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Thread: Gates of the Arctic

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Default Gates of the Arctic

    I think I'll take a week off in mid-sept and spend it backpacking in Gates of the Arctic National Park. I'd be interested to know if anyone's done this and what would be a good suggested route for 6-7 days. I kind of have in my mind that I'd set off westbound from somewhere near Anaktuvuk Pass and get picked up again at a predetermined location somewhere to the west.

    Can you drive to Bettles that time of year?
    How much would it cost to hire a plane ride into Anaktuvuk Pass?
    Where are the Arrigetch Peaks relative to Anaktuvuk Pass?

    I would expect fall conditions by mid-september, including occasional snow and temps dipping well below freezing at night. How is the tundra for travelling across on foot? I assume it's like other tundra walks I've done, where you're best to stay high in altitude or risk walking through bogs and willow bushes.

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    Temperatures and weather conditions in the backcountry of northern interior Alaska can be severe by mid-September. Just depends on the year. Hiking in the snow is the pits. Call the flying service in Bettles and ask them whether they would recommend the dates you've suggested.
    Tommy

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    Member 1stimestar's Avatar
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    You could go up the Dalton Hiway, over Anatuvik Pass. Shortly after that is Gailbrath Lake. Back up behind there is a small primitive BLM campsite. Go from there up over the hill to the west. About a 3 hour hike and you will be into the Gates. Do as much hiking as you want, come out when you want. Mid Sept. will be cold and very like to have/get snow. Have fun!
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    Default Gates suggestion

    A few ideas on your trip:

    The Arrigetch Peaks are about 80 miles southwest of Anaktuvuk (that's in a straight line). Usually people get there by air charter from Bettles.

    The "road" to Bettles is a winter ice road. Not there in September.

    Suggest a couple of contacts:
    1) Look over the Gates of the Arctic NP web site at www.nps.gov/gaar

    2) Call the rangers at Coldfoot, 907-678-2004. Ask for Pete Christian, he's hiked all over that country and lives there year-round.

    3) If you're looking at Bettles as a launching point, there's a ranger station there, too. 907-692-5494.

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    Member Buck Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Gates of the Arctic

    That's definitely some beautiful country. I hiked across the park last summer

    As toofewweekends mentioned, you cannot drive to Bettles that time of year.

    It took me about 10 days to hike from Anaktuvuk Pass to Arrigetch Peaks. Most people aren't going to walk that far that fast for fun. The route I took, down the John, to Walkaround Creek and up Kevuk Creek had some of the toughest walking I encountered all summer. Lots of tussocks between the John and Kevuk Creek. There is plenty of beautiful country in the park with decent walking, of course.

    You might consider flying in to Arrigetch Peaks and doing a loop, or driving up the Haul Road and doing a loop west from near Atigun Pass or hiking from the Haul Road to Anaktuvuk Pass. I did that in about a week. Nine or ten days would be better. The walking from Oolah Pass to Anaktuvuk Pass was quite good by Alaska standards.

    If it were me I'd go at least two weeks earlier when the weather is likely to be much better.

    Walking ridges vs drainages really depends on the area. Near the crest of the Brooks Range you're usually above/north of the alders, and unless you really know the country, it's usually a better bet to stay low and follow the rivers, walking the gravel bars whenever possible.

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buck Nelson View Post
    That's definitely some beautiful country. I hiked across the park last summer

    As toofewweekends mentioned, you cannot drive to Bettles that time of year.

    It took me about 10 days to hike from Anaktuvuk Pass to Arrigetch Peaks. Most people aren't going to walk that far that fast for fun. The route I took, down the John, to Walkaround Creek and up Kevuk Creek had some of the toughest walking I encountered all summer. Lots of tussocks between the John and Kevuk Creek. There is plenty of beautiful country in the park with decent walking, of course.

    You might consider flying in to Arrigetch Peaks and doing a loop, or driving up the Haul Road and doing a loop west from near Atigun Pass or hiking from the Haul Road to Anaktuvuk Pass. I did that in about a week. Nine or ten days would be better. The walking from Oolah Pass to Anaktuvuk Pass was quite good by Alaska standards.

    If it were me I'd go at least two weeks earlier when the weather is likely to be much better.

    Walking ridges vs drainages really depends on the area. Near the crest of the Brooks Range you're usually above/north of the alders, and unless you really know the country, it's usually a better bet to stay low and follow the rivers, walking the gravel bars whenever possible.

    Good lord!!! What an epic journey! I have to come back later with more time so I can read every word of that trip report. I can't believe the animal sightings you had.

    Thanks all for your responses... I really hope I can make this trip happen but it depends on work also. Atigun Pass to Anaktuvuk Pass might be the easiest logistically, although I'd need a shuttle back to my vehicle as well as a one-way flight out. I suppose you can hitchhike the Dalton...

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    Member 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    You could go up the Dalton Hiway, over Anatuvik Pass. Shortly after that is Gailbrath Lake. Back up behind there is a small primitive BLM campsite. Go from there up over the hill to the west. About a 3 hour hike and you will be into the Gates. Do as much hiking as you want, come out when you want. Mid Sept. will be cold and very like to have/get snow. Have fun!
    Ack, I meant Atigun Pass.
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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    Ack, I meant Atigun Pass.
    I figured you did.

    I don't mind at all camping in cold weather; I'm quite comfortable right down to +10F although I've slept outside in much colder...

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    Member 1stimestar's Avatar
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    I think Sept. average lows for that area would get at least -20. But if you are able to stay comfortable at +10, and slept colder, then you should be able to adjust your gear accordingly to accomodate -20. I'm excited to hear about your trip. What an adventure!
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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buck Nelson View Post

    So at what point along the Haul Road did you intercept it? And also, a bizarre question, but did you come across anybody else out there backpacking away from the population centres?

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    Quote Originally Posted by northernalberta View Post
    So at what point along the Haul Road did you intercept it? And also, a bizarre question, but did you come across anybody else out there backpacking away from the population centres?
    I hit the Haul Road just south of Atigun Pass.

    I didn't run into any backpackers for the first month or so, when I saw a group of backpackers just east of Anaktuvuk Pass. Arrigetch Peaks is by far the most popular area to backpack in the Brooks, and I saw about three parties there. I didn't see any more backpackers from there on out.

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buck Nelson View Post
    I hit the Haul Road just south of Atigun Pass.

    I didn't run into any backpackers for the first month or so, when I saw a group of backpackers just east of Anaktuvuk Pass. Arrigetch Peaks is by far the most popular area to backpack in the Brooks, and I saw about three parties there. I didn't see any more backpackers from there on out.
    Is there a specific set of valleys you would want to follow from Atigun to Anaktuvuk Pass or did you pretty much go as the crow flies? I made it as far as Atigun by road and it seemed like there were some pretty high peaks that would have impeded straight-line travel. Did you use a GPS to navigate to a series of predetermined waypoints? Or just map and compass the whole way?

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    Member Buck Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by northernalberta View Post
    Is there a specific set of valleys you would want to follow from Atigun to Anaktuvuk Pass or did you pretty much go as the crow flies? I made it as far as Atigun by road and it seemed like there were some pretty high peaks that would have impeded straight-line travel. Did you use a GPS to navigate to a series of predetermined waypoints? Or just map and compass the whole way?
    I'll PM you the specific route to save some space here. I used mostly my maps for navigation. I rarely needed to use my compass because of all the good landmarks such as major drainages and mountains. My GPS was primarily used to get coordinates for the evening camp, and, on occasion, to verify that I was actually where I thought I was on the map. For example, I missed one turn on my way to Anaktuvuk on a rainy day with low clouds. Then the GPS was great to verify I had in fact missed my turn.

    I roughly planned out a route before I left, mainly linking drainages running east/west on either side of the Continental Divide. I had to cross quite a few passes, of course, but only one did I consider marginal safety-wise.

  15. #15

    Default dalton bus

    there is a bus that does shuttle service check ot the dalton express on google

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