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Right place, wrong attitude I stood on the walkway over Steep Creek, in the shadow of the Mendenhall Glacier. A popular spot for Juneau locals and visitors alike. This late summer afternoon, sockeye salmon finned in the clear shallows, flashing their deep red spawning colors; a bald eagle perched in a spruce, framed by the autumn-tinged slopes of Mount McGinnis: the whole scene a giant, living postcard. I gazed out, feeling my pulse and breathing slow to match my surroundings. An incoming clump-clump of footsteps signaled an end to my moment alone. No big shock. After all, the bus-packed parking lot for the Glacier Visitor Center lay just a hundred yards away. Amazing, I told myself, that this little chunk of country could absorb so much traffic, day in and out, and stay this good. “Where are the bears?” A New Jersey voice in the crowd demanded. “They said…

Essential Alaska Gear Whether you’re confronting a curious bear outside your tent at night or can’t make it out of the mountains before dark, a good headlamp is a vital part of any Alaska backcountry kit. I bring two headlamps on longer adventures in case one gets broken, lost, or just quits working—which happens more than I’d like to admit. While there’s everything from cheap and quick-to-break models to expensive and large floodlights on the market, the Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp is a good middle-of-the-pack option that was perfect for everything I needed. Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty, it’s lightweight and offers a relatively long burn time. It fits comfortably, even when you have a Scandinavian bobble-head like me, and it’s easy to use. Other headlamps I’ve tried have stopped working due to moisture issues. I am excessively sweaty and live in southeast Alaska where we locals…