04-Mar-2012 -- The Arctic hamlet of Kotzebue represented a major halfway stopover and resupply point on our 1,500 mile snowmobile expedition from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks, Alaska. Our team of four departed Kotzebue late in the afternoon on March 3, 2012, and headed southwest, traversing the barren Baldwin Peninsula and making camp just shy of Eschscholtz Bay. On March 4 we crossed the sea ice and made landfall on the Seward Peninsula in the vicinity of Kiwalik Lagoon. Presented with clear skies, good light, gently rolling treeless terrain, we decided to detour slightly from our intended route to the nearby unvisited confluence of 66N/162W.
Our search for the point took us several miles west over frozen tundra hills, passing the dilapidated remains of a long-abandoned reindeer herding corral along the way. The actual confluence point was located on the margins of a shallow east-west swale. A temperature of minus 28F accompanied by a light breeze allowed only limited exposure of GPS and digital camera equipment, as well as the fingers to work them, but with the confluence finally pinpointed we took an abbreviated set of site photos and proceeded on our way.
We camped that night on the ice of the Kiwalik River in the abandoned mining settlement of Candle. An unexpected blizzard the following day restricted travel and buried tents and machines in drifted snow causing us to lose most of a day digging out. Much of the remainder of our route south and east utilized the well-traveled Iditarod trail and we had timed our trip to be able to view and visit with dog mushers participating in the 2012 running of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. So in addition to enjoying a marked trail and the hospitality of local people in every community we passed through, we were treated to front row seats and a few trail-side conversations with many of the elite dog mushers participating in this grueling 1,000 mile race. Our route took us through the communities of Buckland, Koyuk, Shaktoolik, Unalakleet, Kaltag, Nulato, Galena, Ruby, Tanana, Manley Hot Springs, and Nenana, before arriving home in Fairbanks on March 14, 2012.