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st. paul island


The Pribilof Islands Premier birding and more

[by Kevin McCarthy]

ALASKA IS A WILD AND REMOTE PLACE, and it occurs to me while flying far out over the Bering Sea that few places, even in Alaska, are as wild and remote as my destination: the Pribilof Islands.

Get Inspired For many people, a trip to Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime dream fulfilled. For others, it’s a return to one of their favorite places on the planet. And some visit once and decide to make the state their home. There are reasons aplenty to come to the Great Land and explore: An abundance of wildlife, unique cultural experiences, and unparalleled scenery are just a few. Building time into your itinerary to relax and absorb the small delights is always a good idea, too—enjoying quirky cafes, strolling through a boat harbor, groovin’ to some live local music. And if you’ve never been here, we hope these photos nudge you to start planning. Who knows, in just a few short months, you could be watching humpback whales bubble-net feeding or be flightseeing around the summit of Denali. After all, every adventure starts with an inspiration. —Susan Sommer 1. A pair of…

Discovering ancient bones near McGrath. The water level in the Kuskokwim River rises and falls in response to snowmelt and rain. High water plucks trees from the muddy riverbanks, transporting them down the river. Low water strands jumbles of wood on sandbars. These wood piles are welcome to the river communities because the logs are a convenient source of firewood. I was six years old when we set out from McGrath to collect firewood. Francis, my stepdad, drove the boat upriver, so that the collected logs could then be floated downriver. Our strategy was to tie a raft of logs to the bow of the boat and gently motor the raft back to town. While my mom and Francis were sawing wood for the raft, I played games with my older brother Burke—setting up sticks for target practice with rocks or a BB gun. Burke recalls that one of the…

Behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Michael Melford Text by Emily Mount, photos by Michael Melford. Michael Melford popped open the door of the Piper Super Cub and looked out on an epic wonderland of snow, ice, and vertical rock. He and pilot Paul Claus were idling at some 10,000 feet on a flattish slope deep in the heart of the St. Elias Mountains. Suffering a few misgivings, he jumped out, plunging knee-deep into powdery snow. With a roar, Claus taxied downhill and dropped off the edge of the slope. Then all was silent. Melford was on assignment with National Geographic, photographing Treasures of Alaska, a guidebook. “I had read about Paul as the cowboy pilot of Alaska, one of the best in the state, so I trusted him,” Melford says. “I had to.” When Melford had asked for an air-to-air photo shoot with two planes, Claus replied, “We…