Day 113 - Come Fly with Me to the Arctic Circle
Trip Start May 01, 2013
172Trip End May 01, 2014
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What I did
For the most part the flight up was all instruments since the clouds were thick
After a very smooth landing on a hard packed gravel runway, we land in front of the Bettles Lodge - WHAT, no scenic view of a river? No beautiful long porch with rockers looking at the Brooks Range of Mountains? NO charm? Where AM I? You know how you fantasize (ok, romanticize) about a place? (Nick said I was describing Cracker Barrel!!! Well, this was NOT in my dreams. It was built in the 50's and it was rather small and not so nice to be quite honest. I'm sure the hunters who come there could care less, but it was not what was expected. Mind you the sun has come out, so all is not terribly wrong with the world or the Arctic for that matter.
We split up the group and half goes in one direction and the others of us in another. Our first destination was a tour of the town? Town, what they heck is she talking about town? There are about 66 people living here in the summer and half of them are smart enough to leave in the winter!!!
We cross over into the next "town" of Evansville population maybe 6? And all in all if we drove for 7 miles it was a lot. Some of the Elders from the tribe live there. The tribe owns all the land and you can build a house, but you can't own the land. So after our extensive land tour of 30 minutes we come back to the lodge for lunch. OMG, that was awful!
Next we switch and we go over to the VERY NICE and LARGE National Park Service building and museum. That place saved the day! We had a talk by a lady ranger who lives there full time and has for 6 years??? During the winter there are only two of them that man this place.
She gave us a great overview of the area and how they manage the gazillion acres that the park manages. The National Park up there is called the Gates of the Arctic and get this - NO roads in, NO trails, NO cell service (for emergency calls) and NO back country passes needed to go in. NO ONE KNOWS YOU ARE THERE? So how many people go in they have no idea, and how many come out, no one has any idea??? Ok, so how many are eaten by those large bears? No one seems to know or even to care...ya, I'm going there!!
We all gathered around 2:30 for our flight back to civilization (actually we more like ran pushing and shoving to make sure we got on). Bill was our pilot, and he really saved the day. He was a great guy. On the way back he flew low so that we could see all kinds of things along the way back. We saw the pipeline, where the ice highway is in winter (Not the one Ice Truckers use - they use the real road) across frozen rivers, streams, tundra, perm-frost and hard packed snow. We learned that 10 feet of show packs down to 3 feet because there is no water in it. He also showed us the only bridge to cross the Yukon River (wow), and where the fires had been and where the perm-frost is still burning underground, and the actual site where there is a sign that denotes the "entrance" to the Arctic Circle. It was a great flight and we really did learn a lot.
Turns our Bill owns the Pump House Restaurant that we had seen the day before on our boat trip. We decided to go there for dinner and he was nice enough to buy the 4 of us a nice bottle of wine.
All in all, we were all glad to have made the trip that not many get to experience. Oh, and by the way, NO ANIMALS??? Where ARE they hiding???? Enjoy the trip!!