Final Touches: Kongakut River

Car TetrisThe trip is on. I departed PDX at 9.30pm in the dark and chased the sun down by flying north and arrived in Anchorage around midnight where, though it was overcast, it was still dusk out.

Nathaniel Wilder with Sune and Lindsay Tamm picked me up and we stayed up until 2.30am catching up on all the corners of the world we had been to since seeing each other last, fully aware that we had the next 18 days to do this on the river and that we should get some much needed sleep.

Sunday afternoon we started packing the car. Nathaniel was shooting a wedding that afternoon/evening and will fly up to meet us in Fairbanks while Lindsay, Sune and I drive his car up with all our gear. The drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks is beautiful. The overcast skies made way for soft puffy white clouds, intermittent rain showers with rainbows and bunches of sunshine streaming through crystal clear crisp air.

Today, Monday, we are getting out kits together for our flight to the Kongakut tomorrow morning with Wright Air. The chartered aircraft of choice is the Helio Courier. But since the Helio only holds 5 passengers we’ll be splitting the group in two drops. The first group of 3 (The Lewis’) will fly with as much gear as they can take in the Helio to the Kongakut while the 2nd group (4 of us) will take a Wright Air commercial flight (flight #330 departing Fairbanks at 9am) to Arctic Village. I’m not sure what aircraft the commercial flight is in, but we’ll hang in Arctic Village until the Helio comes back from the Kongakut and picks the rest of us up.

From then on, we’ll be on the river. Stay tuned to for a map that will be posted on 23 June that will provide daily updates of our position on the trip as we float down the Kongakut and go on various exploratory hikes over the 15-day trip.

Colorful Drive

About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.


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