The sky is a clear blue, an icy temperature prevails with an over abundance of immaculate white snow. The Atigun pass gives us an impression of the purity that we have come across from the Brooks Range right up to the frozen Arctic Ocean. It gives one a feeling of freedom to be able to behold this pure white landscape in all its untouched glory. Our footprints cannot be seen here. Our tracks are covered here, and stay hidden for ever. Here nature is the boss and she flaunts this in super abundance.
We drive through the Atigun Canyon to the approaching narrowing flanks of the Brooks Range. The Range goes on to become the Slope Mountains. The Northern Slope region is a variety of low mountain chains and compressed high plateaus. The mountains, as well as the plateaus, slowly descend in a slope towards the Arctic Plains.
At the end of the day, we stop between the lower mountain chains. We use one of the larger parking areas as our base. The road is quite highly situated and the cold wind blows in all directions. The sun moves towards the horizon silhouetting between the sloping landscapes. This heart warming image is unbelievable and we quickly run outside to take a photo. The temperature is below zero, our heads, our fingers, our feet are getting colder by the minute, and our body is under cooled. Back to the camper to put on some more clothing and again we brave the cold. The sun is toying over the white plateaus and the colours are becoming warmer while the temperature decreases. Then the slopes form their own patterns and we are mesmerised in the story of the sun that, as a horseless knight, rides across the plateaus conquering the landscape with his orange/red coloured banner.
Without setting, the sun drifts further and further away. Skimming along the faint mountain tops the rays stay with us for a while. It is already midnight, I am overwhelmed and frozen at the same time and go back to the camper to crawl under three quilts to keep warm and enjoy the images of the sun skimming along the faint mountain tops. The wind is blowing softly, my breath steams up in the camper. With a cold nose, I say goodnight in the ice plateaus.
After the setting sun, the weather is good the next day, and it will almost stay so for the rest of the journey. At night the temperature in the camper is around zero degrees. Outside it is between -15 and -25° Celcius. The first thing we do when we get up is to put on the heater to warm up the camper. We change into our downy clothing and thermal trousers and I must say that from then on we are not cold anymore. You feel like a Michelin man but the warmth that we get from our thermal clothing compensates for that.
The landscape keeps surprising us with its virgin white like aura, the cloud formations and the continual intensity of the sun. We slowly descend towards the Arctic Plains. As well as the sun, there is also low hanging snow mist. Emanating from the Pool Regions, these mist fragments drift like glistening crystals across the land. They cut into your face, cover everything in sight and also cover the branches of the bare bushes with an over abundance of white confetti.
Prudhoe Bay, in the far north, is a sort of frozen Maas Plain. Thousands of pipes, machinery and every now and then a drilling rig takes over the land. With temperatures of 30° Celsius less than zero, thousands of people work continually day and night. America, just like all other countries, still needs a lot of oil.
Every day in our surroundings here we see a lot of Moose, Caribou, foxes and Musk Ox, and especially the Caribou Migration which will have to be recorded. The migration will be covered in the third part of this series.
Best wishes from Rika and Harry.