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SELAWIK: Soaking up Spring at the Springs
Alaska Region, May 4, 2010
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Shungnak students travel by snowmachine to Selawik Hot Springs. Photo by Susan Georgette, April 2010.
Shungnak students travel by snowmachine to Selawik Hot Springs. Photo by Susan Georgette, April 2010. - Photo Credit: n/a
Steaming pools and snow-free ground welcome visitors to the Hot Springs. Photo by Susan Georgette, April 2010.
Steaming pools and snow-free ground welcome visitors to the Hot Springs. Photo by Susan Georgette, April 2010. - Photo Credit: n/a

On a brilliant spring afternoon in mid-April, a dozen snowmachines paused at the crest of a hill south of the Kobuk Rive village of Shungnak. The travelers—11 students and 10 adults—adjusted their gear, checked their sleds, and took in the sweeping vistas before setting off again on the 46-mile trail to the Selawik Hot Springs.

 

The Hot Springs, located at the far eastern edge of the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, are tucked into a small timbered valley, protected from the notorious winds of the nearby tundra. Two aging cabins and a bathhouse provide rustic accommodations for sleeping, cooking, and soaking in the hot sulphur water. Modern conveniences—electricity, running water, TV, the Internet—are nowhere nearby. Local residents revel in the simple outdoor life that a trip to the Hot Springs offers.

 

To share this experience with youngsters, the Shungnak School Iñupiaq Program and the Native Village of Shungnak organized an outing for 11 students, ranging from elementary to high school age. The students and accompanying adults camped for three days at the Hot Springs exploring the streams and springs, viewing wildlife, repairing sleds, cutting and splitting firewood, butchering caribou, sledding, and soaking in the mineral waters. One of the highlights of the trip was encountering hundreds of caribou strung across the tundra heading north to calving grounds—the vanguard of the Western Arctic herd’s spring migration.

 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service provided financial support for the Hot Springs trip, most of which was used to purchase fuel. Gasoline in Shungnak sells for $8.49 per gallon, making a trip to the Hot Springs a significant expenditure. The entire community was extremely grateful for the Service’s support!


Contact Info: Susan Georgette, 907-442-3799 ext 16, susan_georgette@fws.gov



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