Head north for a 5 day dog sledding retreat based in the heart of Alaska's northernmost mountain range: the Brooks Range. The route to basecamp heads North up the remote and wild Dalton Highway, cuts through the rolling hills of the Yukon River Valley, and traverses wild ancient plains dotted with granite tors before approaching the striking silhouette of the majestic Brooks Range. Our destination is an off grid wilderness retreat center situated 63 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the small gold rush community of Wiseman. Here we will base our next few days of dog sledding and aurora viewing. Experience the magic of the Arctic in April, with long days, lingering sunsets, snow capped mountains, migrating caribou, and shimmering spring aurora.
Is this trip right for me?
Are you an adventurous soul? A dog lover? Do you love winter? Are you desirous of a closer connection to nature? Answer yes to any one of these? Then yes! This trip might be perfect for you!
No previous mushing experience is required. We will teach you everything you need to know to feel comfortable and equipped for your days on the trail.
That being said, dog mushing is a physical activity...from harnessing dogs to standing on the sled all day, you will need to be reasonably able-bodied in order to fully enjoy this experience. This five day trip goes deep into the heart of a wilderness area. Sections of trail are steep and technical. If you are hesitant about your ability to manage a dog team, please contact Lisbet & she will guide you through a series of questions designed to evaluate your abilities. You are probably better suited for this than you think.
You do not need previous experience with cold weather climates, but you will need to equip yourself with a proper set of winter base layers in order to ensure your comfort and safety. Even though it is spring in Alaska, weather and temperatures can still be harsh and unpredictable. We will provide you with a list of suggested & required gear -- your comfort is our utmost concern !
When is the best time to see the aurora?
Although the northern lights can be viewed in Fairbanks from August through April even at Kp0,* your chance of seeing the lights increases when the skies are clear. March, followed by April & February, are historically the months with the lowest precipitation in Fairbanks, meaning clear skies and good chances of spotting the aurora. The northern lights are caused by charged particles from the sun (solar wind) hitting the Earth’s magnetosphere. Around the equinoxes (fall and spring), the Earth’s axis is side-on to the sun, which happens to sync with the magnetic field of the solar wind. That means that during the equinoxes in March and September, charged particles are more likely to be accelerated down the field lines of Earth’s magnetosphere, causing the northern lights.**
*Kp is used to measure aurora strength.
**There is no guarantee we will see the northern lights. While regularly observed in Fairbanks, they are still an unpredictable natural phenomenon highly dependent on
weather and cloud cover. We can guarantee: good food, tasty snacks, amazing scenery, comfortable cabin accommodations and lots of time with our amazing huskies!
will i drive my own dog team?
Yes. You will drive and be responsible for your own small team of 4-6 dogs. On orientation day, your professional dog sledding guide will introduce you to your team, and give you a lesson on how to drive the sled. You will learn how to harness a sled dog, and how to slow and stop your team. Your guide drives their own team just ahead of you, keeping an eye on the dogs, the trail, and your progress.
Accomodations at Arctic Hive
Arctic Hive offers three beautiful hand built cabins with mountain views in every direction, and plenty of windows to see the wild landscape and the northern lights! Each cabin will be home to two retreat attendees in twin or double beds (depending on the cabin). All cabins are off-grid, heated with Swedish Nordic oil stoves that keep the space warm and cozy. Cabins have a limited amount of solar/battery-power, for lights and for charging small devices. There is no cell phone reception from the cabins (or in all of Wiseman!) — although we do have access to service for emergencies, and for those who may need to check in with home once and a while. Depending on the amount of sunlight, you'll have the opportunity to charge small devices via generator or solar power (such as your phone if you use it as a camera). It wouldn't be wise to bring larger electronics like computers, as they draw so much power from the small battery banks.
The cabins are located just a short walk up the hill from the Igloo, which is our central lodge and gathering space for meals and community. The Igloo has a large glass ceiling for taking in the mighty views and northern lights. Facilities include a composting outhouse that's cleaned and attended to daily — along with a few designated "facili-trees" in the woods. If you're inexperienced with either of these methods, our team will assure you're up to speed upon arrival!
The food will be mostly plant-based, with options of egg and cheese — and with all the people that have come through camp, the food has been a favorite part. If you have specific questions, please ask!
Mornings are more of a continental breakfast buffet, come as you please. Lunches (or brunch some days) are varied depending on the day. Dinner is family-style, where we all sit down together. We will usually have a bonfire/time around the woodfire in the evening, with an option to do games and/or crafts in the igloo. We will have snacks available for you in the afternoon and evening for dessert. Like all things, this depends on the weather LOL.
Although we don't serve beer and wine, please know that if you want a little something to sip during the evenings, don't be afraid to grab yourself what you need before the drive north — the van will make a stop at Fred Meyer! You can keep it in the cooler outside your cabin (and if it gets too cold, you can bring it in the cabins... it's a fun game, practicing with your "Arctic Refrigerator"!).
We will have dairy free milks (almond, oat, coconut), and real butter and vegan butter. If you require cow's milk for any reason, best to pick it up for yourself. I will also make sure there is always a gluten free option. If you haven't told me you require gluten free, please do so ASAP.
DAY 1: BASECAMP BOUND
We will pick you up first thing in the morning to begin our journey north. Our destination for the day is Wisemen, a charming little Gold Rush town in the heart of the Brooks Range, 7-9 hours away. Our first stop will be for breakfast at Mocha Dan's: our favorite coffee drive through stand. Just outside Fairbanks we'll stop at Hilltop Gas Station to fuel up the truck and pick up some slices of their famous pie for the road. Leaving Hilltop, we will travel through the beautiful rolling hills of Interior Alaska to the Yukon River. After crossing the mighty Yukon, the terrain alternates between wide open tundra, sometimes dotted with towering granite monoliths called tors, and thickly forested river valleys. We will stop at the Arctic Circle and stretch our legs. Soon after crossing the Arctic Circle into the Land of the Midnight Sun, we will see our first striking views of the Brooks Range. Depending on road conditions, we may be able to take the time to stop at additional interesting waypoints along the route like the Yukon River Camp. Once we reach Wiseman, we will unload our bags and trek to our accommodations for the week: an off grid wilderness retreat set in the hillside above Wiseman. After we get settled in our cabins we will meet together in the main Igloo Lodge for a family-style dinner and a group yoga stretching session led by our host Mollie.
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
- Accommodations: Shared cabin accommodations (2 people per cabin)
- Milage: 275 miles.
DAY 2-4: DOG SLEDDING IN THE ALASKAN ARCTIC
After (optional) morning yoga and breakfast, we will go over gear and then head outside for our first mushing lesson. Meet your dog team and learn how to harness and hook up the dogs. After a brief orientation we will take off for a day trip along one of the historic mountain or river trails that surround Wiseman. The next few days are devoted solely to dog sledding. We will explore the tundra and creek valleys surrounding our camp. We will play in the shadows of the mountains, and search for dropped caribou antlers. Where we shall go depends on the weather, snow conditions, and our will! If we are lucky, the sun will shine bright late into the evening, inviting long lunches with warm afternoon naps on soft tundra peaks. During April, the Central Arctic Caribou Herd is heading from the mountains to their calving grounds near the Arctic Coast. Keep an eye out for migrating caribou herds on the horizon, and the large predators that may follow them (bear, wolf). Each night we will gather together in the main Igloo for a family style dinner.
- Meals: Breakfast at lodge, Picnics on trail, Dinner at the Lodge.
- Mileage: 10-30 miles a day.
DAY 5: THE HAUL ROAD
We will get up early for yoga & breakfast before loading our bags and beginning the journey south. We will drive back to Fairbanks, stopping at new waysides as time & conditions allow. We will celebrate our return to town with dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants.
- Meals: Breakfast at Camp, Lunch at Yukon River Camp or Coldfoot, Dinner together in Fairbanks.
- Accommodations: You will need to find your own accommodations for this night.
- Mileage: 275 miles by car.
Wiseman, AK, USA
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