Back to the Arctic

Bunny and I are in Fairbanks, Alaska. Tomorrow we fly back to the Arctic- from Fairbanks to Bettles on a small plane and then, on an even smaller plane, just big enough for the two of us, the pilot and our gear, we fly from Bettles to near the headwaters of the Noatak river in Gates of the Arctic National Park. At the Noatak we’ll offload twenty five days of food as well as our two inflatable kayaks and two steel bear barrels, wave goodbye as the plane lifts into the sky, inflate our boats and begin our paddle to the Chukchi sea.

I have only ever been in a kayak for a few hours. Bunny was a whitewater kayak guide. The Noatak is supposed to be chill- class one and two. Except for when the water is high or low, according to the old timer at the gear store who used to guide there. Hopefully the water will just be regular for us? Real hot summer never did come to the Alaskan arctic and interior this year. I arrived in Fairbanks yesterday to rain. The forecast is all over the place. I’m going to learn a lot in the approximately 360 miles we’ll paddle to the Chukchi sea, that’s for sure.

One great thing about kayaking, so far, as opposed to long distance hiking, is that weight is not as much of an issue. I have all sorts of luxuries, such as extra food and my warmer sleeping bag, and fleece layers I found at value village that aren’t even meant to be worn all at once. When it’s hot we’ll wear shorts instead of our drysuits. Bunny has a waterproof bluetooth speaker. I have lots of audiobooks and five bags of chips. The salmon run brings all the bears to the yard. It’s gonna be great.

I won’t have reception until I come back mid august, and then I’ll have three weeks of blog posts for yall. The river part of our trip is much more of a sure bet than the walking part was this year of extra rain, and I’m looking forward to having something go well. We shall see!

We’ve raised $6,800 for Defend the Sacred AK! Thank you so much to everyone who donated! Here is the fundraiser, yall! (Also, GoFundMe just bought YouCaring and is closing all YouCaring campaigns July 31, so I moved the fundraiser to GoFundMe.) It’s so exciting to support such an awesome project that is unlike anything. Peep their sick website here, if you haven’t already, and see for yourself why it’s so awesome. This sentence from their vision makes me feel all weepy, in a good way:

“We envision an Alaska that is guided by Indigenous knowledge and place-based knowledge in a post-oil economy.”

And thanks to everyone who ordered one of my zines- those have all shipped via media mail. And if you missed the deadline don’t worry- I’ll likely do another printing in the fall!