Arctic Conditions

Terrain

071_71Many of the mountains are over 7,000’ and are carved by moving ice and rivers. The alpine areas at the higher elevations are cut up with glaciers that drain into brooks gathering water as they lose elevation from rain, snow and ice melt. The mountains are rugged rock covered in areas with tundra and low vegetation. As you work your way north toward the coast the mountains quickly lose their roughness and become low rolling hills that flatten off to the coastal plain. The creeks that flow out of the mountains become rivers that flow fast and fluctuate with the season. As the rivers drop out of the mountains they fan out leaving a braided gravel bar. In places, the rivers will have cut banks and drop quicker in elevation as they cut through low rolling hills. As they enter the Beaufort Sea they are swift, wide, large bodies of water. The coastal plain is tundra with a lot of boggy, marsh lands with small pothole lakes and puddles. The tundra has poor drainage due to the permafrost and long months of freezing temperatures. The coastline is jagged with estuaries and spits, which in the summer months will have ice jams and clear blue water.

 

Climate

NGP 9 046Climate on the north slope of the Brooks Range is best described as Arctic. The temperatures will vary from 60 below to 75 above between summer and winter. There is permafrost a few feet down in August. It can snow any time of year. Rain levels are relatively low but the ground stays saturated from poor drainage due to the permafrost. The ice pack off of the coast has a big influence on temperatures and fog. Fog will be common along the foothills to the coast line. An onshore breeze will blow the fog upslope against the range. Often one side of the range or the other is influenced by a low front resulting in poor weather. Strong high pressure will build over the region and result in periods of beautiful weather. But like any mountain environment the weather is always changing and is hard to predict. Temperatures in August will range from light frost to 75 degrees and vary with sun, rain and snow in the same day.

Be mentally prepared for non-hunt days and non-fly days due to poor weather. This is just part of hunting in remote Alaska. The weather is unpredictable and there are no acurate weather forecasts. We access NOAA weather by internet and stay up dated but our best weather is a visual assessment and called in by you and the guide in the field. The mountains make their own squall lines. Bad weather

 

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The mountains are calling and I must go.

John Muir