Arctic & Antarctic

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Alaska: Backpacking the Brooks Range
The critters up north have to scurry to take advantage of the Arctic's short summer, and you will too if you want to fit in everything your NOLS instructors want to teach you. Grizzlies, wolves, muskoxen, and blisters will be your companions as you learn survival skills hiking over soft tundra and up braided river channels during your 15-day stay in the vast Brooks range.
Outfitter: National Outdoor Leadership School, 307-332-5300, www.nols.edu
When to Go: July, August
Price: $3150
Difficulty: Strenuous

Norway: Hiking Aurslandsdalen
You'll trek briskly through the countryside with the Norwegian Hiking Association for seven days on this trip, stopping along the way to spend the night in staffed lodges. Your speedy Norwegian guides will point out the region's flora and fauna as you power your way up the mountains. Few Americans end up in backcountry of Norway, so you'll have a chance to interact with European and Norwegian alpine aficionados. In the interest of national pride, try to keep up.
Outfitter: Borton Overseas, 800-843-0602, www.bortonoverseas.com
When to Go: July, August
Price: $659
Difficulty: Strenuous

Alaska: Following Caribou Herds
Spend eight days following migrating caribou through glacier encircled valleys and wide-open tundra in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You'll trail the herd to its summer grazing grounds, crossing dozens of unnamed creeks and mountains on your 40-mile trek. In addition to the thousands of caribou, there will be chances to see wolves, grizzlies, and golden eagles in action. This may be the time to cultivate a herd mentality.
Outfitter: Arctic Wild, 888-577-8203, www.arcticwild.com
When to Go: June
Price: $2100
Difficulty: Moderate

Greenland:Kayaking Ammassalik Island
The fjords around Ammassalik Island are brimming with narwhals, seals, ermine, arctic wolves and dozens of other cold-comfort creatures. To see them, paddle your expedition sea kayak around four-story icebergs and forbidding mountains that rise directly out of the ocean. The 16-day adventure will also include time to scramble up unnamed peaks and chat with native Greenlanders who subsist on hunting and fishing in their unforgiving arctic homeland.
Outfitter: Mountain Travel Sobek, 800-247-MTSOBEK, www.mtsobek.com
When to Go: July, August
Price: $3190
Difficulty: Strenuous

Alaska: Rafting the Noatak Wilderness
Between fishing for grayling, climbing nearby mountains, and watching fattened caribou cross the river on their southern migration, you'll float 100 miles down the Noatak River on the edge of the arctic for nine days. Along the way, there will be an opportunity to scale a vertical mile on 7310-foot Mt. Oyukak and to watch the Northern Lights jig across the sky.
Outfitter: Arctic Wild, 888-577-8203, www.arcticwild.com
When to Go: August
Price: $2600
Difficulty: Moderate

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