I need to commit. But it doesn’t feel right. The water is deeper, and the current is faster than it was when we crossed the river 12 hours earlier. I retreat backwards and shake my head at my partner Shana. Our initial crossing was sporty to say the least. Although the sun being out and our fresh mentality at the start of our day, coupled with a game plan that included changing from boots and underwear into fresh pants and hiking boots worked well enough.
I knew skiing anything in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was going to take effort. Not just any effort. The kind of effort that requires a certain skill set born from an acknowledgment that the journey is more of the reward than the actual objective. I had made several previous trips to the Arctic Refuge before, and each time I dreamt about skiing in the heart of the mighty Brooks Range. Home to some of the wildest land in the world, the mountains here is the true definition of wilderness as understood by Western culture.
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