We have spent the past few days in the Arctic (above the Arctic circle) and it's been fascinating - experiencing a landscape that is continually altered by ice and cold, it is so foreign to us.

 

We had the opportunity to attend a presentation given by a park ranger at the Gates of the Arctic National Park, and hear how he prepared for month long expeditions into the park in winter, traveling on foot with snow shoes and carrying all his supplies on a sled. Such extreme conditions to prepare for but in many ways doing the same job my dad did in national parks at home. Many of the issues are the same, people and litter, maintenance of camp grounds and facilities, the management of fire and its importance in maintaining diverse landscapes, and providing support and guidance to researchers studying these environments. One difference though between here and national parks at home is here they take conservation/preservation a step further with legislated protection of 'wilderness.'

 

The 4 qualities an area of protected wilderness has include:

1. Remains natural

2. Is untrammeled i.e. Free from modern human manipulation

3. Is undeveloped - retaining primitive character, without structure or occupation

4. Provide opportunities for solitude and primitive and unconfined recreation - i.e. silence!

 

Areas are monitored to ensure these characters are maintained and as such park rangers cannot use motorized vehicles, so no snow mobiles or atv's which are used extensively outside of wilderness areas. Hence the 30 days on foot in the backcountry to patrol the park. In Denali the park has its own dog sled team which is used to monitor the wilderness areas. The concept of wilderness is taken very seriously with no road access into the Gates of the Arctic national park, and dog sled teams are used to supply materials needed for projects and to remove waste. The dog teams only work in winter so rangers walk in in summer to mark the location of rubbish with gps and then the dog teams go in during the winter to retrieve the waste. It's really admirable the effort that is taken to ensure the preservation of wilderness character.

 

The dog sled team at Denali gave the children great delight. The dogs were beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of pulling the sled for the tourists, and only 5 out of about 20 dogs get to do it each time - the rest howl with anticipation. The kennel comes to life for about 5 minutes, 2 minutes to gather the chosen few, 2 minutes to harness up and 1 minute to run the circuit, then silence, it's all over.  

 

We wanted to come to Alaska for the 'frontier' feel, and it does not disappoint, the area above the Arctic Circle is extreme, the Dalton Highway aka the haul road from ice road truckers has been developed to support industry, built beside the Trans-Alaska pipeline it enables oil drilling at The Arctic Ocean, but ultimately provides a glimpse into an untouched wilderness, a harsh and remote beauty, which prompts visitors to consider to immense value of the untouched in today's busy busy world -I feel very privileged to have experienced this.

 

Sometimes in Alaska it feels as if roads are built just so you can drive them and experience the immense beauty of the landscape. Roads existing for no other reason then the drive. This trip is the ultimate road trip destination. It feels like you are gorging on the landscape, drinking it in with an unquenchable thirst. This place creates a primal desire to go further, push harder and explore more, redefining the idea of having 'done' or 'seen' something and making you seek to satisfy the thirst, pushing you to discover more - the end of the road.... what's around the next corner..... just one more mile.

Comments: 2
  • #2

    M (Monday, 09 October 2023 20:22)

    I am in love with ur daughter

  • #1

    Miranda (Tuesday, 07 February 2023 22:07)

    Truly adorable!