles north of the Arctic Cirlcle, as the crazy horned sign says to the left. Back in the early 1900’s, it was a booming gold mining town with upwards of 300 people living there. Since then, it’s dwindled to about 10 residents as the gold mining moved deeper into the mountains. They live as close to a subsistence lifestyle as anyone can. There’s also a lot more buildings than I thought there would’ve been, let alone an airstrip.
This is one of the gardens in Wiseman that me and some of the other coworkers planted lettuce in. It’s what I can only assume is the furthest north garden in the United States. The mosquitos were so bad, I had to wear a mosquito net over my head to be comfortable while tilling the garden.
The next tour was the Anaktuvak Pass flight. By far the most beautiful flight I’ve ever been on. You fly in a small bush plane right through valleys and between mountains in the south-eastern part of the Gates of the Arctic National Park. This national park is a wilderness park, meaning there’s no interference from humans throughout the park. They don’t have park rangers, absolutely no trails in the mountains, and the only way to get into the park is by a small bush plane or walking. It’s the northern most national park and the second largest. In fact, it’s the largest contiguous wilderness in the United States. It’s also exactly like it has been for thousands of years and it’s fabulous. The picture to the left is the actual Gates of the Arctic, aptly named by the avid wilderness activist that trekked this area in the late 1920’s. To the left of this picture is another toppling mountain that, paired with the mountain in the upper right, makes up the imaginary gate separated by the north fork of the Koyukuk River.
Flying right through the Gates of the Arctic and bam! Rainbow. The New Zealanders I was with got a huge kick out of this. We were pretty lucky to be flying through there at that moment.
The Anaktuvak Valley on the other side of the Gates of the Arctic. Pretty jaw-dropping scenery. Looking north, this is the point where the Brooks Range starts to slope down into what is known as the Arctic Tundra, showing the full scale of the continental divide. The town was nice and we got to see the Anaktuvak Pass museum, although I’ve never seen more mosquitos in my life. The New Zealanders were getting eaten alive. The pilot and I thought that they must taste pretty sweet to the mosquitos compared to us.
***Update on me***
I’ve had a great time here in the Arctic so far but I can start seeing the starting line for Antarctica. The paperwork has been a nightmare, as usual, and every little deterrent to get qualified for the ice has happened so far but I’m almost 100% ready. Send good tidings my way for good karma that nothing else happens. Also, they’ve asked if I’d be interested in staying on the ice over the winter at the South Pole station. It would be between me and 2 other guys for the main position and the others becoming alternates for both stations over the winter so we’ll see how that turns out. Also, somebody should write me! I’ve had a few people write me so far but it’s nice to hear from others through the mail! My only real excitement throughout the day is when I get mail. So either I spend loads of money on stupid things to get sent up here or you can write me. My bank account will probably thank you later. 🙂
Here’s the address:
PO Box 9041
9000 Dalton HWY
Coldfoot AK 99709