Tundra Trek
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Photo: Gerrit Vyn
Author: Gerrit Vyn

Energized and excited by the activity around me, I drove on and stopped to explore an icy stream. There I watched a pair of Harlequin Ducks swim against the cold current of the thawing landscape and a pair of Wandering Tattlers probing quietly along the rocky shore. A bit higher, near the pass, several Northern Wheatears and American Pipits sang overhead in flight, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, Snow Buntings, and Baird’s Sandpipers shared a recently thawed hillside with two bachelor Dall sheep chewing their cud.

After crossing Atigun Pass, the road descends through a long glacial valley to the North Slope. The gently rolling landscape is carpeted in dry tussock tundra, interspersed with small lakes, streams, and wide braided rivers. Smith’s Longspurs run among the…

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