Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Back to the Airstrip

Day 11:  Friday, June 21, 2002

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6-21-02 Summer Solstice

The day started with a clear view of our surroundings and a bit of blue sky.  Started our last day of hiking—to the airstrip.  Shortly after starting we saw hundreds of caribou, which surrounded us at one point, although did not get too close.  The snow still on the ground made a nice contrast and I got lots of pictures.  We went up over a pass to ovoid crossing the Aichilik River, then a long slog over tussocks to the airstrip.  Two planes were just flying in to pick up another Sierra Club group.  We set up camp by the airstrip in hopes of being picked up early tomorrow!





It was a surreal experience, the highlight of the entire trip for me, to see so many caribou in their natural environment.   The caribou were completely surrounding us at one point!  These animals are superbly adapted to their environment, being able to glide over the tussocks with no apparent effort, and being adapted to be able to digest lichen, a plentiful food source here that few animals can digest.

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