Kavik River Camp

Kavik River Camp

Distance between Fairbanks and Kavik River Camp

I just returned from a visit with my friend Sue.  Aka Super Sue, aka, Tundra Babe, aka Susan Aikens.  Last winter when she was here in town recuperating we had talked about doing this for her upcoming 50th birthday but then I didn’t hear any more about it until the week before her birthday.  I didn’t bring it up again as I didn’t want to feel like I was inviting myself lol.  She chartered a plane and brought several of us up there to help her celebrate in style.

Super Sue's Pre Part

Those of us going met at 11:00 am on Sunday morning at Everts Air here in Fairbanks.  KT had driven up from Wasilla the night before and stayed at my cabin.  Suzette and her husband drove up from Anchorage and stayed in a hotel taking advantage of the jacuzzi tub after their long drive.  Lori, Mike, KT and I all went out to the Howling Dog Saloon for a Saturday night outing.  For Lori, Mike, and me, this is our regular Sat. night.  Oh, I also transported a retired sled dog up to her.  Ermine arrived at my house earlier in the week.

Ermine

One of the most unique views of the trip is flying over the Brooks Range.  Many of you know of it from watching Ice Road Truckers.  They cross at Atigan Pass on the only road that goes up there, the Dalton Highway, also known as the Haul Rd.  This is the mountain range that divides the main portion of Alaska from the northern coastal plains.  North of the Brooks range is called “the North Slope”.  The oil fields of Prudhoe Bay are on the North Slope.  This mountain range forms the northernmost drainage divide in North America, separating streams flowing into the Arctic Ocean and the North Pacific.  They top out at over 9,000 feet.  No real trees grow north of the Brooks and very little plant life grows on these mountains.  It makes for a very surreal landscape.  I think the moon would look similar.

Brooks Range

Our flight was only 2 hours.  At last Kavik River Camp comes into view.  It is very, very isolated.  There are no roads other then her trails, no other buildings, no people, nothing man made in view of the camp nor for a 100 miles (with the exception of her run way, but that’s part of the camp).  It’s 12 miles south of the Arctic Ocean.

Kavik River Camp, Extreme Lodging for Extreme People!

Kavik River Camp is a one of a kind camp located just a few miles from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 2010 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Refuge and what a time to see it! The Camp offers logistical support for all your Arctic needs. Camp, hunt, fish, bird viewing… just about anything you can think of, we are here to help see your Arctic Dreams realized!

Kavik River Camp

Me and Susan

The theme was tropical.  Suzette brought up an inflatable palm tree and a Hawaiian shirt.  I brought a sparkly, fur lined tiara and leis.  Suzette brought leis as well.

The first day we all went on a 4 wheeler ride.  Even picking the shallow river crossings, it got a bit “exciting”, especially when we started to float away with the current.  We all got wet but I got some good shots of flowers when ever we stopped.

Arctic Lupine

Tundra flower

I don’t know what these pink ones are but they were very pretty.

ATV ride

I’ll put a bit about the mosquitos here.  Yes they were very thick.  Deet is your friend when hanging on the tundra.

Yummy dinner prep

Sue’s brother in law Rick, her son and his girlfriend, as well as her grandson were all there to celebrate as well.  Rick did most of the cooking and cleaning as his gift to Susan.  Her son and grandson did a whole lot of chores as well.  What a great time we had just relaxing.  I went up and offered to help several times as I am a bit uncomfortable just sitting around and allowing others to wait on me but I was told “get out” hahaha.  Nothing as manly as men who cook and clean.  Really.

Dinner

Dinner the first night, chicken cordon bleu, baked mac and cheese, veggies.  Yum!

Lori

CHEERS!

Life Below Zero

After dinner we watched the show.  It was fun to watch there with Susan.  We had several great laughs.

Suzette

Helicoptor

This is one of the helicopters coming in for refueling.  You can see the dive bomber mosquitoes that were in competition for air space!  This couple was following the nearby caribou heard.  There was also a plane doing research on how many migratory water fowl nests were in the area.  Yes, they were counting nests.

This far above the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t actually set.  All these pictures were taken between about 11:30 pm and 12:30 am.

Fox Friend

Suzette feeds Foxy.

Happy birthday Sue!

Chocolate cake with coconut on a bed of cherries, covered in home made whipped cream, drizzled in chocolate sauce.  Yes we all attempted to put ourselves in a sugar coma!

I did henna on anyone that wanted some.  It’s always fun.

We serenaded Sue regardless of the mosquitoes.

Mike, Suzette, Sue, me.

Mike, Suzette, Sue, me.  Photo by Suzette.

I really enjoyed playing my fiddle this far north.  I consider my fiddle a traveler and love finding unique places to play it.  This is certainly the farthest north it’s been and probably ever will be.

Fireweed

I was invited on a little ATV expedition.  We were keeping our eyes open for the caribou heard that was about 12 miles away.  Sue offered to help me hunt one (hunting license can be bought online.)  But they ended up not coming through this direction as expected.  Taking in the mosquito population I decided to post-pone hunting until this fall.  Should be lots cooler then and fewer mosquitoes.

If you notice, even the 11 year old grandson goes armed.

Arctic tundra flowers

We had a lot of fun just hanging out and being silly.  Here is the Kavik River Mosquito Dance.  No matter how much Deet one applies, there are still mosquitoes that swarm around you as you take that long, long walk to the outhouse.  These are the movements such a walk necessitates in order to not breath in any of the little buggers.

Video by Lori!

Mosquitos want a ride.

When we got into the plane to leave, it was full of mosquitoes!  We were smashing those suckers for the first hour of our trip.  Thankfully we were all pretty much covered in Deet.

The lovely, magnificent Yukon River from above.

Yukon River

Thank you Sue for a wonderfully unique opportunity.  It was a lot of fun.

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58 thoughts on “Kavik River Camp

  1. Paul Carney says:

    Sue, I write to you because I must give you props for leading your personal life out in the tundra of Alaska. I am very impressed by how you handle yourselves and the surrounding around you. I wish you the best of luck. Signed, Paul Carney, paulcarney04240@gmail.com. Take care and May God Bless you and your home.

    Like

  2. Hello Georgeanne,
    Greetings from North Carolina! I just found your blog today and have bookmarked it. I so enjoyed reading about your Kavlik journey, checking out the photos and look forward to reading your other posts. Not to minimize the beautiful scenery, but the photo with the mosquitoes on steroids has made a lasting impression. How long are they such a nuisance? weeks? hopefully not months!

    Like

    • cloud9doula says:

      Hi Catherine, glad you are enjoying my blog. Yes the mosquito up there are just amazing in their numbers! I think they are pretty thick for a month or so before easing off a bit. I’m not sure though, it may be two months. I live outside of Fairbanks so several hundred miles south of her.

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  3. Great blog. Thanks for posting about your adventure with Sue!

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  4. Gayla says:

    Great blog, G! You sure have a lot of interesting comments….

    Like

    • cloud9doula says:

      Yes I love my commenters hahahha.
      Thanks.

      Like

      • Trace Smith says:

        Hi, I hope I won’t be a nuisance to you by writing this…but..(lol) I found your page while trying to search out an email or blog that Sue might have to tell her how much of a hero she is of mine. Your page is amazing…filled with wonderful pictures, commentary and heart. So, I just had to write and tell you that. I now add you to the list of women that I adore.. ;0)

        I haven’t had a lot of women I’ve been able to look up to in life so when I met Sue via “Life below Zero” I was an instant fan. She represents a dying breed of people that when they say their going to do something..they do it. She respects Gods lands and the living souls who inhabit it. She doesn’t give up…she’s tuff…and so wise!!! I didn’t think there were people out here in the World that I could look up too…Thank-God I’m wrong…lol

        Anyways…as I said…I love your blog…I’m thankful I found it…and Thank-you for allowing us the opportunity to view a portion of your life.

        Kind regards

        Trace H.

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        • cloud9doula says:

          Thank you so much for writing Trace. No, I love comments. They are never a nuisance, though sometimes they are pretty amusing. It’s ok to tell me that you adore Sue. I do too! I am very blessed with the strong, mentoring women I have in my life. They are a source of constant amazement and inspiration. Did you fine the link to contact Susan? http://www.kavikrivercamp.com/ Keep reading as there are good Super Sue times coming up.
          Take care and nice to meet you,
          Georganne

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  5. Diane dimas says:

    Loved the mosquito dance! What a joy to see Sue with her loved ones, I’m a loyal viewer of the show and it’s cool to see you all havin a damn good time. Thank you for sharing your pictures of your journey up there and during your outings. Everything looks so clean and pure it’s surreal, flowers, mountains, the mighty Yukon river, and of course Sues fox friend. It’s my dream to travel there before leaving this earth. I’m from Wyoming, which is beautiful in its own right, but to go somewhere where most people can only dream of going would be the cherry on my life’s cake. So Sue maybe someday I’ll have the pleasure of meeting you in person and hear that free spirited special laugh you have for life. Thanks to all who were involved for sharing their memories of the trip to Kavik!!!

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  6. Shawn McDilda says:

    I love you sue, love watching you on the weekends!

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  7. Donald Collings says:

    Sue you are cool glad theyon’t bleep what you say.I lived in ADAk for a year loved it.Glad you are a proud business owner keep up the good work that you do know it may get lonely at times maybe for you but you are providing a service for people who would not know the adventures of Alaska without you

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  8. Traci says:

    actually sitting here right now catching up on the last two episodes I’ve missed of “Life Below Zero”. Sue is definitely my favorite and when I am able to want to take a trip up to Kavik. she’s one tough woman and I admire her. I could care less if she cursed. up a storm. I have a mouth like a truck driver myself. who cares. love you the show and so awesome you were able to go up. thank you for your blog

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    • cloud9doula says:

      Thank you for your comment Traci. People do not realize that when you spend so much of your time alone, social norms do not apply. Plus, most of those who go visit her are hardy, adventuresome types who don’t armchair quarterback but go out and do it.

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    • debbie gipson says:

      If i could be anybody it would be Sue. She is totally the shyt. She is so down to earth. I hope the camp is a success for her. I am sure it will be…thanks for the blog. it let us see a different side of her…which i like that side too…

      Like

  9. jim shaw says:

    i think that its great all of yall got to go up and visit her. up ther is like another world and life compared to living in south georgia, my flip flops goes off to sue , i’m sure yall have another expedition planned for the future, tell sue hi and yall take care ,ps keep on draggin the bow cossed those strings,lol

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    • cloud9doula says:

      Hi Jim. Oh yes another trip will be coming. I tried to get in another trip last fall for caribou hunting but couldn’t arrange it since I had such a busy summer. I’ll save some vacation time for it next year though. Here’s a wave to all my southern friends with my fuzzy bunny slippers!

      And oh yes, I will continue fiddling. Just had such a good finger burning practice session last night. I’ve also found a local jam session that I am going to go check out next Sunday. Fun fun fun!

      Like

  10. Tom says:

    We as a family like watching life below. 0. But I got to say having my 3 grand daughters watch while you allow Sue to curse and not beep it out is very disturbing to us…. You bleep out everything on other shows… Why the heck not this one. I’m a Alaskan resident , so I’m not a person from lower 48. Just don’t understand ypur mouth sue for national T v :((.

    Like

    • cloud9doula says:

      Sorry, if you had READ my blog post, you would see, I am not Sue. I went to visit Sue as she is my friend. I have no bleeping button. Perhaps you should not allow your young granddaughters to watch the show. It’s National Geographic, not PBS.

      Like

    • Diane dimas says:

      Are you serious? If your a follower of the show then you should realize not everyone has the power of the Beep!!Have you ever heard of parental guidance? If your not sure of the content and its not marked explicit watch or listen to it first then decide to share with young’uns. Not everything in life is marked rated r or x… It’s called freedom of speech, perhaps you better keep blinders and ear plugs around cause honey the real world is where innocence is lost. Do you really think the beeps help? Kids these days are a lot smarter than your giving them credit for. Just saying…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. […] Oh gosh no, they are terrible up there with nothing but moist tundra to breed in. You can see more, including an airplane FULL of mosquitoes on my trip report up there to visit my friend Susan Aikens for her birthday. Kavik River Camp | Alaska, The Madness […]

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  12. JACQUES ROUSSEL says:

    my name is jacques my wife an i watch the show and find that your a courageous lady and whish you luck

    Like

  13. Lori says:

    Hi, where can people help Sue with money??? It would help her get ahead with fuel and supplies. Please consider setting something up where we can send her money. I’m assuming the mailman doesn’t come out around there!

    Like

  14. paul lewis says:

    huge fan i spent two years at wainwright. alaska will never get out of blood. love to hunt and fish, i think about your life up there, sue i think you have found where eden is. if you need some supplies email what you need. paul from tn.

    Like

  15. Doug_K says:

    I’m another fan of “Live Below Zero”. I would like to know why Sue lives in a tent. Why not live in something sturdier like one of those shipping containers (insulated of course!) ? If a wolf sniffing around is a worry then put some steel up.

    Like

    • cloud9doula says:

      Hi Doug. If I understand things correctly, the previous owner, who she worked for, determined how the camp was set up. The thing is, no permanent structures can be built on the tundra so she can’t build a cabin. She can’t use one of the atco trailers because she needs them all for housing people who come up to stay there. But she did just build another quonset (the rounded over tent like the dining hall) for her very own Suebode. She wont set traps because she would catch one of her beloved foxes. They are her pets.

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  16. Lisa says:

    I love Sue! Love watching a female out in the wild, on her own, beating the odds! Have watched “Life Below Zero”but this was nice to see the area in bloom & Sue! Always educational & highly entertaining. Nice to see a 50 year old with the freakin guts enough to step outside this weirdo world & make it! Great pictures & thanks for taking us on your trip.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY COOL SUE!!!

    Like

  17. Toni Banks says:

    Is Sue’s Birthday June 30? Happy Birthday Sue.

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  18. Cowgirl Mommy says:

    Great pics! My oldest son and I are big fans of “Life Below Zero” and Sue is our favorite. My son would love to visit Alaska one day- especially in summer. He is not a fan of the heat here in Texas! Also- I think it’s cool you play fiddle! I play also- but I’m very out of practice. Thanks for sharing your blog and pics! :)

    Like

    • cloud9doula says:

      Thanks Cowgirl Mommy. Is anyone a fan of the heat in a Texan summer? I’m from the south and remember it well. I still have a sister in Ft. Worth. You should pick up your fiddle again. I get so much satisfaction from it.

      Like

  19. Michael Fowler says:

    Great photos. Lived in Tetlin Lake area for a few years in the mid-70’s but not nearly as isolated as the area you visited. Nat Geo show is a lot easier to watch than most of the “reality” shows staged for TV. Your pal that lives at the camp has quite the vocabulary and to be honest the language does not add anything to the show’s credibility nor would I suspect to the ratings. Just my opinion.

    Like

    • cloud9doula says:

      I would put it down to her being real, being herself, not changing due to a camera in her face. Since she spends so much time alone, I imagine she feels she can say what ever the fuck she wants. Hahahha. Sorry. Of course there are times and places that are inappropriate for the f bomb. The North Slope bush isn’t one of them. Have you watched Ice Road Truckers?!

      Like

    • Diane dimas says:

      I think these people should be watching dr phil, he’s pretty good at diapering adults who do nothing but piss and moan about life. Perhaps your balls haven’t dropped yet, so. if I may say, Stop acting like a bitch already. Maybe you should take this up with Sue on her site, but she’d probably tell ya fuck off…she has work to do.

      Like

  20. Tricia Green says:

    I love watching Sue on the show! She is one tough cookie who holds no bars! I’m fascinated by people who choose the rugged Alaskan lifestyle. I recently moved from Vegas to Montana and thought chopping wood for the stove and unfreezing hundreds of feet of hose to water my horses was rugged enough! People who think living in Alaska is a “simple” lifestyle are sadly mistaken. Living, like these brave people do, is anything but simple. Yes…you learn to live with less material items and your life isn’t consumed by technology, however, you are completely responsible for every aspect of your existence! I admire Sue and would love to experience what her life is like…for maybe a week! Thanks for sharing your story and pics!

    Like

  21. NY City Slicker says:

    I’ve only recently became aware of Sue Aikens through the Nat Geo show “Life Below Zero”. I admire her spunk and her “need” to live in isolation. So many of us can only dream of a life at peace – and she’s got it. The best part of being isolated is that you appreciate the company so much more (which is evident in these great pictures). I was content on reading the posts and felt no need to reply until I saw the picture of the mighty winding Yukon. Totally awesome! I just had to comment and say a sincere, “thanks for sharing”. Wishing you guys the best.

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  22. cloud9doula says:

    Reblogged this on Alaska, The Madness and commented:

    I’m bumping this back to the top since it got shunted to the next page when I posted my Fowl Adventure 2013.

    Like

  23. Awesome time G! And really nice pictures. :)

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    • cloud9doula says:

      Thanks Joey. It really was an awesome time!

      Like

      • Keyz56 says:

        Hi G,
        Not to highjack this thread, but, we miss you on the board. IRT is starting up again on July 7th. And guess who’s on the board now? Vlad is with us. He’s a pretty cool guy. He’s got a lot of inside info too.
        Please come back. We truly miss you….
        Joey & “The Gang”

        Like

  24. gailwinds11 says:

    Sounds like you had a great time. The photos are awesome – such beautiful, stark scenery. I tend to be a loner, but I know I couldn’t live that far away from others for very long. Glad you were able to spend time with your friend. I’m sure she enjoyed the birthday party.

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  25. Sounds like so much fun! Thanks for letting us share it. :)

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  26. […] Just returned from my trip up to Kavik River Camp with my friend Susan Aikens of Life Below Zero. Here is my trip report. We had so much fun. Kavik River Camp | Alaska, The Madness […]

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