Sunday, December 12, 2010

Farewell Alaska

I'm in the Fairbanks airport looking at a giant stuffed white wolf. I have about 12 hours till my flight to Seattle, which I plan to spend hungry and curled up in my sleeping bag under a bench. Not the most dignified way of spending my last night in Alaska, but it will have to do.

This is in Fairbanks. At the Yukon River it dipped to - 48 F

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Once a Skier

Classic skiing here is great. You have to make your own tracks, but once you've set a good 5 km loop you're good to go. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mushing Dogs

Chad (my boss) has 28 sled dogs. He moved here from Minnesota 8 years ago and never looked back. The dogs need daily exercise and training, so he lets us handle and train them. Every individual consumes about 10,000 calories/day. Crazy right?  
Usual chaos in the dog lot

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Tale of Roxy the Fox, Poachers and Shooting

Fox of the Baskervilles

We've had a very affectionate fox, that we've nicknamed "Roxy", hanging around camp. It usually comes out at night and patrols the area for any voles and mice hiding under the buildings.

The Deadhorse Experience

I was sent to work at Prudhoe Bay for a month in October. The tundra is flat, white, windy and expansive. You can see the curvature of the earth in every direction.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Life in the Arctic

End of September we had our first snowfall. More than 70% of my fellow coworkers left for warmer grounds. Coldfoot was left with a crew of nine.

Coldfoot Camp in early winter

Mountains and Aurora

The Aurora. It's hard to describe to anyone. Imagine neon-green, yellow, red streaks flowing through the sky. It's 3-D and dynamic: like flowing, winding, flickering fingers.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Coldfoot Workers

The summer was filled with towering bonfires, booze cruising, pond-hockey, attempted beer get the picture. (note: some of these photos were taken by other coworkers) 

Mining Gold for a Day

 While working at the Cafe, I met a miner named Tom and his wife Louise. They own a mining claim 8 miles up Linda Creek and have spent their lives shoveling dirt and washing it to extract gold. They invited me to visit for a day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Boneyard: Random Machinery

There are a lot of random cars, buses, mining equipment strewn about Alaska.... not including the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline pictured below (note: some of these are Teddy's photos) 

ANWR Excursion: Finding Missiles and Scaring Grizzlies

August. Faith and I are dropped off by bush plane in the Wind River Drainage, 100 miles from any settlement or road in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 
This backpacking trip fulfilled my Jack-London-inspired childhood dreams of northern mountainous exploration. It was just the two of us, 300 caribou, and several grizzlies for 5 adventure-filled, perfect, epic days. WARNING: lots of me-photos that Faith took

Washing Planes and Meeting Ted Turner's Son

I mentioned that I worked part-time at a bush airplane company. It's owned and run by a wonderful family with two kids. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Solo Backcountry Backpacking

I prefer to go solo on my backpacking trips. I trust my judgment and take calculated risks. Some call me anti-social and rash, but I prefer only being responsible for myself, not having to worry about another person's weaknesses. 

Bears and Other Encounters

So the number one question I get from truckers, tourists, friends is “aren’t you scared of the bears?”.

A Hitchhikers Guide to Alaska

In my free time I hitchhiked up and down the Haul Road, back-country, solo backpacking my way through deserted drainages, traversing ridges, climbing peaks, dipping in creeks. The sun never set, so I could hike for 15-18 hours straight and not have to worry about finding a place to camp: I’d find a rocky ledge, set my sleeping bag down and take a 3-4 hour nap.


Coldfoot Beginnings

Exploring the northern reaches of Alaska has been high on my priority list since I read Jack London's Call of the Wild (in Russian) as a ten-year-old. So I applied for work across the state, and 4 hours after completing my Multivariable Calculus exam, I flew to Fairbanks, and then by bush plane to Coldfoot to start my new job.  I wanted to hitchhike up to Alaska from the lower 48, but I had time constraints. Oh well, another time.

The Start

I’m known as Nat, Nat-a-tat, Natty, Nattles, Natasha…. I’m a student-majoring in Chemistry and Math + a dose of engineering. I’m currently in the midst of taking a year off to explore the world before life ties me down.