Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chris Visits from Zambia - part 2 (part 1 still to come): Packrafting in the Brooks Range

My friend Chris has been living in Southern Africa for the last 8 years or so. He's currently living in Lusaka, Zambia working for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) doing aide work. I've been over to visit him in Africa a few times, but he just made his first visit up to Alaska (about time you bastard). Chris and I, along with my roomate Ed, did a packrafting trip up in the Brooks Range in Northern Alaska. This was my first time to visit this part of the state and I was really impressed. The mountains are amazing and had a timeless sense about them. You could almost imagine dinosaurs wandering around, and Fred, Barney, and Dino too.

We couldn't hold back our enthusiasm to reach the arctic circle.

Or this big outcrop of rocks.

Or to be excited that my car made it up the road.

Or, to be excited about Chris's superpowers.

Or Ed's for that matter.

After our excitement qwelled for a moment, we began our hike away from the road. This is looking back towards where we parked our car.

The mountains are amazing of course, this photo shows a little scale.

We found a waterfall and were very excited once again.

The water poured out through a hole. Pretty amazing. Ed and I ducked under the water for a cold shower.

Ed brought his "bush buddy" stove with for boiling water. It's pretty cool. You just need a small pile of twigs and you can quickly boil water. It's very lightweight and convenient as long as you can find dry twigs.

Ed and Chris were very excited about the good weather.

We had to climb up high to get through the valley and were excited to get to the top.

Then we had to climb down.

And back up again.

Here is the rare... the elusive... the ferocious... Chrisabou!

We did have some river crossings to do.

Chris and I got very tired after 12 mile days, but Ed just kept on going. He makes the energizer bunny look like a fat kid with a mullet.

More hiking up and down and up and down.

Here some ice protruded up from just under the surface. It was a huge chunk of ice. I'm not sure what caused this to happen, but it shows what lies underneath the surface.

Here's Ed's new online profile pic. Ooooh.

We were excited to find a fantastic campsite up high with great views.

Then we were excited to swim in Elusive Lake the last morning of the trip.

We finally got to where we planned to inflate the rafts we had carried with us up and down and up and down through the mountains.


We were excited to get started with the rafting.

The river was pretty tame overall, but was pretty fast. It's the Ribdon River which flows down on the North side of the Brooks Range towards the Arctic Ocean. There were some fun little bumps along the way, but overall was a relaxing and beautiful float.

Our friend's Dea and Ben moved my car along the highway to near where our trip finished. It was only a short hike along the road to get back to the car to drive back to Fairbanks. Overall, a great trip, and of course it was great to have Chris visit and to see an area of the state that very few people see.