Running with the Caribou

Adventure is where you lead a full life.”  Philippe Cousteau Sr.

I love this quote from my husband’s late father.  Exploring our world and having amazing experiences leads to a richer and fuller existence…the true definition of a luxurious life.  Even before I married into the environmental legacy of Cousteau, I have been obsessed with animals.  From diving with great whites off Mexico, seeing bears in Sequoia and befriending a rhino in Nepal, animals continue to be a part of who I am. So when we were invited to camp in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in hopes of seeing the largest mammal migration and running with the caribou in the Northern hemisphere…I had a good feeling about it.

Ashlan Cousteau - Running with Caribou

We set up camp (aka our tents) and hiked to the top of the valley’s ridge.  There, taking in the beautiful scenery, I spotted one, a female caribou walking right toward me.  Then I realized she had a baby following her…I almost fell over with excitement!  Next thing I knew, thousands and thousands of caribou started streaming over the ridge all around us.  Even our Alaskan guides were mesmerized as only a handful of people have ever witnessed the migration of almost the full herd this close-up.  It’s these once in a lifetime trips that are the best experiences in the world…Eco-Luxury at its finest!

Ashlan Cousteau - Running with Caribou

After watching the animals for a few hours we hiked back to prepare dinner.  And just because we are outdoors doesn’t mean we needed to live like barbarians.  We had yummy wine, cheese & crackers and locally cured meats, a meal fit for a king.   We brought some French Calvados to make warm after dinner drinks and our breakfast consisted of farm fresh eggs with truffle salt.  Our gear and clothes needed to be pretty technical up in the Arctic, but I also want to look put together.  The key to dressing for places like this is in layers so when the weather changes, you can add something or take it off.  My favorite brands for expedition chic are pants by Prana, jackets by The North Face, and always have a light cashmere sweater with you plus cozy wool socks.  Cotton socks are a no-no!   The one luxury you must bring to the Arctic in the summer…an eye mask as it 24 hours of daylight.

Ashlan Cousteau - Running with Caribou

Three days on the frozen tundra surrounded by at least 60,000 caribou, three wolves and a bear was a life changing experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

Running with the Caribou

*These beautiful, wild places need our protection.  To keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge safe for future generations, please sign the petition to President Obama by clicking here.

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Running with the Caribou