I put Jason the 10:30 AM flight to Fairbanks, then traded out cream of wheat, brown sugar, and butter, for hash browns, two eggs, and blackened reindeer sausage back at the Nunamut.
I left town at noon.
It was soon 75 degrees under a sunny, calm sky.
I hurried along an ATV trail, unburdened of my camera, and my load, only the size of a day pack.
I had my sleep clothes, my cook pot, the pyramid tarp, firestarter, first aid kit, water bottle, satellite phone, and two days of food.
I made 22 miles in 7 hours, and a total of 38 miles in 15 hours, climbing over a 5400 foot pass en route.
The twisted and folded limestone mountains here, cut with gullies, spires, and waterfalls, are the most spectacular mountains on the route. This is the region that early wilderness advocate Bob Marshall named "Gates of the Arctic", and what an apt name it is.
As the alpenlight glowed, I hurried down through frosty meadows with ice on the ponds. I was thinking a lot about my wife, Peggy. Twenty years ago to the week, we spent a romantic month in these mountains, hiking and rafting. She was pregnant with our first child, a pregnancy barely two months old. I miss her, and my two kids.
I'm really glad to be almost out.
- Roman Dial