Going Home

Sorry I am unable to add pictures. I will when I can!

Day 4

We woke up to another damp morning. I got up and got ready to go. Another day of oatmeal!

The sky was grey as we packed up our things, still wet from the past couple of nights. I told N that if it dried out today we would stop and take time to dry out all our things.

The day felt short and not much of note happened.

Luckily for us, the sun came out. Unfortunately the upstream winds did as well. We looked for a few impact sites before finding an amazing gravel bar. We laid out all our stuff in the sun and wind. It looked like a backcountry yard sale. I washed some of my clothes in the river and set them on a large bush to dry. Everything got dried out while we enjoyed the sun and ate dinner. We watched a few fish jump in the river.

When everything had dried out, we set up our tents in the wind. The sun was hot as I laid down to sleep.

Day 5

We woke up determined to find an impact site that had been marked previously. As we canoed past where my GPS showed it, we didn’t see any sign of human impact.

I entered a different point into my GPS and we headed in that direction. Unfortunately, the site was a little ways up a meander that we hadn’t gone down.

Determined, we paddled across the main channel which required some hard paddling and steering. We made it up to the gravel bar by the site. We donned our mosquito gear and headed back in. We found the site and documented it before heading down river.

The headwind had really picked up making downstream progress extremely frustrating. We paddled hard to beat the wind. We meandered slowly down the river trying to stay out of the wind to lessen the amount of effort we had to put in.

Around a corner, we spotted a knoll that looked like something we might be able to hike to the top of to get a good view. We pulled off to the side and looked for a good route up the hill. We trudged up and took in the view back in the direction we had come.

It was glorious. The blue water of the river sparkled in the flat river valley and mountains rose beyond that. We spent some time taking in the view before heading back down.

We continued to fight the wind to get some lunch.

After lunch, we fought the wind some more.

The wind was terrible. If we weren’t paddling we were sailing backwards. After few more frustrating hours of paddling we were finally ready to take a break. We checked out another impact site in the mosquito-y brush.

Around the corner from that, we found a nice gravel bar and settled in for the evening. We had tea time before getting to bed, the sun shining down on our tents.

Day 6

We had a short day planned, so we took our time and made breakfast and tea in the morning. The wind was still going strong, impeding our progress.

We went around a corner and pulled to the side to check out a cabin on in inholding in the preserve boundary. We watched a large bird of prey for a while before heading into the brush.

We found the cabin without much effort and took photos. An owl pellet was on the front porch and we inspected it. The cabin was in great shape and seemed like a nice place to stay.

The rest of the day we were making our way to the preserve boundary. We stopped to check out one more site that we concluded was overgrown or washed away. The gravel bar across the river looked like a better place for lunch so we paddled that way. In the wind and sun we enjoyed a bug free lunch. I tried to wash my hair in the water, but I think it only became more oily and matted down.

For several more hours we fought the wind as we exited the Kobuk Preserve and Gates of the Arctic. We found a nice gravel bar in the early afternoon and settled in for the evening. I spent some time in the sun down by the river, it was a beautiful spot.

Day 7

Another short day on the river that would lead us close to our pick-up destination. It was the Fourth of July.

We ate breakfast down by the river and had some tea and coffee before packing up our things. I couldn’t believe it was another beautiful day. How could we be this lucky?

The wind, however, refused to quit. We paddled with maximum effort downstream. I spotted an osprey nest and we stopped to watch the majestic bird sitting in her nest. A low flying aircraft flew over us and seemed like they were watching us. It was a bit strange.

We paddled downstream a bit more before stopping for lunch. The plane flew over us again as we ate our snacks. We pondered what the plane could be doing and who it was.

Very quickly we arrived at the Pah River confluence. We set up camp on a gravel bar right across from where the river came in and close to our pick up spot.

It was the windiest it had been on this gravel bar as N and I struggled to set up our tents getting blasted by wind and sand.

I enjoyed the river for a while and watched the sun move around the sky as a few clouds came in. I read a few chapters in my book and made some soup broth to curve my hunger and likely a bit of dehydration.

N and I made dinner about an hour later. We enjoyed each other’s company.

I had a food surprise I was waiting to reveal to N until the 4th. I had brought a dehydrated apple crisp. We enjoyed our hot chocolate and apple crisp and chatted. We had a great Independence Day enjoying the freedom that our forefathers gave us.

The clouds made for a cooler evening, which made sleeping much more pleasant.

Day 8

The wind had died over night and the mosquitoes were able to find us once again. I got up to call for our morning check in, as well as to see when our pick up would be. I was excited and ready to go back to a real bed.

We were lucky and the weather was good both where we were and in Bettles so we would be able to get picked up on time. We had until 1130 to get our things packed, float a bit more down river and take apart the Ally canoe.

So we took our time getting ready enjoying breakfast and packing up our things. We got in the boat and floated down to our pick up.

We emptied our things out of the Ally and took her apart. The Ally had been a trusty steed and we thanked her for a good trip.

Everything got packed up and we waited for a plane. Right around 1130 the Cessna appeared and flew over us once, checking out the landing. The plane came back around landing this time.

Our pilot stepped out and greeted us. The first person we had seen since he left us 8 days ago.

We loaded all our things into the airplane and got in ourselves. Soon after we took off and we were headed home.

Our flight was back over the Kobuk Valley that we had come from. It was beautiful to see the river that we traveled from the sky. We flew over the lower canyon and looked at the rapids. I watched the large lakes go by as we flew east.

Right on the hour we arrived back in Bettles, I was happy to be back to take a shower and sleep in my bed.


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