(Jason aka plentycoupe asked me to upload some pics and post this writeup he did for him, he is recently back from Afghanistan and still not up on the internet except his iphone.)
My final trip to the North Slope….we'll see
What a great trip I had last weekend [first week of May]. Since being back we are getting pretty busy with upcoming events and I think the rest of my weekends will be full. Knowing this I started pulling all of my gear together and piling it in the truck. After a couple failed attempts Thursday afternoon May 3rd around 1600 I was on the road and headed North.
I had got an invite from Bushrat to come up and stay with him and Lori at Happy Valley so I planned to do that Friday. Thursday I would drive up past Coldfoot and spend the night in the truck.
Man I love this drive it's beautiful breathtaking! I have been stuck looking at mountains that just are not that appealing for a while so getting out into this country again had my imagination running wild and my blood pumping fast. Had to stop and take a pic of the highway sign!
At the Yukon the river was still covered with ice. Not for much longer though. Mark and Lori said that is was opened up and jammed by Circle.
Well I saw a bear just before I got to Coldfoot and I can tell you what it sounds like to follow an irritated sow into the thick stuff. She made enough noise to send me packing back to the truck. Little difficult to see but she is there by the spruce just left of center.
Fueled up in Coldfoot and continued on. I saw caribou from just outside of Coldfoot all the way to Ice Cut. Nothing you could sneak up on though. At one point the pipeline provided enough cover to keep me hidden long enough for a perfect MISS! Easy shot that was taken with my heart pounding in my ears and the excitement of a boy on his first hunt. Man I forgot how that felt! Purely awesome. No harm to the caribou though.
That night the surrounding mountains were splashed with moonlight and it was as if the sun never set. What a sight. I could stay there forever taking in the views.
The next morning I set out on a walk to see what the beginning of 5 miles feels like.
A couple miles I could tell that I would not do the walk on my own. I envy those that do but this country is intimidating and I wasn’t about to go alone. I headed back then took this pic of two other hunters a couple hundred yards into their 5 miles. Even the photo looks intimidating. Not sure how they did but hope success was theirs.
After this I was at Happy Valley and greeted by some very happy and very vocal sled dogs.
Mark came out to greet me and sled some supplies and goodies back to the house.
Was the first time we have seen each other in 5 years. Was a good site and a great time to sit with Lori and him and talk of all that has came and went this last 5 years. I brought a couple goodies for them as this was Marks 47th *grin* birthday. Hope that makes up for my other mishap! Hahaha.
This is us with his birthday cake that Lori made. Very good!
Us with an open lead there on the Sag in the background.
Talked into the night and were fortunate enough to have some very tasty caribou steaks for dinner. Another musher had been by and donated a quarter to the Richards. Mark butchered part of it and I was in heaven! After a year of curry this and curry that a good old caribou steak was very hard to beat! Some good pasta to go with it and I was in heaven.
Next morning the dogs woke me and there was a knock at the door. Jerod had shown up as he was up to look for bears and bou the same as I. We had a great breakfast put on by our good friends. Lots of conversation leaning into the wildlife politics and I did my best to quietly follow along. Hahahaha, I am not into it much at all but the conversations were great.
Time for me to hit the road and move back south. I put on a few more stalks of caribou above the pass but they were not moving and it was very difficult to get close.
I did manage to get this very far and very fleeting picture of a wolverine that crossed the road in front of me. Man was he moving and he never slowed down. Was very rewarding though as this I only the second I have seen in the state.
Ptarmigan were everywhere!
Back south of the pass I kept trying to get on the caribou and they kept beating me every time! The wind was a big obstacle as they were all moving North and the wind was blowing south.
Here I am trying to look like a cool bowhunter! I had actually climbed a long way to get to this spot, only to blow another stalk.
I got dinner going that night in the trusty jetboil and had my nice bottle of red wine to go with the caribou that I was sure I would be roasting…. Well it was good just the same. Wine and ramen…hehehe, hey why not!?
Wish I could capture the colors of this giant piece of the mountain. It always amazes me when I drive up. Very beautiful.
At Coldfoot again, grabbed some fuel and some food. Got to talking to the waitress and found out she had just arrived from Georgia, always wanting to see Alaska...that is when it hit me...I think this may be my last trip up here. At least for the next few years.
Well that was a very depressing thought. As I drove south it weighed heavy on my mind, but I did not let it distract from the sheer power of the beauty of this place. I will never forget how awe inspiring it was to sit in that cabin in Happy Valley and look across at the massiveness of the North Slope. Pure white with snow and the shadows dancing out there where it looked like no shadows should be. Very rewarding it was.
One pic on the way south.
I called it quits I stopped at the old bear stand to hang my registration. Now its time to get up there and bait! I am very much looking forward to a bear steak and maybe some bear tacos. Of course I have to hit the range and practice a bit, slow the old heart down and focus on the spot! haha
Since this was just a photo taking trip there were no bears or caribou harmed during the duration of my stay! Not from lack of trying though. Grin.
I had a super time and look forward to the rest of my trips here in Sunny AK! I love this place and all it has to offer!!.