On My Way to the Arctic Refuge

A guest post by Greg Scott, Evergreen, CO

As I plan for my fourth solo backpacking trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, both excitement and apprehension abound. I’ve never been to the Arctic in late August. The attractions include fall colors and the aurora borealis. The downside is cold, wet weather and hungry bears. I got scared and bought a minus 20-degree sleeping bag. I’m investigating how best to photograph the aurora.

In 58 days and over 400 miles on foot in the Arctic Refuge, I’ve come to expect certain things: clean air and water, awesome silence, a chance to view the elusive wolf, muskox and wolverine, curious grizzly bears, and tens of thousands of caribou. There is, of course, the unexpected. It is a place to renew the senses and ground the soul – true wilderness with an unaltered ecosystem. A globally rare environment.

All that would change forever if energy exploration were ever allowed. I truly don’t think most government officials realize how very special the Arctic Refuge is, or how fragile. Some would sell the soul of America’s premier wilderness ecosystem for 229 days of SUV fodder, although we have made virtually no effort to reduce our voracious energy appetite. In reality, the Arctic Refuge doesn’t belong to the people; it belongs to the wildlife that eke out a meager life in that harsh, pristine environment. Hopefully, people of wisdom will find a way to preserve it; not for people, but for itself. If it weren’t for people, we wouldn’t need to save it from them.

Note: Look for future blogs from Greg after he returns from the Arctic Refuge in later in September.