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Through July and August, fireweed seems so ubiquitous in Alaska it’s often said it should be our state flower. The plant is so prolific in Southcentral that just seeing a picture of fireweed in bloom during the depth of winter will bring me a flood of summer memories. The purple flowers start blooming from the base and work their way up to the plant’s tip, and every sourdough knows the story that when the bloom reaches the top, it’s only six weeks ‘til winter. That groundhog in Punxsutawney may have us covered with the forecast for spring, but without fireweed, we’d be lost in the autumn. Luckily for Alaskans, fireweed has become more than just a gauge spelling the end of our summer play and a dive into winter. Its ubiquity has spread to store shelves, where you can find it made into fireweed honey, jelly, syrup, tea, and even…

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…