Monday, April 28, 2008

White Out

I was lucky enough to have one more chance to head up to the North Slope this spring and try to fill my other caribou tag. Last time I went, I had to go it alone because Luke’s back had locked up on him. This time around Luke was as pert as a rutting buck and ready for the challenge of the slope. Luke’s friend Scotty was also joining in, and would be the third person in the hunting party. It was time to strap the skis on for one last time this spring and see if our efforts could provide some more red meat for the freezer. After about a mile we found ourselves skiing into a fog bank that reduced our visibility down to dozens of yards. The inability to establish any type of horizon had had me feeling the effects of vertigo.

An old caribou antler was some of the only relief in the seemingly featureless landscape. Scotty skis by in the background.

Here we are approaching Atigun Pass. Negotiating this pass is always a bit of a white knuckle experience.
Luke and Scott seem to have been cut and pasted onto a blank canvas.

I can say with a high level of certainty that we did not take the most direct route to our ultimate camp site, but the important thin is that we made it. We estimated coordinates off of the map and plugged them into the GPS to give a reference point.

We set up camp behind a small rise. It helped break the prevailing wind that evening.

We tried to hunt a little that evening but it proved to be a fairly fruitless endeavor. We would wait for the fog to lift before we would try again.

By 9:00 the next morning the fog had moved out of the area and we were able to enjoy our beautiful surroundings and have a much better chance at spotting some caribou.

Luke looks for some animals off in the distance.

We initially got busted by a small a group of three bou while on top of a small mountain. They were cooperative enough to run in the direction of our campsite, so we concocted a plan and made a sneak that yielded two nice animals. We were able to get the animals quartered out; camp broke, and ski back to the truck by 8:00 that night. We celebrated in Cold Foot with a big supper and a couple cups of coffee and landed back in Fairbanks around 5:00 the next morning. It was a bit of a push, but well worth the effort.

No comments: