Run with the Caribou


Spring caribouIsuma Guideworks invites you to join us on this unique opportunity to actively experience the awesome spectacle of caribou as they move toward their winter range.

This amazing experience takes place in Alaska’s ultimate wilderness – the Brooks Range. Facing north, the land undulates toward the Arctic Ocean while mountains of the Brooks Range tower in the distance. Your eye rolls over the treeless landscape to the horizon, confusing your illusory sense of distance.

From our base camp, caribou will be moving past as they follow their eons old urge to travel. We will see entire bands of caribou, and if we are lucky, great milling herds, as they move south to their wintering grounds. Sightings of wolves, moose, fox, or barren-ground grizzlies are not uncommon.

Caribou watchingAbove the Arctic Circle, fall arrives early on the North Slope and the preparation for winter begins for the Alaskan wildlife. The colors of the landscape have changed and frost could appear some mornings. In addition to abundant wildlife, the fall season in Alaska, the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, marks the onset of darkness and we hope to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). The temperatures can vary from the low 30’s to the high 60’s and rain or snow is always possible this time of the year. With this in mind, our stationary camp will be comfortable with a canvas hut for cooking and eating in.

Fall caribou migration

In addition to group instruction there will be exercises and ritual to deepen your connection to all our relations–the land and its inhabitants. We will ask ourselves “Who am I removed from my societal context and identity?” Anyone can participate on this trip. Prior wilderness or camping experience is not necessary. An adventurous spirit, willing mind, and open heart are all we ask.

Almost 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle, I had spent the day away from camp, hiking solo in active prayer, calling my spirit back. I felt complete as I lay on the tundra in the lee of a spruce during a brief downpour–the moist scents of spruce pitch, cranberry, labrador tea, moss, kinnikinnik and blueberry mingling into the unique fragrance of home as a boreal owl spoke to me. In camp, starting a fire for dinner, talk turned to the expression of totems. A lone wolf materialized in the brush of the high riverbank 50 yards away, made eye contact, then disappeared to circle down to the gravel bar where we were encamped, stopping exactly below its observation point on the riverbank to stare at us. The wolf watched us watch him watch us. Nine days later, after a long day of intentional walking with backpacks, we were again visited by the wolf.