Noatak River, Alaska August 2015

From Nelson Walker Lake to Kotzebue

August 3, 2015

We are in the Arctic! Flying in by plane creates a time warp and Wow, the Noatak River is remote. It was an hour to Bettles and then another hour to our destination.  We pause to think about the native populations and early explores who inhabited and explored this land with no means of mechanical travel. The wind is calm and the temperature cool. The mosquitoes that greeted us yesterday are absent. The daylight has extended around the clock with just a small hint of darkness during the early morning hours. We passed several groups of rafters that were paddling the upper part of the river. In conversation with them, we realized that we had a common friend and one of the members of the group had taken a NOLS course. A short walk during one of our breaks had us finding some blueberries. It seemed like the bears had gotten there first. We had been warned about bears congregating in the next several river valleys so we decided to put some distance between them and our camp for the night. The river has a lot of oxbows which gives us lots of different views as we paddle from one side of the valley to the other. In many spots the river is quite shallow, necessitating us to be alert to where the main current flows. The named river valleys are huge. No visual bear sightings yet, however, numerous tracks on the shoreline let us know they are here. Seeing tracks would become a common experience.

Miles traveled: 22