Familiar Arctic Settings
Kiana Travel Blog› entry 9 of 38 › view all entries
After fueling and adding a bit of engine oil, we continued toward the northwest. Weather cooperated as we steered a similar flight-path that Joe and I had followed last year [see Alaska 2007 blog 'Into the Arctic']. Though our flying machine was equipped with GPS, our fingers traced progress on our aviation Sectional chart.
After crossing the Koyokuk River and the countless tree-covered valleys of the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge, Gray and I reached the low-lying Kotzebue Basin. Unlike last year, snow and ice had already melted to expose thousands of ponds and waterways on the brown flat tundra. We angled across the Arctic Circle east of Selawik and headed toward Kiana.
Familiar sights came into view from last summer: the mighty Squirrel flowing toward us out of the distant Baird Mountains of the western Brooks Range, the tree-lined Kobuk River, and finally the village of Kiana where those rivers met. I pointed out to Gray the location of nearby Kiana Camp.
It was a shock to see Kiana Camp largely dismantled. Only the large white kitchen tent and two of the eight sleeper tents remained. Heaps of neatly stacked lumber, appliances, and equipment waited transport out to the satellite camp that had been built last summer on the Omar River, thirty miles to the north. Immediately after unloading the helicopter, Gray began moving.