Our Arctic Backyard

Posted On February 12, 2012

Filed under Blog Posts

Comments Dropped 2 responses

The endless winter continues up here in Coldfoot as we grind out every day on the calendar, one at a time. The sun’s back and the temperatures are a bit warmer, but damn, it seems impossible that all this snow could ever go away. And yet I know that miraculously, every last drop will have melted by July. It’s rather foolish to try understanding such an extreme place.

A few days ago, I donned a pair of snowshoes and walked with Lacy down the service road that runs along the pipeline. The temperature was fortunately above zero, and a light snow fell for most of our hike. After about a mile or so we veered off into the woods, clawing our way through waist-deep snow drifts. What a thrill to be so far from camp, away from anything familiar! Alone in the woods, the world smeared in nothing but grey and white, only the faint sounds of trucks from the distant highway tingling in your ears… it’s quite thrilling to wander along the edge of survival. Only the remnants of frozen trees peeked above the mounds of snow. Animal tracks- foxes, lynxes, moose, and wolves- crisscrossed the snowy terrain, wandering in all directions.

Eventually we made our way down to the windswept river plain, the frozen Koyukuk River lying buried under an endless expanse of snow. Amidst the bleak land, we stumbled across a ptarmigan kill, feathers scattered everywhere, a little blood staining the snow, and the footprints of a killer wandering back into the mysterious woods. We reckoned it must have been a lynx or something of similar size.

A bit more walking upriver brought us back to the Coldfoot airstrip and the mile-long runway. When you entire life, day-to-day, is contained in the same square mile, you really appreciate getting away and getting out into the surrounding world, even if it is just an empty arctic wilderness.

2 Responses to “Our Arctic Backyard”

  1. John Blackman

    I thought I might feel a bit warmer when I read this; but I still feel cold….!

  2. Colm


    Something to watch for… I know it’ll probably take all day to load but still…


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