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Published: April 15th 2013
Day 2 - Travel to Coldfoot and Wiseman
Today the big day to start the tour and go to Coldfoot. We were suppose to report for flight @1:00, so lot of time to get up lazily, pack and leave. Again the hotel shuttle dropped us to the tour terminal. The flight was delayed by an hour. There was nothing much to do but sit around and wait at the small office. So we took short walks, just hanging out, taking photos, getting to know rest of the group. There were 4 New Yorkers in our group, and another couple from somewhere, we did not hear much from them.
Finally our tiny plane arrived at around 3:00 and we started. The flight was kind of scary in that tiny plane. And it was very very cold. I did not realize that the plane is going to be cold. Our feet were just freezing over and we could not find the warmers. It was a difficult flight and I could not wait to reach Coldfoot. The landscape was very beautiful though. I wish we had more light to enjoy it. Still I saw some beautiful colours in
Coldfoot was a very welcoming place. For one, it was nice, warm and bright in the hotel. The cafe across the street was also good. The place was so much better than what I had imagined. Everyone there was so nice and welcoming. We signed up for the Aurora tour at night, the main reason we were here. After relaxing a little, we went to the cafe for food. It was another nice and cozy place. It is mainly a truckers stop. The veggie options for food were just omlete, toast and pancakes. I was hoping for some pasta. But we ended up ordering omlete. It was really good, such tasty food in middle of no where. No wonder some of the folks there came for one visit and then never left.
I think they mentioned that in Coldfoot, or few miles north of Coldfoot they don't get sun for about 66 days. I could totally relate to that, because even in Seattle we get months without sunshine 😊
Coldfoot has a population of about 11. And everyone works at the cafe and hotel, doing everything from guiding to cooking to housekeeping. We decided to
take the Aurora tour at night. They would drive us up to a place called Wiseman, population 8. I am not sure if any wise men lived there! Its a collection of private properties in middle of nowhere. People there practice living off the land, meaning they grow / hunt their own food, everything is local, though they are not native Alaskans.
The place they took us to for Aurora watching was a tiny cabin. Some guys supposedly spend 11 or so years in it, doing I don't know what. It was fully equipped with a stove, bed, medicine cabinet etc. The temperature inside was around 0F, much warmer than -35F outside. They also supplied hot cider, chocolate etc to keep warm. We were going in and out of the cabin, keeping a watch at northern sky. We did see some lights, as bands on green in the sky. Since this was one of the min years, it was not expected to be spectacular anyway. At around 2:00am we came back to the warmth of coldfoot hotel.
Day 3 - Brooks Mountain Range Safari
Today we decided to take the van tour into
Brooks Range, mostly because dog sledging was not available. They take you in a van into the depths of Brooks Range, over a high pass called Atigun pass, beyond last standing tree into real Arctic wilderness. I was a little apprehensive about the worth of this trip, as it was just a van tour in mountains, no hike, no adventure. Little did I know that it will be the best and most memorable thing I did on the trip. It set the bar of natural beauty really high for me, and I have travelled to some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Day 5 - Back to Seattle
Too soon it was time to go back to Seattle. I wished we had couple more days to enjoy the winter, but alas, that is all the time I had. When we got up in the morning, it was a foggy and cloudy day and the temperature was close to -40. That at least made me feel a little better, that ok, it is time to go back, we have had our great luck of clear cold crisp days.
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