fbpx
Tag

featured

Browsing

Carving your own slice of wilderness Standing on the bank of an arctic river, you gaze down into water so clear you can see char ghosting at the bottom of a 10-foot pool. The river pours downstream, cutting its way through a valley hewn of rock and tundra—a hard, beautiful place cast in surreal light. Your inflatable raft lies skidded up on the gravel, and a pot of water steams over a fire. You’ll make a few casts for dinner and spend the night here, not far from fresh-edged tracks of wolf and grizzly. There’s no one but you in this valley; nor in the next, or the one beyond. It’s been six days since your bush plane drop-off, and another half dozen until the river swirls past an off-grid village. You’ll take your time as you go, making side hikes, pausing often to watch and listen, to feel yourself…

Keep frostbite at bay There’s a saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather if you have the right gear. Because I run trips through the winter months to some of the most inhospitable places on Earth and have damaged a few piggy toes with frostbite, I’ve learned the hard way what it takes to stay safe and (almost) toasty in the frigid north. I photograph polar bears, auroras, and the Iditarod—all of which can be found above the Arctic Circle from October through March—when smart folks opt for the beaches of Hawaii and Mexico. But truly, those people are unnecessarily missing out—big time. I blame my frostbite on stupidity, of course, but also on the adrenaline and awe that numb my common sense. Despite jackhammer shivering and the icepick piercing stings of 30 below temperatures, I refuse to exchange what just might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a cup…

Alaskans rank at the top Alaska, as readers of this magazine know, is a dream travel destination as well as a fine place to live. What many might not know, however, is how quirky Alaskans can be. From various sources—and a little experience—I’ve discovered the following stats about my fellow northerners. Among all 50 states, Alaskans eat the most ice cream per capita. Perhaps that’s one reason Anchorage-ites were voted the worst dressed by a different magazine’s reader poll. It’s easier to hide the tummy roll under an old parka, right? Also, XTRATUFs are a staple on any real Alaskan’s boot rack, but add to that a pair of baggy Carhartt pants and a well-worn sweatshirt, and you’re ready for an evening out on the town for some…dessert wine? Yes, we Alaskans apparently like the sweet stuff, as we purchase, per capita, the most. Ruby port over “Crude Oil” (chocolate…

How they came to be by Jonathan B. Jarvis & T. Destry Jarvis The following excerpts from National Parks Forever: Fifty Years of Fighting and a Case for Independence (2022, University of Chicago Press), by Jonathan B. Jarvis and T. Destry Jarvis, are shared with permission. They are taken from chapter 2, “Alaska: Doing it Right the First Time.” Jonathan Jarvis was director of the National Park Service from 2009-2017. His brother, Destry, has worked in lands conservation for decades. While traveling thirty miles to another creek or valley in Virginia was an adventure, we vicariously visited wild country through the writings of Zane Grey, Sigurd Olson, and Wallace Stegner. We traveled west with Ward Bond on “Wagon Train” and experienced nature up close with Walt Disney. But Alaska called to us as the ultimate adventure. Little did we know that, one day, we would have the opportunity to not…

Alaska’s version of a Caribbean private island  Around 20 years ago, there was talk of creating a new Alaskan cruise destination, somewhat akin to the private island cruise ports in the Caribbean that had proven so popular. More than one company was said to be developing the concept. The one that came to fruition was Icy Strait Point, owned and operated by the Huna Totem Corporation. Icy Strait Point welcomed its first ship, Celebrity Cruises’ Mercury, on May 23, 2004. Since then, it has become a fixture on southeast Alaskan cruise itineraries. Its position some 30 miles west of Juneau on Chichagof Island, near the entrance to Glacier Bay National Park, puts it right in the path of cruise ships traveling the Inside Passage. Virtually every cruise line operating in Alaska calls here, and it’s not just the obvious megaship names like Princess and Royal Caribbean. Smaller yacht-like luxury ships…

Important moments captured in print The images in this archival portfolio prove what we’ve always known: There’s no place on Earth like Alaska. The storied history of our state includes, well, statehood itself, along with catastrophic volcanic eruptions, record-shattering earthquakes, the gold rush, groundbreaking legislation, and the purchase of Alaska from Russia—to name a few. While we couldn’t include every monumental event, we hand-selected a few unique and compelling images to serve as a reminder of the people, places, decisions, and elements of the natural world that have shaped the Great Land. —Michelle Theall Anchorage’s Fourth Avenue looking east after the devastating earthquake of 1964 The massive 9.2 magnitude Good Friday earthquake occurred on March 27. The shaking and subsequent tsunamis and landslides caused more than 100 deaths, and the state sustained $311 million in damages. The quake was the most powerful recorded in North American history. A colossal 200,000…

More than you see, fewer than you think peered around a boulder and there they were: a half dozen Dall rams bedded down, the nearest so close I could see my reflection in an amber eye framed by a curl of horn. They turned their heads to regard me but didn’t rise; instead, they gave what seemed to be a collective shrug as I settled in and raised my camera. I spent the next hours among them in the late August sun as they napped and grazed along the edge of that rock-strewn ridge, the air so still I could hear the echoing rush of the creek 2,000 feet below. That afternoon, still vivid after decades, explains as well as any why I came to Alaska: to meet wild animals in big, wild country. Pretty much everyone Alaska-bound hopes, even expects, the same. No doubt they’re out there, millions of…

Gear Review The Meindl family began making footwear more than 300 years ago in a small village in Germany. Since then, the business, passed down from each previous generation of the family, has become recognized worldwide for making quality boots designed for hikers and hunters. Meindl designed a collection of wool socks specifically for rough and blister-prone types of travel. I tested three of their wool socks, the MT6 Midweight, MT8 Heavyweight, and the MT Jagd Heavyweight, last late fall and winter. I used my Meindl socks for wet hikes in the mountains and valleys in my home in southeast Alaska. They were also my go-to for the numerous sledding expeditions I made with my two young boys. While designed for rough travel and lots of miles, they are extremely comfortable. I’m not used to wool socks fitting so well. Even after a long day, they didn’t slip a millimeter. I live in…

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…

Winning not required We’re idling along on a glassy sea. Somewhere ahead of us water meets sky, but a thin veil of fog renders the horizon indiscernible at times. Behind us, the town of Valdez has revved into the full swing of its 55th annual silver salmon derby.  I’m with my brother Chris aboard the Cape Corona, a vessel of his own handiwork, thanks to the events of 2020. While many of us flocked to the stores to garner toilet paper, Chris procured gallons of fiberglass resin and rolls of the various fabric that comprise the laminate. With months of downtime on his hands, he gutted a 22-foot hull to its bare bones and built what he hopes is the ultimate saltwater fishing machine. With us today is 26-year-old Sarah Minturn, whose dexterity at untangling lines and agility on deck are at once enviable, if not a grim reminder that…