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Second part of North Slope trip, Alaska


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Here is the next part of my north slope trip pictures. After camping for two days I headed west and stopped on the Canning River to fish for char. The gravel bar I landed on had pieces of fossil coral and the river cut bank was of the same Kingak Shale with some large concretions. The view out of the plane shows the Ignek valley, east and west. After fishing headed west and stopped at the Kavic Camp for fuel, bring cash as avgas is $12 a gallon and glad to get it!

 Saddelrochit Mountains                                                                                                                                               

 

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Looking west Ignek River valley

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Looking east Ignek River valley with Ignek Mesa behind the rear lift strut.                                             

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Coral present in Canning River bed. 

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Pingo- a feature of permafrost, ice lens buildup of up to 300/400 foot elevation. 

Polygons- ice lens in the soil giving the polygon shapes seen next to the pingo.

No place to land here or would have checked it out.

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Reached the Colville River in the evening and flew all the way to the Killik River where the Colville takes a sharp bend. 

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Killik River

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Colville River at the Killik River bend.

Upon returning home read that there are known dinosaur track ways there and would have like to hike over and see them.

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Camp at Killik River

 

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( the next day) Landed for lunch and was greeted by several bunches of caribou

 

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Kobuk and caribou bone

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Lignite present on most of the gravel bars.

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Colville River bar where fossils were seen.

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                                                                                                                   Bone or antler fragment.

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BellamyBlake

Absolutely gorgeous! Serious question - how big of a concern are brown bears down there?

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Gastropods were present but most were broken by the river action.

 

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Dinosaur bone and pelecypods

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Site where the fossilized bones were seen.

Most were on the upstream edge of the gravel bars on the side of the river against the cut banks where the river was eroding the exposure. 

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Multiple fossilized bone fragments present. The area is known for dinosaur bone bed deposits.

 

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ALL FOSSILS WERE LEFT AT THE SITE!

 

On my way home got some inaccurate weather forecast information on the mountain pass so went to Prodhoe for fuel.

I was on the ground at most for 20 minutes to fill up and the weather went IFR which means I was grounded until the visibility improved to the minimum permitted to fly in the controlled airspace. Two nights sleeping in my Piper SuperCub was better than taking a chance with contacting people in a hotel situation. 

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Kobuk snuggled in the Cub baggage with myself laid out in the rear seat.

When it cleared a day and a half later, 8.6 hours in the air to return home.

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24 minutes ago, BellamyBlake said:

Absolutely gorgeous! Serious question - how big of a concern are brown bears down there?

I always am prepared for encountering the bears and like buckling your seat belt when in a car just in case will have pepper spray and a firearm for defense. On this trip I was more concerned about polar bears being so close to the Arctic Ocean and they are very aggressive and would take my dog given any chance at all. Farther south in Alaska not too likely to have a problem unless you get between a sow and her cubs or between a bears food cache (kill) and the bear guarding it.  

Thank you for the comment on Alaska's beauty and I could not agree more!

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Awesome trip report! Nice finds and beautiful scenery.

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Quite the country up there. Not too many members have a plane from which they can take pics of their (non)hunting grounds to show us! Is that a national park or preserve of some kind up there, that prevents you from collecting fossils? I would think that should also prevent you from hunting live game too or is that a separate matter?

I've always wondered about what kinds of fossil deposits might be waiting to be found in all that relatively unpopulated/unexplored territory in the North, including the Canadian Arctic/Subarctic. Then again maybe it's fairly well-explored by now, but not overly collected because of the remoteness.

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Thanks again for this report. I suppose you must plan these sort of trips quite meticulously. Do you study the topographic maps looking for landing places beforehand, or do you take your chances there?

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Your photos remind me of my short time up in Nunavut when I was in university.  I spent one week in the Truelove Lowlands of Devon Island, and it was as lush and beautifully remote as the area you were exploring in Alaska.  Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories. :)

 

And congrats on finding some fossils, too! :Smiling:

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Very, very beautiful. 

Nice finds, too. 

Thanks for sharing. :)

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7 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

Quite the country up there. Not too many members have a plane from which they can take pics of their (non)hunting grounds to show us! Is that a national park or preserve of some kind up there, that prevents you from collecting fossils? I would think that should also prevent you from hunting live game too or is that a separate matter?

I've always wondered about what kinds of fossil deposits might be waiting to be found in all that relatively unpopulated/unexplored territory in the North, including the Canadian Arctic/Subarctic. Then again maybe it's fairly well-explored by now, but not overly collected because of the remoteness.

The eastern part of the trip was in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR and the western part on the Colville River north shore is Naval Petroleum Reserve, Number 4,"Dino Bar". These are federally owned lands and hunting is allowed but no collecting without a scientific permit which are strictly controlled. The geology is well worked out from oil exploration but not well exposed and very remote so access does protect it. I saw two hunting camps in ANWR and was contacted by both. In the Hulahula River landed to transfer fuel into my wing tanks and the guide sent one of his assistants out to see who I was. The second contact was not pleasant at all, while looking for a place to land on the Canning River to fish another guide flew directly at me close range passing behind me, read near miss midair collision close in an aggressive manner which they are know to do to the residents that have the means to get into remote Alaska. I immediately landed shook up and will make my displeasure known to the authorities when I confirm who it was. The bears usually are not a problem, the guides I stay away from as they defiantly are more dangerous.

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7 hours ago, Ludwigia said:

Thanks again for this report. I suppose you must plan these sort of trips quite meticulously. Do you study the topographic maps looking for landing places beforehand, or do you take your chances there?

This was my third trip to the north slope sheep hunting with the first time being 32 years ago in the same airplane when it belonged to my future father-in-law. On these trips I read the hunting regulations carefully and more recently study land ownership maps and stay on public property as there are no signs out there. I did not plan on going all the way north on this trip but when I arrived in the 40 Mile River country to caribou hunt the herd was not there yet and was dismayed to see how few sheep had survived last winter so headed north to the same valley I hunted successfully 32 years ago with my wife.  I was also very dismayed up north as on the trip years ago saw 300 sheep in the Hulahula River valley while there, this trip I saw only 3 as I passed through. I have used Google Earth to look at the topography in areas I have not been to before and can measure possible landing areas with the program to give me options to camp on gravel bars or other flat spots. Once on the ground hiking around will find places to land as much safer to walk a potential landing zone first marking hazards than just bombing in and miss a hole or soft spot. On planning I knew where to get fuel, was prepared for all weather possibilities, bear fence, had food for 10 days, a satellite phone and Garmin satellite texting device to get weather and check in so people knew where to look for me if no daily report and 5,000 of flight time in Alaska in little planes to draw on for experience. I enjoy reading others fossil hunting reports so wanted to add to the fun with mine. 

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I figured that you were well prepared, but just wanted to hear a few more details :) Thanks!

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28 minutes ago, AK hiker said:

... I enjoy reading others fossil hunting reports so wanted to add to the fun with mine. 

Thank you for that.  Your reports are indeed a lot of fun!! :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

 

Don

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Ditto that!

 

Many of us in the lower 48 or other places around the globe are finding ourselves cooped-up and spending way too much time reading the forum. :P It is spectacular to see areas beyond what we might normally be able to experience. Looks like it was a fun adventure. Thanks for all the photos illustrating it.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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6 hours ago, AK hiker said:

The eastern part of the trip was in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR and the western part on the Colville River north shore is Naval Petroleum Reserve, Number 4,"Dino Bar". These are federally owned lands and hunting is allowed but no collecting without a scientific permit which are strictly controlled. The geology is well worked out from oil exploration but not well exposed and very remote so access does protect it. I saw two hunting camps in ANWR and was contacted by both. In the Hulahula River landed to transfer fuel into my wing tanks and the guide sent one of his assistants out to see who I was. The second contact was not pleasant at all, while looking for a place to land on the Canning River to fish another guide flew directly at me close range passing behind me, read near miss midair collision close in an aggressive manner which they are know to do to the residents that have the means to get into remote Alaska. I immediately landed shook up and will make my displeasure known to the authorities when I confirm who it was. The bears usually are not a problem, the guides I stay away from as they defiantly are more dangerous.

Wow, it's the Wild West up there, isn't it? Those guys have no authority to scare you off but they do it anyway because they can get away with it, or they think they can?

It makes no sense to me that you can hunt game but not fossils, esp. in a wildlife refuge which is meant specifically for wildlife, who cares about a few rocks? but dumber things have happened I guess.

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17 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

Wow, it's the Wild West up there, isn't it? Those guys have no authority to scare you off but they do it anyway because they can get away with it, or they think they can?

It makes no sense to me that you can hunt game but not fossils, esp. in a wildlife refuge which is meant specifically for wildlife, who cares about a few rocks? but dumber things have happened I guess.

I feel very fortunate that I can go to these areas and look at the interesting paleo deposits and associated fossils without a fence or being kept away from them altogether which is what I have seen in parks in the lower 48 states. I understand the need to protect the relatively rare vertebrate fossils and am considering volunteering to help some time with a scientific dig once retired as a way to learn more.  As far as the commercial hunting guides I could go on about that at length with 2 getting some zoo time from my turning states evidence on poaching but need a different thread for that. 

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So, curious minds want to know.  Did you catch a Char ? How large was it?  Does Kobuk like Char ? I think I know the answer to that last one..

Thanks for sharing.

I love the photos of your hunting areas.  Mine are not as expansive, but I love them also. Also remote from humans, mine are definitely easier to get to....

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7 hours ago, AK hiker said:

I feel very fortunate that I can go to these areas and look at the interesting paleo deposits and associated fossils without a fence or being kept away from them altogether which is what I have seen in parks in the lower 48 states. I understand the need to protect the relatively rare vertebrate fossils and am considering volunteering to help some time with a scientific dig once retired as a way to learn more.  As far as the commercial hunting guides I could go on about that at length with 2 getting some zoo time from my turning states evidence on poaching but need a different thread for that. 

Sure, better than no access, but they shouldn't bar public access to such a large area as that anyway. Who is barring access to parks - are you just referring to covid restrictions?

In the case of vertebrates and in specific areas where scientists are doing research, I also can understand restrictions, but an arbitrary blanket ban on collecting over as wide an area as that seems a little drastic to me.

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25 minutes ago, Wrangellian said:

Sure, better than no access, but they shouldn't bar public access to such a large area as that anyway. Who is barring access to parks - are you just referring to covid restrictions?

In the case of vertebrates and in specific areas where scientists are doing research, I also can understand restrictions, but an arbitrary blanket ban on collecting over as wide an area as that seems a little drastic to me.

https://www.alaskacenters.gov/explore/things-to-do/fossils-artifacts

It is very restrictive with no collecting allowed on ALL refuges and parks either state or national and Alaska has a tremendous amount of public lands that are locked up in these restrictive designations. As you have seen by some of my other posts not all is out of bounds for picking up small amounts of inveterate fossils with no commercial use allowed. (not even trading) ;(

My reference to fences and no access is in parks where you must stay on designated trials like in Oregon's, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument where the leaf deposit area is annotated on a sign but fenced off. Or in Nevada's Red Rock Canyon state park where the petrified wood log has a fence around it so no getting close to inspect or photograph it.

 

Must stay on the trail or the park rangers will issue a violation. Photo of trail in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

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Alaska Peninsula with 5 miles of beach with petrified wood everywhere you look. It is a marine refuge so guess what is not allowed...even though it is directly adjacent to private property. I just follow what the regulations are and live with it besides pictures are easier to bring home. :)

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2 hours ago, Shellseeker said:

So, curious minds want to know.  Did you catch a Char ? How large was it?  Does Kobuk like Char ? I think I know the answer to that last one..

Thanks for sharing.

I love the photos of your hunting areas.  Mine are not as expansive, but I love them also. Also remote from humans, mine are definitely easier to get to....

 

Shellseeker;

Your hunting area picture looks very tranquil and I'm assuming it takes a boat to access? I'm cheating by putting this picture up as the fish were probably farther upstream from where I was fishing in the Canning and Killik Rivers, getting ready to spawn, I did give it a try but did not catch any this trip. The picture is from a previous trip west of Kotzebue on the Wulik River same time of the year and shows what a nice Dolly is like. I had seen them from the air on my last trip to the Brooks Range but had no fishing rod along.

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Bob

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7 minutes ago, FossilDAWG said:

Nice fish! :drool:

 Ditto !!! Look at that smile.... feeling good !!!!!!

13 minutes ago, AK hiker said:

I'm assuming it takes a boat to access?

Yes, 14 foot Kestrel SoT.  Find an access point and head upstream 2, 3, 4 miles

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1 hour ago, AK hiker said:

https://www.alaskacenters.gov/explore/things-to-do/fossils-artifacts

It is very restrictive with no collecting allowed on ALL refuges and parks either state or national and Alaska has a tremendous amount of public lands that are locked up in these restrictive designations. As you have seen by some of my other posts not all is out of bounds for picking up small amounts of inveterate fossils with no commercial use allowed. (not even trading) ;(

My reference to fences and no access is in parks where you must stay on designated trials like in Oregon's, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument where the leaf deposit area is annotated on a sign but fenced off. Or in Nevada's Red Rock Canyon state park where the petrified wood log has a fence around it so no getting close to inspect or photograph it.

 

Must stay on the trail or the park rangers will issue a violation. Photo of trail in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

 

Alaska Peninsula with 5 miles of beach with petrified wood everywhere you look. It is a marine refuge so guess what is not allowed...even though it is directly adjacent to private property. I just follow what the regulations are and live with it besides pictures are easier to bring home. :)

Right. I'm only griping because it seems like soon the whole world outside our doorsteps will soon be "look but don't touch". It's getting to be the same all over. Like your state, much of my own back country here on V.I. is now off limits. It used to be accessible to people like the rockhound clubs who could go up and collect to their hearts' content, even if it required getting a key from the logging company for their yellow gates - it was cheap or free(?) - but too many bad apples have damaged equipment and such, and now that key costs hundred of dollars, if they even grant the permission at all. Part of it, I think, is that there are getting to be too many people in many areas, so more pressure on everything from fossils to fish/game to firewood. I would have thought Alaska was still far from being one of those areas though, but evidently there they are following the modus operandi of other states in the US.

We are told frequently that we amateur collectors fill an important role in collecting fossils for study, as there just aren't enough pro's or enough money/time for them to do the collecting, but if we can't collect those fossils they lay out there disintegrating in the weather. If we can only report our finds, without touching them, the fossils have to be pretty intriguing (eg. vertebrates or Burgess-type fossils) for the experts to go out there and look.

Anyway, that's my venting for the day/week. For the record, I'm not advocating breaking the rules, but I should be able to complain about them.

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