Brooks Range Vacation VI - End of summer

This is the last blog entry, retelling the story of my 500 kilometer summer solo hike through the gigantic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Brooks Range, Alaska. I am on my way down to the Ribdon River as part of my journey towards the Atigun Gorge and the end of my walk; The Road a k a Dalton Highway. This would be the low and easy route I had chosen after some earlier experiences, not worth repeating, along a high route  Well, at least this route was lower...

By Jörgen Johansson 

My camera broke when the pack tumbled, described in chapter IV, so all photos are of course taken before that and those shown here do not depict the actual area described in the text. Still, I have tried to choose photos that support the narrative.

Brooks Range Vacation V - Re-booting

During the steep traverse, described in chapter IV, I lost my pack when it tumbled down a rocky slope. I hoped I could find it at the bottom of the gorge, otherwise things could get difficult.

By Jörgen Johansson

My camera broke when the pack tumbled, so all photos are of course taken before that and do not depict the actual area described in the text. Still, I have tried to choose photos that support the narrative.

Brooks Range Vacation IV - Steep

With a considerably lighter pack than when I started out from Joe Creek some ten days ago I kept a good pace, walking into the gate of the mountains on my way to the pass that would take me across the Continental Divide

By Jörgen Johansson

Brooks Range Vacation III - Rain and Shine

The rain had started again by mid-afternoon, when my descent ended at the Sheenjek river bed. Things did not look too bad. There was no lake, just a wide valley almost filled with gravel bars intermingled with some running water. 

By Jörgen Johansson

Brooks Range Vacation II - Glory Days

Three days later found me at ‘Camp Mud’, on a silt beach along the Kongakut, some experiences richer. I was beginning to feel the rhytm I was reaching for. This was the first night I was not exhausted. The two previous nights I had slept better than any night I have ever slept in the outdoors, just completely knockered. Also, the food was now beginning to taste good, not only something you shoveled down because you had to.

By Jörgen Johansson

Brooks Range Vacation I - The Beginning

Finally there. Landed and supporting my pack beside the plane, exchanging a few last words with Dirk Nickisch of Coyote Air.

By Jörgen Johansson

Brooks Range - gear reflections on stove and footwear

Here you will find some reflections on stove and shoes used during my 500 km summer hike, travelling solo through the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Brooks Range, Alaska. More about the background here, brief trip reports here and gear reflections on the three big ones here.

By Jörgen Johansson

Brooks Range vacation - gear reflections; the 3 big ones

Some background on my 500 km solo hike in Brooks Range, Alaska can be found here and some brief, daily trip reports here. I am still digesting all the impressions, but plan to write a more full-bodied trip report in the near future. However, here are some reflections on some of the gear I used for my hike through one of the worlds few remaing huge wilderness areas; Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

By Jörgen Johansson

Brooks Range vacation - progress report

Here you will find some more or less regular progress reports for my solo hike along the crest of Brooks Range Alaska, in July 2014. This posting will be updated by my wife Ann, with reports received via satellite phone. I will try to make daily contact, but that will probably not always work. You will find more or less the same postings on Facebook, but the postings on the blog here will likely contain some more information.

By Jörgen Johansson

July 4 2014:
Ann writing: Morning July 4. Jorgen camped at 68.95690N/141.54718W. Flight worked well but GPS-tracker was left in Coldfoot. Not so good but Jörgen is an old fox that can handle maps and compass.

July 5 2014:
Ann writing: Lunch July 5. Jorgen was at 68.98099N/142.10365W. Yesterday (Friday) was tiresome with uphill walking towards Kongakut (a river Jörgen will follow for some days) and a heavy pack. Walked 15 km.
Today (Saturday) it’s a nice and warm day. Walks slowly but it’s less to carry for each meal.

July 6 2014:
Ann writing: Evening July 6. Jorgen camped at 68.93403N/142.74010W. Saturday Jorgen walked 15 km. It was hard work but wonderful. The Kongakut valley is like a paradise.
Sunday walked 18 km. Easy going on gravel bars. Seem to have started to get used to walking. It is warm, 25 degrees Celsius.

July 7 2014:

Ann writing: Evening July 7. Camped at 68.88461N/143.20569W. Everything is fine. The sun is shining. Found some shade for lunch. No mosquitos. Walked 21 km and Jörgen is very pleased.  He is now on schedule and loves it.

July 8 2014:
Ann writing: Evening July 8. Camped at 68.82568N/143.54996W. Walked 14 km. He is still on schedule. Forded Sheenjek River, which was fairly easy to do. He will go south of Double Mtn. Jörgen is a bit irritated at me because he doesn’t get my answers to his satellite phone but he will have to live with that I’m afraid. Technical problem.
July 9 2014:

Ann writing: Wednesday lunch time July 9. 68.77746N/143.67073W. On Google Earth you can see some nice pics from this area. Not taken by Jörgen, but anyway.
Not received any location for evening camp, but he says west of Double mtn. A large herd of caribou has passed by. Around 1 000 animals. Walked 20 km during Wednesday.
I don’t know why he has chosen this route but it might be that it’s easier to navigate without having a GPS. He was supposed to take a route north of Double mtn.

July 10 2014:

Ann writing: Thursday evening July 10. 68.89111N/144.27527W. He has now reached The East Fork of the Chandalar river and says he’s on schedule.  Walked 20 km today and actually met two other human beings. Unbeliveable.
I will say thank you to Martin Nordesjö and Jonas Hållén who have helped him with finding coordinates for a pass further on. Thank you so much. It eases my heart and will help Jörgen to find his way.
Also thanks to Daniel (our youngest son) that checks my writing.
July 11 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Friday evening July 11. 68.97431N/144.63922W. Walked 22 km today and passed Guilbeau Pass at lunchtime. It was difficult finding a route due to gorges. Passing scree areas was also an experience. Scree areas are obviously difficult to climb due to how the gravel shoots you back down. Jörgen follows his planned route and schedule. 

July 12 2014:
Ann and Daniel writing: Saturday evening July 12. No position. Walked 18 km. It has been raining all night and day. The ground is rough, boggy and soggy.  He might have some trouble with his shoes because he asks for shoes and duct tape in the cache. Tomorrow is a high altitude pass.  

July 13 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Sunday evening July 13. 68.86848N/144.99023W. Walked 15 km. It has been the hardest day so far.  It was difficult to find the way through the pass. He made it but came out further to the south than planned. No problems though, he will follow Red Sheep Creek or Cane Creek to his cache at Canning River. 

July 14 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Monday evening July 14. 68.79317N/145.26695W. Walked 16 km. It has been raining all night and day. Jörgen is camping on a very beautiful spot. I’m looking forward to seeing the photos. He has seen his first bear on this trip but it was far away.

July 15 2014:
Ann and Daniel writing: Tuesday evening July 15. Position from lunchtime 68.79849N/145.40685W. Walked 13 km. He has had difficulties with one or more gorges. The Spot Messenger is broken, so there will be no position information until he reaches the cache, which he will do tomorrow. I think also his camera and compass is in need of replacement. I hope to have more information about that tomorrow.

July 17 2014:
Ann and Daniel writing: Thursday lunch July 17. Jörgen has reached the cache. Everything is fine. Tomorrow he will rest. The reason for so many broken things is that the backpack rolled down a steep hill. He has what he needs in the cache except for a camera.   

July 17 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Thursday evening July 17 still at Canning River. He has used the day for washing, sorting and resting. Dirk and Danielle from Coyote Air were there with some friends. Jörgen took the opportunity to discuss the route with Dirk. Jörgen will now take a route that is further to the north than planned. The route is on lower elevation which will make it easier.

July 18 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Friday evening July 18. Evening position close to Porcupine Lake. He is still following his planned route and saying that it will be easy doesn’t quite fit the description. Todays 15 km have been the worst for the legs so far. Heavy pack again, steep hill and walking in tussocks all day. With tussocks you have three choices. 1) Jumping from one tussock to the next. Speedy but dangerous. 2) Walking around them. Will be many extra steps but safe.  3) Following a straight line stepping up and down. Hard for the legs.
He is very pleased with his mosquito net. Says it would have been impossible without it. Knowing that Jörgen has a very high tolerance for mosquitos I guess most of us would have found it insufferable.

July 19 2014:
Ann and Daniel writing: Saturday evening July 19. 68 44 44.9N, 146 50 15.3W He is now following the Ivishak River. Walked 18 km today and feeling many years younger than yesterday. Less tussock today. 

July 20 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Sunday lunch July 20. 68 42 50.6N, 146 57 45.7W Walked 18 km today (no position for evening). It was heavy rain during night but not so much during the day. He has walked a canyon with a creek he has crossed many times today. He is now walking north from his planned route and will have a pass tomorrow. He has got GPS positions from Dirk and also borrowed a map because this route is not covered by his maps.

July 21 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Monday evening July 21. 68 40 56.4N, 147 38 48.7W Walked 22 km over a low pass at 1 500 m. Nice but convoluted. Jörgen camps at Ribdon River, which is a dry river at this spot. He will follow the river for some days.

July 22 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Tuesday evening July 22. 68 38 38.8N, 148 00 12.2W Walked only 16 km today because of a broken waist belt that needed to be mended. It has been raining all day so he had lunch in the tent. There are many pictures on google earth from this area.

July 23 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Wednesday evening July 23. 68 38 22.7N, 148 34 34.8W Walked 24 km along Ribdon River to Elusive Lake and after that over a pass to the south. It was a tough way to end the day and after that there was a brief rainstorm. You call that a vacation? We are curious about what route he will follow the next couple of days.

July 24 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Thursday evening July 24. 68 36 39.0N, 148 53 42.6W Walked 17 km. Snow and rain made Jörgen camp early. He is after all on vacation :-)
 Expects a chilly night, there is some snow on the tent. 4 degrees Celsius compared to 30 in Stockholm. 

July 25 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Friday evening July 25. 68 31 38.1N, 149 00 34.0W Walked 14 km. It has been a hard day with 8 to 10 km of tussocks hidden by 20 cm snow. At the end of the day he crossed the Sag River and the Atigun River.

July 26 2014:

Ann and Daniel writing: Saturday evening July 26. 68 28 08.5N, 149 17 48.6W Walked 14 km. Cold night. He has passed beautiful Atigun Gorge. See picture on Google Earth. It’s only 4 km till he reaches the road. Walk ends tomorrow… 

July 27 2014:
Reached the pipline and Dalton Highway 11.21 local time.

"World's lightest tents" at Outdoor 2014

Here are some more previews of tents that will premiere at the Outdoor 2014 show 10-13 july in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

By Martin Nordesjö

In 2015 Terra Nova will expand their cuben fiber "Ultra" series with a couple of two-person tents: the freestanding Solar Ultra 2 and the two-person version of the Laser Ultra. They are both allegedly "the lightest tents in the world" in their respective segment. Personally I don't give a further thought to claims like that, but lightweight multiperson tents always make me happy. The price tag will probably make me less happy.

Terra Nova Solar Ultra 2: weight unknown

370 g sleeping bag and 65 g jacket from Haglöfs in Outdoor 2014

Among the new lightpacking products that Haglöfs will reveal at Outdoor 2014 in Friedrichshafen, the most notable are probably the new L.I.M sleeping bags and a new wind jacket. I'm a bit skeptic about the usefulness of a 370 g synthetic sleeping bag, but a 65 g wind jacket might be nice as long as you are OK with the candy wrapper look.

By Martin Nordesjö

Haglöfs L.I.M Wind Pull, 65 g
L.I.M Wind Pull
When your clothes are so ligtweight that they become transparent, it's generally a good time to stop and think. Unless you really, really like Quality Street candy of course. At 0,065 kg the L.I.M Wind Pull is the lightest garment from Haglöfs ever.

Brooks Range vacation - the three big ones

For my 500 km solo hike along the crest of Brooks Range in Alaska, I will need a lot of gear. However, the gear will not need to be as heavy as some might expect. Will I be able to abide by my 343 rule; that the collective weight of the three big ones (shelter, pack and sleep system) will not exceed 3 kilos/7 pounds?

By Jörgen Johansson

First picture of Thermarest Evolite and some other stuff we will see in Friedrichshafen 2014

Updated with weight and other details!

In about a month the Outdoor show in Friedrichshafen will open its doors and show what the industry has in store for the coming year. Evolite is a new sleeping mattress from Thermarest that will probably get some attention from the lightpacking community. It has both the word "evo" and the word "lite" in the name, and we have no defense against that.

By  Martin Nordesjö

Thermarest Evolite
Thermarest Evolite: 5 cm thick, 480 g

Brooks Range - Vacation plans

The Brooks Range of Alaska is one of the worlds few remaining huge wildernesses. It has been on my list since the mid 70's. I'm beginning to feel that if I shall ever get around to doing a long walk among those un-named mountains, now is the time. So I am planning my summer vacation there

By Jörgen Johansson

How to make your own (almost) free waterproof maps of Sweden

If you like your hikes long, you will have to spend a lot of money on superfluous mapping just to cover your specific trail, and getting waterproof maps is sometimes impossible. But there is another way: if you can find a website that uses good quality maps you can simply take screenshots and print them on waterproof paper. This is a quick guide that shows you how to do it for Swedish maps.

By Martin Nordesjö

The Beta version of Lantmäteriet's map site is fantastic.

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