Despite having lived in Arctic Village, my jaunts into the countryside have been limited. Being overwhelmed as a first year teacher, I restricted travel to only a couple hours, usually just taking short hikes or ski excursions in close proximity to the school. So Saturday when I was invited to climb one of the nearby peaks I jumped at the opportunity.
Sunday morning we shoved off the shore of the Chandalar River in two inflatible kayaks. Our group of four paddled about 1.25 miles downriver. We began our hike on the far shore. The first and last three miles of the hike would become some of the hardest hiking I've ever done. Forget steep inclines or hiking at elevation, crossing tundra tussocks was exhausting. Totally draining the energy out of every muscle as you not only use legs, but core strength to balance on these floating islands of grass. It was like walking on marbles. And forget stepping inbetween the grass domes, some gaps were shallow, while others caused you to sink knee deep in freezing water or muck.
We arrived back to the school boat ramp almost 12 hours after we had left. The total hike covered 9.5 miles, and the total paddle was 2.5 miles. Linda, our school Special Education greeted us with warm stew (thanks Linda)!
After an amazing day in the wilderness, we were blessed with a spectacular sunset.