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My Love for Alaska’s Winter Images and text by Carl Johnson It is 6 a.m., and, while it is still pitch dark, the nearly full moon floats over Cook Inlet on its descent behind the Alaska Range. Its bright light and surrounding stars reveal a hillside’s silhouette with a layer of fog enveloping the Anchorage bowl below.  This is one of my favorite times of winter—when several days of calm, cold, and clear conditions and persistent ice fog create a landscape that might have inspired the movie Frozen. It is a winter wonderland, where everything is fresh and new, magical and mystical, and utterly beautiful. This, for me as a photographer, is one of the many reasons why I love winter in Alaska. In any season, photography provides me a way to connect deeply with my natural surroundings. In winter, that experience is enhanced through a greatly simplified landscape, covered…

Tour operators at the brink Booking and canceling and rebooking travel during the pandemic was not for the faint of heart. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Oh, who am I kidding? It was the worst of times. If you worked in the travel industry over the last few years and are reading this, you’ve either been released from the looney bin or are allowed to have this magazine as one of your institutional privileges. Tour operators at the brink. The pandemic hit all of us hard, but it sent most travel-related workers over the edge. If we’ve recovered at all in 2022, we remain shell-shocked. Our “long-COVID” is a special kind of PTSD that has us duck for cover at the words: rollover, rebooking, cancelation, vaccination, testing protocol. My hands still shake before I send a non-refundable deposit to hold six spots at…

Congratulations to our 2022 photo contest winners. Each image tells a story or captures a slice of Alaska’s unique beauty, adventure, or way of life. This year, we’ve included photographers’ Instagram names so you can follow them online to see even more of their explorations around Alaska and beyond. We hope you enjoy these colorful images from around the Great Land. Grand Prize Winner JENNIFER SMITH @jfogle02 Look for this image on the cover of our February Issue of Alaska Magazine. Categories Alaska Life: Representing Alaskans and/or their way of life, traditions, culture, or authentic “only in Alaska” moments. CLOSE-UPS: Showing the close-up details of anything Alaskan, from nature to people to urban constructs. Scenic: Emphasizing the landscape and scenery of Alaska with or without the human element. Wildlife: Animals native to Alaska (not in captivity). Alaska Life 1st Place JILLIAN BLUM @jillian.blum 2nd Place DAVID NEEL @akwildphoto 3rd Place…

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…

An Arctic Miracle on Hold Seth Kantner and I sat, leaning into our binoculars. The sandy knoll commanded a huge sweep of autumn-bright country—rolling tundra banded with willow and spruce, framed by the ragged, snow-dusted heave of the western Brooks Range. Working near to far, we scanned each crease and hummock, studied clumps of brush and jumbles of rock, searching the blue-tinted distance for shimmers of movement, anything that stood out or reflected light a bit differently. This place was far more than a fine view in a landscape defined by countless others. Half a lifetime had passed since I’d first looked out from this crest, and I’d returned more times than I could count. Seth’s attachment lay deeper still. He’d been born just a few miles to the east and knew this place from childhood. Each of us, together and alone, and in varying company, had spent time here…