“Point, you’re going to want to retreat; Point, you need to retreat.”
During the day, park rangers stood sentry at various places throughout Brooks Camp, monitoring bear activity and sharing details with one another via radio. We were on the Lower River Platform, and the ranger had his binoculars trained on a spot across the Brooks River known as the Point. He was letting his counterpart know that a bear was headed their way.
The first leg of our trip to Utqiaġvik was a 100-minute flight to the oil town of Deadhorse. Barely a dot on the map, Deadhorse is one of three cities above the Arctic Circle to which Alaska Airlines flies, the other two being Kotzebue and Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow).
We celebrated when we landed; we’d left Anchorage at 7:39 that Saturday morning, and now, not even 2 hours later, we were above the Arctic Circle! The plane sat on the runway for a few minutes, allowing us time to revel in this knowledge. A few people disembarked the plane and others got on; then the pilot made his usual pre-flight announcements, saying that we were “number one for take off.” This made us laugh—we were the only commercial plane in the airport. It wasn’t long before we were back in the air, and Utqiaġvik was just a short flight northwest along the coastline.
There are numerous Camino routes throughout Europe, including Camino Francés, the most popular walk and the one featured in a favorite movie of ours, The Way. So why, then, did we choose to walk one of the lesser known routes, Camino del Norte?
We had a particular vision for what we wanted in our Camino experience, and Dale did some serious homework to find the trail that most matched that vision:
I experienced a great deal of anxiety while walking the Camino, and much of it was centered around getting lost. A part of me feared that we would disappear into the wilderness of northern Spain, licking the peanut dust off our empty snack bags to survive.
Never mind that Camino del Norte is not that wild; I was neurotic about having the right resources during our journey.
The Iditarod wrapped up yesterday, with the last few mushers trickling into Nome. Iditarod 2017 may go down as one of the greatest races of all time. It was fast, with the top four mushers coming in under what was the standing speed record. And the champion, Mitch Seavey, shattered that record (set by his son Dallas only a year ago) while also becoming the oldest person ever to win the Iditarod.
You’d think it would be easy to spot Denali, North America’s tallest peak. It is, after all, over 20,000 feet tall. In reality, the mountain formerly known as Mount McKinley is notoriously elusive. It makes its own, constantly changing weather and is usually cloud-covered, so the odds of seeing it are fairly low. In a single day, there’s about a 33% chance of seeing the mountain in its entirety, and odds aren’t that much better that you’ll even get a glimpse of it.
That’s why Dale and I spent ten nights camping in Denali National Park and Preserve, a long time to spend in a single campground.