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Easy to difficult outings near Anchorage Hitting the trail is a great way to enjoy summer in Alaska—it’s good exercise, you can unplug from technology for a few hours, and you might encounter wild animals. Here are five scenic hikes within easy reach of Anchorage. 1. Turnagain Arm Trail (easy) With four trailheads along this approximately 10-mile route, you can do a quick hike or bring a picnic and make a day of it. South-facing and snow-free early in the season, this trail is a great introduction to Alaskan hiking—you’ll see wildflowers, mountain views, and maybe even Dall sheep or brown or black bears. • • • 2. Dew Mound (easy) Trek through a forest of birch, cottonwood, and spruce on this 6.1-mile loop. Take a lunch break at the exposed rock of Dew Mound overlooking a quiet pond surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Watch for moose, bears, and many species…

I always get questions about sunlight when I tell people I’m from Alaska. I have my typical spiel about our vast state, and how it’s different depending on the latitude. In Southcentral we must squeeze the most out of a meager five hours of sunlight in the depths of winter. But come summer, it’s light all day. The sun still sinks behind the mountains, but there’s enough light to function. Occasionally, someone will ask me how I sleep, and I explain that I’m conditioned. As a kid my mom would open our shades sometime in April and wouldn’t let us close them until fall. Sleeping through the midnight sun just became a way of life. But there’s not much sleeping this time of year anyway. Every Alaskan who just suffered months of darkness knows that winter is coming, and they’re determined to make the most of it. June is for…

A Vacation in Southeast Alaska By Michelle Theall It’s the end of April as I type this, and it’s snowing outside my window. Big, heavy, cement spring flakes that melt as soon as they hit the pavement. But June is around the corner, which means adventure is too! Instead of sending our 13-year-old son to camp this year, we rented a place in Haines for two weeks and another in Sitka for two weeks to explore Southeast. I found both places on VRBO, and they both overlook the water, and in truth, they are about three times as expensive as summer camp typically costs us. I confessed this a week or so ago, after booking flights and ferries and a rental car. Funny how things spiral out of control once you put them into motion. We’ll be eating ramen noodles the rest of the summer, but it will be worth…

A brilliant moon illuminates fresh white snow on the Kenai Mountains in southcentral Alaska as multicolored auroras dance above Portage Lake on November 7, 2017, at 3:33 am. Photo by Todd Salat. “I hear the northern lights are going to shut off because we’re in the low of the solar cycle,” someone had told me a while back. This thought flashed through my mind as I stood bewildered by the aurora dancing directly over me last March in Alaska’s interior. Not one night, but five nights in a row, the nighttime sky erupted with wild, bizarre sheets of emerald white and crimson light rippling and following the turbulent whims of our magnetic field interacting with the solar wind. Science turned magical. It’s true that we are currently in what’s called solar minimum, the quieter phase in the approximate 11-year sunspot cycle. This means sunspots are low in number. Headline-grabbing explosions…