Noatak River adventure

Saturday, August 21, 2004
We flew from Fairbanks to Bettles, AK and then flew a float plane from Bettles to 11-mile-slough, a small lake near the Noatak river. We then spent 8 days floating the river/exploring the valley and 3 days waiting for a ride out of the wilderness. I did some of the best hiking I've ever seen.
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Panoramic shot from this place.
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Time to head down.
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HUGE
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Come on!  Harley is waiting.
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On the way down, we found this Dall Sheep skull.
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Sunset
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"Darkness".  The next morning, we set out alone on the river after leaving a beer cache for the others to find.
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Passing the Ipnelivik River, I saw a bunch of caribou close up.  The dogs were napping in the boat and again did not notice the caribou.  (Although, surprisingly, the dogs were great grizzly detectors.  Every time we saw a bear, it was preceded by several minutes of dog growling noises).
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Caribou
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After setting up Camp 6, we went hiking!
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Looking East at the twisting Noatak River.
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Lake Matcharak -- where we would get picked up over 4 days later.
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Matcharak again
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Dogs napping on mountaintop.  They get plenty of exercise on this trip.
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A last view of Mount Oyukak
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Camp 6.  We saw loads of caribou in this area.
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Quartz
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The next day, Sandy,John,Eric,JeffW hiked in the same area.
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The wriggly Noatak River.
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Sandy, I think.
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JeffW
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The zigzag Noatak River.
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JeffW, enjoying the view.
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Looking about.
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Caribou
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view
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Sandy and John
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Sandy and John
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At the end of our journey -- Lake Matcharak.  Due to unflyable conditions (smoke), we were stuck here for the next 3 days.
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It wasn't altogether unpleasant.
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All the gear portaged and ready to go.
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John, Lake Trout
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Ditto
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view from lake
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ditto
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Eric, lake trout
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and another
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sandy, trout
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sandy, dog.
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John, fish.
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I had run out of dogfood.  Sandy caught this fish and dedicated it for dogfood. 
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We built a fire in the rain, cooked the fish, and fed it to the dogs.  Surprisingly, the dogs weren't thrilled to eat the fish. 
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John's rain shelter
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Uh..ignore this picture.
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Finally, after waiting 3 days, we heard the blessed sound of a plane engine.  The planes arrived and rescued us.  The following pictures come from John and Sandy on the plane ride back to Bettles.
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Neat-o pointy mountains.
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Wow.
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Would love to get a closer look.
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Firefighting activity in Bettles.
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Firefighting plane in Bettles
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The Yukon river through the smoke.
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John and Sandy flew back to Portland from Fairbanks (I drove).  From the jet plane, they took these pictures.
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Excellent