The Brooks Range Trip: Part 1-Geadake Lake to Arrigetch Creek on the Alatna River

19 08 2011

The only words to describe the Brooks Range and Alatna River are amazing and stunningly beautiful. The Alatna is one of six designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Gates of the Arctic National Park, and for good reason. The Endicott mountains range from rolling hills to sharp, jagged spears and everything in between. Many are reminiscent of the southern Rockies-very unlike any other mountains in Alaska.

Dan, Boone, Kasey and I got dropped off by floatplane in bright, late afternoon sunshine (after flying through rain the whole way) on Geadake Lake, the headwaters of the Alatna, where the Alatna River starts as a trickle flowing from the southern end of the lake.

Immediately, we found a caribou rack & skull-the first of a few we came across!

Fresh snow dusted the peaks 1,000 feet up. Being the second week of August, temperatures ranged from below freezing to upper 50’s or low 60’s, and the weather jetted in and out so quickly it was hard to keep track of. During our 8 day trip we lucked out and only had 2 solid days of rain, one or two days or rain/sun, and the rest was mostly sunny.

From the lake, we hiked through tussocks for 3.5-4 miles before the river was big enough to launch our Alpacka rafts.

Along the way we were treated to caribou dancing across the tundra.

We found snow on the river bank……

Early in the afternoon, on our first river day, my boat started losing air. We found the main valve to be seperating from the raft. We had to stop every 5-10 minutes to re-inflate the boat. We set up camp early that day so we could fix my raft with Aquaseal, before we were to hit the rapids above Ram Creek. Luckily, it held. Also, the river looked like it was at an average flow, and the rapids ended up being an easy Class 2 (not the 2+/3 that the river guide suggests, maybe at a different water level they are.) The rest of the river is Class 1.

Fresh wolf tracks! We found loads and loads of wolf & bear tracks on every sandbar. These tracks are from a wolf that came through our camp overnight.

Boone leading the pack.

Kasey heading down river.

The crew.

Dan.

Rain down river. The weather moved with lightning speed up and down valley.

A short time later, blue skies.

Boone cooking dinner on a backwater channel of the Alatna, near Arrigetch Creek.

This night it dipped below freezing, and we woke up to frosty sleeping bags and some ice on the channel. From here we stashed our boats, and headed into the Arrigetch Peaks for the second part of our trip.

 To be continued………..

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2 responses

21 08 2011
Brian Plumley

Awesome – we’ll be there this week. I hope I get to read part 2 before we leave. Loved the photos.

21 08 2011
amberejohnson

Thanks! I’ll try and get the rest up ASAP. Have a great trip-it’s amazing country!

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