Arctic rivers, winter highways of the North

As winter descends on the Arctic the rivers that thread through this landscape freeze solid and smooth, flat surfaces perfect for dog sledding. The rivers of the North are well established as the traditional highways of winter. Travelling along these natural trails it is a certainty that people will have passed by before you for centuries even millennia, Inupiat families following the early spring migration of the caribou, or perhaps more recently a prospector looking for gold or other mineral wealth. Today the skills necessary to travel this way have diminished and you will see no trace of anybody else having passed by.

The rivers twist all over the place adding miles to a journey, but it’s a fair trade considering the surrounding hills muffled in deep snow.

There is however a particular spectacle/hazard to look out for.

At first you may see fog ahead, steam rising into the air from the river, open water!

The North Slope is pockmarked with thermal springs that well up under the river ice and burst through creating “overflow”. This particular section of river was very lively, with lots of gurgling, cracking and popping and water pouring over the ice and disappearing down a sink hole.

If you are lucky you can skirt round and continue on your way, sometimes you have to turn around…

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