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Thread: First Time Hiking ANWR/Brooks Range

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    Default First Time Hiking ANWR/Brooks Range

    Hello, I would greatly appreciate any advice or words of wisdom as it relates to hiking in ANWR/Brooks Range, in late July-Mid August for about 3 weeks total. It is a father son trip totalling 4 people. Help in areas of:
    -Travel arrangements into ANWR/Brooks
    -Gear not to be left off the list
    -Weather to be expected
    -Bear protection-guns, spray, portable electric fence etc
    -Food storage- soft bags or hard container?
    -any ideas on great routes
    -Villages ie Arctic Village
    -places to store/cache food, for replentishing

    would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you very much!
    Bill O

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O View Post
    Hello, I would greatly appreciate any advice or words of wisdom as it relates to hiking in ANWR/Brooks Range, in late July-Mid August for about 3 weeks total. It is a father son trip totalling 4 people. Help in areas of:
    -Travel arrangements into ANWR/Brooks
    -Gear not to be left off the list
    -Weather to be expected
    -Bear protection-guns, spray, portable electric fence etc
    -Food storage- soft bags or hard container?
    -any ideas on great routes
    -Villages ie Arctic Village
    -places to store/cache food, for replentishing

    would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you very much!
    Bill O

    Typical access points into ANWR include: Coldfoot, Bettles, Fort Yukon and Fairbanks. Air taxis operate out of all of those locations.

    Gear would be the same for any other backcountry trip in Alaska, there is no Brooks Range specific gear that I can think of that I wouldn't take to the Alaska Range, Chugach, etc.

    Weather could be anything from snow to sunny and 70+. I would expect mid-40s to low 70s during the day and high 20s to low 40s at night.

    I prefer a Marlin Guide Gun or heavy caliber handgun for bear protection when backpacking.

    I do not use bearproof food cans.

    There are plenty of great routes, but I would look at your group's ability and how many miles per day you can cover, then look at how many days you have available. Plan a few days for weather, resting, day trips, etc. I like routes that cross from the north side to the south. You will also need to discuss this with your air taxi and figure out where he can land. You can cover a lot in three weeks if you are into walking.

    I would not plan on spending any time in the villages, especially Arctic.

    If you need to cache food you will need to arrange that with your air taxi and see if there are any strips where he can land along your route.

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    Thank you very much for your help.
    What do you use in place of bear proof canisters?
    Would you mind ellaborating on your comment about Arctic Village?

    Below are comments from my hiking partner who is more familiar with Alaska hiking than I. Do you know these areas? Thanks again. Bill
    2 possible trips from the haul road at Atgun Pass.
    They are both around 120 miles. One ends up at Arctic Village . The other loops back to the pass.
    I have thought about doing the 120 m to Arctic Village. Mail our resupply there.
    Then return following the East Fork Chandalar River--80-100 miles of moderate river travel south by packrafts( rented and mailed to AV?)
    Then following on foot the North Fork of the Chandalar upriver though several small villages and by a few cabins , on to a trail roads to Coldfoot on the haul road.
    Coldfoot is 75 miles south of Atgun Pass. To Arctic Village 120m -- 15 m per day = 8 days....River travel 80-90m - 15-20 per day = 4-5 days .....to Coldfoot
    100m--15 miles =5- 6 days. 300 mile loop. . We would need to pull a little over 15 miles a day .
    This route would require us to be in good shape. There are no tussets. Elevation variable is not bad. The river looks like a gradient similar to the upper James.(Virginia)

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O View Post
    Thank you very much for your help.
    What do you use in place of bear proof canisters?
    Would you mind ellaborating on your comment about Arctic Village?

    Below are comments from my hiking partner who is more familiar with Alaska hiking than I. Do you know these areas? Thanks again. Bill
    2 possible trips from the haul road at Atgun Pass.
    They are both around 120 miles. One ends up at Arctic Village . The other loops back to the pass.
    I have thought about doing the 120 m to Arctic Village. Mail our resupply there.
    Then return following the East Fork Chandalar River--80-100 miles of moderate river travel south by packrafts( rented and mailed to AV?)
    Then following on foot the North Fork of the Chandalar upriver though several small villages and by a few cabins , on to a trail roads to Coldfoot on the haul road.
    Coldfoot is 75 miles south of Atgun Pass. To Arctic Village 120m -- 15 m per day = 8 days....River travel 80-90m - 15-20 per day = 4-5 days .....to Coldfoot
    100m--15 miles =5- 6 days. 300 mile loop. . We would need to pull a little over 15 miles a day .
    This route would require us to be in good shape. There are no tussets. Elevation variable is not bad. The river looks like a gradient similar to the upper James.(Virginia)

    With regard to the bear proof cans, I just cache my food away from camp and away from my cooking area. I've had more problems with Arctic ground squirrells chewing my food bags than with bears and hope it remains that way. I'm not opposed to bear cans, but on my trips I just don't have room for them.

    I've been in both Arctic Village and Fort Yukon. Neither really have much to offer the traveler. Arctic can be unfriendly to outsiders depending on what you are there for. Fort Yukon has a small AC store, but not much else going on. Try to coordinate with your air taxi so that you are in and out quick otherwise you will spend too much time with your thumb up your ass at the air field. At Arctic there is really no good place to wait around. In FYU there is an old hangar you can sleep in and let the mosquitos chew on you. I'm not trying to bash either place, but on my trips I am not going up there to hang out in town.

    Sounds like you have some interesting trip ideas. Just as a general tip when you are looking at topos of the southern Brooks, the green parts, generally below 3000' elevation will be tougher walking with tussocks, spruce bogs, etc. For better traveling I would try to stay above 3000' as much as I could.

    Good luck.

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    Smile bugs?

    Well, I havent hiked up there but have always heard that you need a lot of bug gear so I would check on that cause you could be pretty miserable without the right gear.
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

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    Those villages have a reputation of not being esp'ly outside visitor friendly and would recommend not spending any more time then necessary. I have been to both Arctic Village and Fort Yukon several times and my personal experience has confirmed their reputation.

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    thank you very much for your insite. The more I hear about the villages the less that I want to visit them. I assume from yuor picture that your primary focus for visiting the area is hunting. We are a small group of hikers (2 Dads and 2 sons) and thought to take the boys to the village would have been a good experience. I think we will just stay clear of as much. Our present plan is to catch a ride to a point above the arctic circle and hike from there. Would you have and opinion on such a plan. Thanks again for your help.

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    Don't get too down on the villages. Most bad experiences seem to come from hunters as well. Something to consider. People are people for the most part. Be polite and respectful as you would expect someone visiting your town to be. Try to look at it from their point of view. Folks just passing through all the time, exploiting their resources, trampling/fishing/hunting/etc.. on "their" lands. I lived in Kotzebue and Nome for two years and have been through several small villages while flying in/out for remote float trips. Met some of the most wonderful people you could imagine. But I was in return polite and respectful. Simple stuff man.

    I don't know anything about hiking off the road, but I do know that there is a ton of places for great hikes in ANWR and Gates of the Arctic. The bush plane price in and out is pricey of course. Varies depending on where you are going. Ballpark, you are looking at $2000 to $5000. My first thought is to have Brooks Range Aviation in Bettles take you to the Arrigetch Peaks. This would make a great 7-10 day trip in the second or third week of August. Google that if you have not heard of it. Awesome hiking to and in the 5,000 foot granite spires. It is near the Alatna River. I am planning a 12 day hike/paddle there myself. Hiking the first five days then paddling down the last 7. If any interest is peaked, shoot me a pm and I will tell you what I have found. For ANWR, you could find lots of longer hikes to fill your 3 week window. No doubt about it. If you want to get into ANWR, email Kirk at Yukon Air. He is one of (if not the most) respected pilots in the area. I will be using him next June for a float trip on the Kongakut in ANWR. He would have lots of ideas for you depending on your interest, time frame, and level of experience.

    Links below....

    http://www.brooksrange.com/

    http://www.yukonair.com/





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    thank you very much for your help. I made contact with the first link that you gave to me. The Yukon link did not work. I will be around this weekend and would be glad to spend the dime for the call if you are available. My cell number is 7574782743. If you call me, I can call you right back. Thanks again. Bill

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    Bill,

    Sorry, just saw this. Shoot me a pm if you have any questions. Both links worked for me, perhaps try them again. Happy to talk with you. Shoot me a pm if you find time. That will send an email to me, which I check daily.

    Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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