Signs of Fall / by Caroline Van Hemert

As we left the ocean and headed inland, the coastal plain felt deserted but for a few orphan caribou calves and the shrieks of jaegers defending their young. Now, hiking up the Hulahula River, we are nearing the continental divide, following the tracks of thousands of caribou.  It seems strange to be traveling south after so many months of northward progress and already we notice the first signs of fall, blueberries are ripening and the sun dips behind the mountains each evening, the closest thing we’ve seen to a sunset in weeks.  Yesterday, we watched a wolverine watch us, got stung by ground nesting bees, and listened to the liquid calls of upland sandpipers.  We feel humbled by the scale of this giant glacial valley, where boulders and bears have a way of disappearing into the hillsides and broad peaks stretch beyond view.