From Alatna to Kobuk river

I intend, in august 2020, to make a trip in the Brooks. I’d like to join the Kobuk river from the Alatna. Whish is the best way to go over the Continental Divide, Akabluak Pass or Gull Pass? Thanks for you help.

Hi Mat,

Got your message. Ten days to Walker Lake from Anaktuvuk Pass is doable, but seems fast to me, especially in August when it can get cold, dark, and rainy and at my age (58). I think it took Andrew Skurka and me five days to get to Circle Lake from Anaktuvuk Pass in 2010. When I was 18 (young and dumb, but quite fast and fearless) it took me five days walking over Independence Pass from Takahula Lake to Walker Lake by way of the Arrigetch when that pass was easy (the Tooth Shaped Glacier had not receded much yet) and down upper Kobuk and over to north end of Walker Lake. That was 1979. In 1995, Jon Krakauer, my wife Peggy and I went over Independence Pass and it was sketchy (the glacier had melted substantially)! In 2005 Jason Geck and I went over Independence Pass (my fourth time between 1979 and 2006) and it felt like a rock climb due to the glacier’s recession. So if you were to head up Hot Springs Creek (aka Aiyagomahala Ck aka South Arrigetch Creek) to get to Kobuk headwaters you could be turned back by that pass.

I went down Nahtuk Creek in 1986 and vowed to never go back: tussocks, brush, steep canyon and no game trails (always a bad sign). I have since been down Pingaluk River valley and find the walking good and with enough water the Pingaluk looks like class III.

Gull Pass goes to Noatak from Alatna, then you’d have to go over Angiiak Pass (west of Igikpak) and down the Reed to get to the Kobuk. The Reed starts out steep and bouldery but then mellows out. It also has a hot springs which is a nice soak. You could also go up the Noatak River valley after crossing Gull Pass and over “Mystery Pass” to the same creek that Akabluak Pass takes you to. My experience is that most passes with an Inupiaq name in the Brooks Range are good to go and so are the early explorer’s passes also named on USGS maps.

Going over Akabluak takes you into an upper tributary of Walker Lake. I have not followed that tributary all the way to Walker Lake, but have heard from those who have that there are some good game trails there.

Again, mid August to mid-September I find to be quite chilly and wet, with potentially high water and wet, cold brush, even when following good game trails and that cold weather and darkness slow me down.

Sorry to be so tardy with an answer. I was away to the Brooks Range myself during the month of June.


Hello Roman,

Thanks a lot for all those informations. Weather can be unpredictable. I got 3 weeks rain in september in Lapland, whish is suppose to be a dry month, 2 weeks rain in july in the Brooks (2014). But I note that June seems the best month in the Brooks.
Again, thanks for those valuable infos.


Hello Roman,

I will follow your advice. I choosed the month of June. Since I want to reach the Pingaluk river, while looking on the maps, I was wondering about that route: leaving the John river at Hunt Fork and hiking up the Kevuk Creek valley. Have you any info about that route? I know that most of the people choose going up the Wolverine Creek, but I want to do a different route. Have a good day. Mathieu