Gates of the Arctic National Park, Day 4
Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
192Trip End Oct 14, 2011
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We had a ptarmigan come running through camp holding its winds away from its body and making a lot of noise. Our theory was that it was trying to look wounded and hoped to lead us away from its nest. We founds its nest, complete with eight spotted eggs. Its strange dance didn't work but it was entertaining.
A short time later a young caribou jumped in the river across from our camp and started swimming our way. I then noticed the wolf standing on shore that had chased the caribou into the river. The caribou got to our side of the river, saw us and then headed back into deeper water. It eventually landed on a small gravel island a few hundred yards downstream from us.
We packed up and got back into the canoe. The caribou was still on the island but as we were heading toward it, it was chased back into the water by what we think was a different wolf. It wasn't looking good for the caribou. We saw another wolf as we paddled downstream.
We eventually found a good place to stop and set up camp. It was a high gravel bar and the river had continued to drop since the second evening so we felt secure. We decided to hike up one of the mountains on the other side of the river so we paddled to the other side and set off through the tundra. There were sizable trees (at least by tundra standards) and a couple streams we had to cross near the river. After that we had to slog through a lot of tundra hummocks, small tufts of vegetation with moats around them. It was tough trying to keep your feet dry.
We eventually reached a goat trail on a ridge. We followed the ridge toward the summit of the hill. We walked until we reached a lower summit. We stopped and took some pictures. The weather started to look bad so we decided to head down instead of going all the way up to the top.
When we reached the first stream we had to cross, Moe was complaining about how the mosquitoes were bothering him. It seemed to me that they weren't really bothering him much at all but that they were really seem attracted to me. We each stuck out a hand and counted the mosquitoes. I was right; they liked me much better. I won, or lost, depending on how you look at it, 9-0. I had such a cloud following me, it sounded like I was carrying a beehive in my backpack.
We got back to our boat and paddled back to our camp, had dinner and settled in for the night.