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backpacking

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One woman’s stand-off with a persistent grizzly I am drifting off to sleep in my tent in the Ray Mountains, a little-known mountain range north of Fairbanks and south of the Brooks Range. My 12-year-old Australian sheepdog, Blumli, sleeps at my feet. The arctic sun, still above the horizon, casts a soft evening glow on the surrounding peaks. The wilderness is pleasant and peaceful. After a long day’s walk, I drift into sweet slumber, knowing the next 10 days will feed my soul in a way that only wild country can. I don’t know what awakens me, a slight motion from Blumli, or that internal messenger that says, “Wake up, there is a bear 15 feet from your head.” I am not excessively worried. I’ve seen hundreds of bears, and never had anything you would call a bear encounter. Bears, except possibly polar bears, don’t habitually hunt humans. Our troubles…

Katmai’s Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes


STEPPING OUT OF THE BUSH PLANE INTO THE VALLEY OF TEN THOUSAND SMOKES, my shoes sink into the ash and pumice. A cold breeze carrying the vague smell of sulfur stings my face as I scan the valley for signs of life, finding none.

Follow Alaska’s fall colors south to Lost Lake

[by Mollie Foster]


As spectacular as they are, it’s surprisingly easy to miss fall colors in Alaska. Once the leaves start changing hues, they only stay on the trees for two to three weeks, with peak foliage lasting only 48 hours in some areas.