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We deflated the rafts and rigged our packs over lunch. It was time to go hiking again.

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Onto a long ridge, we walked over clay and flat rocks. The smoothness of the footing was contrasted by the coarseness of the wind. It blew steadily from the south, howling across the ridge at 40, 50, perhaps 60 miles per hour. A gust in Pt. Lay was recorded during the period at over 60 mph, and winds were surely stronger atop the ridge where we walked. Each of us were nearly knocked over more than once.

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Dropping over the edge of the ridge, I felt the wind drop. There was some flat ground here too, so we pitched tents as a rainbow formed over the valley below. When our tents weren’t rippling from spillover gusts, we could hear the wind on the ridge above us, roaring like the rumble of a big rapid.

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Another long day brought us to the Kukpowruk, and the first blue sky in 36 hours. The clearing skies had no effect on the wind. We surfed and ruddered downstream with relative ease, but always on guard to not get sideways and flipped by a powerful gust. At a severe left bend, we were forced ashore. Here the river ran southwest, meaning the wind raced upstream. There was no paddling against it. We deflated our boats.

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Fortunately the bend only lasted a half-mile. Small grizzly tracks led down the beach and across the tundra to a small gravel and mud cove where we re-inflated, and paddled onward.

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