Justin and I were moving slowly south, reluctant to relinquish the quiet of our time in the Arctic. Between the late summer snowstorm spent holed up in our truck in the Brooks Range and several days spent wandering along the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk river laughing over driftwood campfires, we glimpsed only a small handful of people from a distance as they raced one direction or the other along the Dalton Highway.
We relished the solitude. We relished the simplicity of concerning ourselves solely with the basics of life: warmth and weather and nourishment. We fell into the rhythm of the place, listening to the chalky river push around the rocks lining its bottom and watching the shadows move across Sukakpak Mountain’s massive marble peak as the days passed.
The last of August’s summer warmth fled the moment September arrived and we welcomed the signs of fall that greeted us everywhere. The alders and aspens and birches tucked in among the spruce were suddenly all golds and yellows. The blueberry and lingonberry turned deep garnet, the mountainsides and valleys rolling seas of fiery reds. Tessie’s fur thickened in the chill, but even so, we pulled out her down jacket so she could sleep alongside the fire in the sort of comfort to which she’d grown accustomed…Read More