Brooks Range II
(21-24 June 2002)

This was the 2nd year I went along as a driver on the Research Experience for Undergraduates trip (see Brooks Range I) and spent the summer solstice above the Arctic Circle, in the true 'land of the midnite Sun'. I've gone up a couple times by myself as well, but didn't feel the need to take any MORE pictures. Anyways here are a bunch of pictures from that trip:

Finger Rock, 2002. Finger Rock is one of a large number of 'tors', which are jagged rocks that stick up because they have resisted the erosional processes that have reduced the rest of the area.

Several of the REU students up on a tor. All the rocks in the area have been fractured and broken up into piles of boulders by eons of water freeze/thaw action.

Me (left) and a couple of the students on another pile of rocks.

Here's a panorama that shows how the area looks (click image for large view).

There are many of these crosses along the haul road, each one the site of a bad crash. This one sits right in front of the Finger Rock pulloff.

This is where we camp the first night on these trips, right at the Arctic Circle. The next day (June 22)
we head up the Koyukuk River valley and cross the Brooks Range via Atigun Pass.

The view back to the south from the top of Atigun Pass. Avalanche zone warning signs (right) mark where the road is.

 Looking back south toward Atigun Pass. South of the mountains there is still arctic forest; on this side it's just tundra. Next stop, Galbraith Lake at the northern edge of the mountains.

23 June started out like this, but at about 5am some kind of storm came in suddenly from the north and in less than 5 minutes the weather turned into this:

What you can't see in this picture is that a wicked north wind is blowing (from the right), driving ice and sleet before it. This was the day the REU students went for their hike up Atigun Gorge, poor kids. Having been up there last year, I instead decided to check out a strange ice dome on Galbraith Lake I had spotted the previous day.

This stream runs out of the hills to the NW and into the lake. The scoured look of this place is due to the fact that this creek is often a raging flood. That's why all the rocks are so round. When it floods its' water flows over top of the ice on the lake and so adds new layers of ice . . . .

. . .which is why the delta fan where it runs into the lake is thick in ice, deep into summertime.

Here's a view from on top of the ice. The ice dome I am making for is out of the view to the right.

Here's what's left of the dome; I've drawn in it's approximate original contour. It had collapsed since I spotted it the previous day. It had been about 3 m (10') high and 10 m (33') across. I do not know what formed it.

I got up close to it and took these pictures of the collapsed inside. The rest of the ice looks pretty rickety too. I think the blue color comes partly from copper minerals in the water and ice. Looks like a giant gin-n-tonic.

Boy that water looks cold!! It's only about chest-deep on me, but I still wouldn't want to go
in for a swim with all those blocks of ice! Time to go back and light a fire to warm up the REU kids . . .

This is a panorama taken after midnite on the nite of 23-24 June, when the storm was clearing out. The glacial end moraine is visible as the low ridge at far left and Atigun gorge is at far right.  (Click on the image for a full size picture.)

This little arctic ground squirrel volunteered to help us clean up the ground under our
cooking tent as we were tearing down our camp to head back to Fairbanks.

Driving back over the Yukon River bridge; 2 hours to home. Can't . . . keep . . .eyes . . . open . . .