Time to Head South

Kiana Travel Blog

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Ravens search the woods for movement.

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.

Sandhill Cranes migrate south.
The Alaska DNR (Department of Natural Resources) informed us that they are on the move, headed our way. Only a few of the animals are fitted with transmitting collars so the DNR's reported movement could possibly be only a few stragglers and not necessarily the entire herd. Regardless, time is drawing near to retreat back to the Independence Creek camp which is about 120 miles to the south, on the Seward Peninsula. Crews are scrambling to evacuate both the Kiana and Omar camps. 


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.

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Ravens search the woods for moveme…
Ravens search the woods for movem…
Sandhill Cranes migrate south.
Sandhill Cranes migrate south.
August 19th in the arctic, in the …
August 19th in the arctic, in the…
photo by: rotorhead85