The route I chose to access Mt. Igikpak during my recent trip to the Gates of the Arctic followed Tupik Creek, and then on through Angiaak Pass. After landing in the bush plane in the early afternoon along the Noatak River, I forded the river and hiked about 4 miles to a nice camp spot that overlooked the river.
On the next morning, I started the trek along Tupik Creek. In the first 30 minutes I spotted a grizzly bear feeding on the tundra blueberreis a few hundred yards ahead of me. I regrouped and crossed the river to give some space between us. The river was flowing at a pretty good pace, but it was easily fordable. I changed into a pair of lightweight crocks to cross the river. While it took a little more time, the silver lining was the opportunity to make a few photos from the low-water perspective while crossing, which I would likely not have done if the bear did not prompt me to cross. The light was dramatic, as rain clouds mixed with a little sun shining through, swirled around me.
Further up the river, I came across this patch of thick green moss growing along the gray rocks of the river bed. It was an odd splash of color in an otherwise neutrally toned landscape. Sometimes, the colors and discoveries on these hikes are amazing. While vegetation is sparse in the Arctic landscape, lichens, moss, and minerals hold some pretty amazing colors. It rained on and off for most of the day. I keep my camera clipped into the shoulder straps of my backpack, so it is always available for a quick shot. When it rains, I cover it with a Sea-to-Summit dray bag, which is light weight and simple to take on or off.