Once a year, the entire fulltime staff of KICY AM & FM flies to Serpentine Hot Springs for a weekend retreat. Many thanks to State Senator Donny Olson who donates his time and airplane to make this valuable time together possible. Serpentine Hot Springs is part of the Western Arctic National Parklands and no motorized, wheeled vehicles, except fixed wing airplanes are permitted into the park.
The road to Serpentine ends about 30 miles from the small airstrip which serves the large, double bunkhouse and bathhouse. The hot springs, one of the warmest in Alaska at 170 degrees, is diverted into the bathhouse through a large pipe. Cold water from the neighboring river is also piped into the bathhouse. By inserting a towel into one pipe or another, the temperature in the wooden hot tub is maintained.
The hot springs have been a place of physical and spiritual healing for generations. For KICY staff, it’s a time of isolation, a time of dependence on one another and a time of just being together without the demands of our work. All the food is packed in so meal planning is critical. There are no lights except for two Coleman lanterns. There are two fuel-oil furnaces. There are two cooking areas and a central lobby where game can be cleaned. Bears often visit.
Surrounding the hot springs are thousands of square miles of spectacular scenery. Granite tors rise up from the tundra creating towering spires. Herds of thousands of caribou migrate through the area.