SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

Being Caribou: 350 Miles On Skis

We follow a giant, endangered caribou herd from the Yukon to Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Part 2.

by: Karsten Heuer

PAGE 1 2

Caribou
(Photo: Karsten Heuer/Leanne Allison)

Bear tracks lead the way.

The adventuresome team left the herd's Yukon wintering grounds on skis at the beginning of April and since become living testaments of a caribou's harsh life. Both lost ten pounds and nurse swollen feet from frostbite.

"I've been on long trips before," said Heuer who, in 1998-99, hiked 2,200 miles along the Rocky Mountains from Yellowstone to the Yukon, "but never across such rugged country, through such extreme weather, at such a sustained pace. And to think that the majority of the animals we've been following are pregnant!"

Some of the pregnant cows of the 123,000-member herd have already started giving birth, and the majority are expected to drop their calves in the coming week, most of them in the strip of unprotected land on the coastal plain. According to scientists, the area is critical. Not only does it provide the caribou with a temporary haven from predators and insects, and a good supply of nutrient-rich forage for the lactating cows, but it also comprises some of the best bird nesting habitat on the continent. Its also home for the densest concentrations of land dens for polar bears using the Beaufort Sea.

"This could be one of the last years this caribou herd doesn't encounter the pipelines, vehicles, roads, airstrips, and toxic spills that have affected caribou and other wildlife elsewhere in the Western Arctic," said Heuer. "That's pretty sobering given the 27,000-year history of this migration and the fact that 95 percent of the rest of the Alaskan Arctic coast is already slated for oil and gas exploration and development. A six-month supply of oil hardly justifies what stands to be lost here. Given what we've seen so far, it just doesn't measure up."

"I'm not sure the upcoming bug season or the return trip to the herd's wintering grounds will be any easier," said Allison, referring to their plans to continue traveling with the caribou for the next three and a half months. "But whatever the challenges, I'm confident we'll get through them so long as the caribou are leading the way. They are great teachers in patience and perseverance. Their spirit is so uplifting."

Watch for more updates on backpacker.com/caribou.

For more information go to: beingcaribou.com.


PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Ebola breakout
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: dayhiker9
The Political Arena
Israel/Gaza Conflict
Posted On: Jul 28, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions