Time to Head South
Kiana Travel Blog› entry 23 of 38 › view all entries
The month of August in the arctic can be as unpredictable as October in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Sunny days of summer can linger as the fall colors creep in, or flurries of an early winter can suddenly appear, marking the season's change with a blanket of fresh snow. Being a tropical kind of guy, I am grateful to enjoy our final days at the Kiana camp in T-shirt weather, and surprised to learn that the caribou migration has begun.
Of the several large caribou herds that amass during the summer on the North Slope, it is the Western Arctic Herd which, half a million strong, will pass through the Baird Mountains along the Omar and Squirrel River valleys on their annual migration south.
I decided to make a final hike down the Kobuk to see if the fox family might still be around. As I patiently sat amongst the familiar blueberry and salmonberry patches, munching a sack lunch, nothing stirred around the fox's den. They must have moved on, the pups well-grown. The yeagers too, which buzzed my head on the last visit, had gone without leaving a trace. New birds, sandhill cranes, circled once overhead as they too headed south. Though it was a pleasant seventy-six degrees Fahrenheit along the Kobuk, it was time to join them and head south ourselves.