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This was the only open business between Eagle Summit and the Yukon River at Circle. Gas (no higher than at home), coffee, and a BLT were all essential by then, as well as a mosquito-free W.C.

I stopped in again for one of these [beers] on the way back, and a goldminer named John Brown insisted I drink a Crown Royal with him, so we swapped rounds, along with stories of prospecting for gold and butterflies. The whiskey helped sleep come for the third of five bright nights passed in a rental car.

In Circle: fish traps fashioned from birch, and permafrost banks melting into the Yukon.

Snowshoe hares, red foxes, and moose are much more frequent than automobiles.

Endemic Bottlecaps:
Anything but Bud! (This Bear’s for you)

The Outhouse of the Midnight Sun at Galbraith Lake–next to the last chance before the Arctic Ocean. Photo by Keith Andrews.

The habitat on Eagle Summit — a place I’ve longed to visit for decades — is much like this, except it was green with spring and spotted with the pastels of arctic flowers. The sky, however, was even grayer, and the high winds and rain kept the butterflies* at bay, pinning me down like a prostrate willow.

* such as: Banded Alpine, Melissa Arctic, and Eversmann’s Parnassian.

By coincidence, this Bookfest was underway when I arrived in Fairbanks. In the evenings, I was fortunate to hear readings by and hang out with writer friends including Nancy Lord, Bill Sherwonit, Eva Saulitas, John Straley, and Seth Kantner, as well as beloved artist/naturalist Ray Troll, who is also a rocker. But that isn’t what I came north for. It was high time to head up the Dalton Highway to the North Slope. There, the sun came out, and out and out, and with it, the butterflies of the High Arctic.