Thursday, our fourth full day in Fairbanks, was another clear-blue skies day. No rain, either.
About 2 PM I was at the Fairbanks Airport getting ready to take a bush mail flight north of the Arctic Circle to the village of Anaktuvuk Pass. It’s a small village of about three hundred population within the Gates of the Arctic National Park. The village is about three hundred miles north of Fairbanks.
In addition to the pilot, there were five of us in the twin-engine Piper. Three people were returning to their village. Another guy and I were on the “tour.” Since there are no roads in the interior of Alaska, people and things are transported by air. About a third of the interior of the plane was taken-up by supplies that were lashed down.
The flight followed the Dalton Highway and the Alaska Pipeline. It took us across the Yukon River.
After a couple hundred miles we went through the John’s River Canyon. The flight was generally about 2000’-3000’ above ground level. That meant that when we went through the Brooks Range—the last mountain range before the Northern Slope—the surrounding mountain tops were higher than we were!
I’m trying to remember what the pilot said about the number of Caribou that migrate along the river twice a year. It seems as though he mentioned about 200,000 caribou annually make that trip! They go right through the village of Anaktuvuk Pass! I’m guessing they have the right of way…
The landing on the gravel runway in Anaktuvuk Pass was smooth, even though there was a heavy column of rain about a mile north. The native woman on the plain advised the other “tourist” and me that mosquitos were really thick outside. But the cold wind from the approaching rainstorm kept them away.
The supplies were quickly unloaded from the plane. We used the “town-hall” building’s rest room, took a few pictures, and high-tailed it out of there before rain fell on us!
The flights took 4.5 hours round-trip. Flying over the vast interior north of Fairbanks was simply awesome! The Yukon River basin is huge. Crossing the couple of mountain ranges was interesting. The Brooks Range was dramatic, especially since the segment into Anaktuvuk had mountains seemingly at our wing-tips! And I crossed the Arctic Circle—twice in the same day!
Day 19. A short, easy two hour drive down the Parks Highway to an RV park on the north side of Denali National Park. Be watching for the next update.