Icy Reef / by Caroline Van Hemert

We crossed the border into Alaska yesterday morning, passing from Ivvavik National Park to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Since we left Herschel Island, we've seen belugas, seals, and much colder and wetter weather.  Walking along a spit littered with whale bones and eider nests, dense fog obscured all but the waves lapping at the shore.  Waking from this grey haze to sunshine the next morning, we looked out on a sea of icebergs stretching to the far horizon.  Caribou and their calves grazed along the lush coastal plain, wedged between the mountains and the ocean.  Moving through this land of extremes we are wide-eyed at its vastness.  We've alternated between hiking on the beaches and tundra and for one stretch cruised along huge sheets of ice still held fast to shore.  We are now traveling on Icy Reef, a thin shelf of sand and gravel that parallels the mainland.