Adventures in the Northern Wilderness
The subarctic regions of Alaska and Northern Canada offer some of the most stunning and untouched wilderness in North America. It's no surprise that explorers, hunters, and nature-lovers of all types come from all over to experience it. Summer is prime time for a northern wilderness adventure— during the colder months, the climate is unfavorable for all but the hardiest of tourists. If you're planning to visit the region someday, here are some things to look forward to.
Incredible Forests and Wetlands
Both Alaska and Northern Canada are home to the unique boreal forests, also called taiga, that circle the subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. About one third of the world's taiga is in Alaska and Canada, with the majority being located in Russia and the Scandinavian countries. Boreal forests are thick with spruce and other conifer trees, and also have areas of open plains and wetlands. In fact, the Canadian boreal forest region is home to the largest wetland ecosystem in the world, which serves as a habitat for an almost uncountable number of birds.
Unique Tundra Landscape
For those who venture even farther north, the stark beauty of the tundra is not something easily forgotten. Moss and lichen cling to rocky, spongy ground that spends most of the year frozen solid. No trees can grow, but the native foliage results in an explosion of color that makes the land look like it came from another universe. The tundra climate is inhospitable and resistant to human development, but very susceptible to damage from global warming. Unlike the boreal forest, tundra is home to very few species, although you may see musk oxen, Arctic hares and foxes, and snowy owls.
Assuming you're not traveling far enough north to put you past the Arctic Circle where the sun never sets all summer long, you're in for a spectacular nighttime light show. Imagine camping under the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights— a wild, fantastic aerial display caused by the Earth's polar magnetosphere. The Aurora Borealis has fascinated human beings for millennia. Different Inuit and other indigenous northern peoples formed numerous legends about the mysterious lights, and while some believed they were a harmless and benevolent display sent by their ancestors, other groups believed the lights were downright hostile. One legend even said that if you were to whistle at the lights, they would swoop down from the sky and decapitate you! Nowadays, we know the scientific explanation, but all the beauty and wonder remains, and the Aurora Borealis is something you'll never forget witnessing. We wouldn't blame you if you decided not to risk whistling at it, though!
Dangers to Watch Out For
All this northern primeval beauty is not without its hazards. Every wilderness area has some dangers in common— which, to be honest can happen anywhere, including twisted ankles, sprains, bad falls and more, but these become a matter of life and death when you're out in the remote parts of the world. Boreal forests and wetlands are riddled with bogs, which can be beautiful, provided you can see them before you step in one and begin to sink. Tundra is untrustworthy as well, because the spongy nature of the ground can be deceptive, and a single step can result in frigid water when you least expect it. Even when you aren't at risk of drowning and have simply plunged knee- or waist-deep into water, in extreme latitudes like the subarctic north hypothermia can take you down very quickly. Plus, you'll have insects and even wild predators to contend with if you're especially unlucky. Disease is also a possibility, and like every other disadvantage, it becomes very dangerous when away from civilization.
This isn't meant to scare you away from some of the most beautiful land on Earth; only to remind you that you'll need to take precautions. The Iridium network is by far the best satellite phone service for use in the Alaskan and Canadian wilderness, and even the North Pole should you choose to venture that far. Before your trip, make sure you buy or rent an Iridium satellite phone from Outfitter Satellite. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!