New year, new dreams

by • January 15, 2014 • ToastComments (0)226

Kick off 2014 with a new discovery

The temperature hovered around 10-below 0, but the sun was out, making it feel warmer. The dogs and I traveled miles beyond Sheep Mountain Lodge, where later, we’d spend the evening with our friends playing hearts and drinking wine, then lighting fireworks and Chinese lanterns to ring in the new year.

Although we’d stayed at this lodge’s awesome, cozy cabins many times before, I’d never been this far beyond the lodge itself.

It took my breath away.

The dogs take a break beyond Sheep Mountain during a New Year?s run in the backcountry. Make this the year you explore some place new in Alaska. Melissa Devaughn

The dogs take a break beyond Sheep Mountain during a New Year?s run in the backcountry. Make this the year you explore some place new in Alaska. Melissa Devaughn

As the dogs climbed up and up and up, I marveled yet again at how easy it is in Alaska to be “off-the-beaten path” in just a few minutes. We stopped for a break and the dogs only rested for a few seconds before looking back at me impatiently, eager to see what was over the treeless mountains. They, like me, had grown weary of the same-old, same-old trails near our home, convenient for every-day running but so well-trodden we could run them with our eyes closed. Here, now, before us spread endless waves of mountain, linked by sweeping open saddles that seemed to go on out of sight. The dogs began barking, yanking on their lines and ready to resume the run.

If this feels wild, I thought to myself, just think what it must be like to explore the remoteness of western Alaska and so many other untouched places off the road system. It would make this trail I followed look like a city thoroughfare.

It takes moments like these to remind myself that despite the many adventures I’ve been fortunate enough to have in Alaska, I’ve really not scratched the surface of what’s still out there, waiting to be discovered. And while the temptation to return to the familiar is appealing, there is something even more exciting about going into the unknown.

Each year, I like to make a silent pact with myself that I will spread my wings just a little bit further, prod myself a little bit longer and see more of this amazing state in which we live. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering: One year, that meant finally – finally! – hiking the Butte. Another year, though, it involved going whaling with a family in Barrow. For each and every of these outings, big or small, time-consuming or brief, I feel like I place one more puzzle piece in understanding the full picture of this state.

This month, we here at Coast want to wish you the best year yet – may the year 2014 be filled with adventure and happiness. If you need some inspiration on how to fill your days with outdoor adventure, consider one of the many adventures listed in our pages. Ultra-endurance cyclist Billy Koitzsch and his wife, Erica, are reviving the beloved IditaSport – read about that on Page 6. Or test your limits even further with the Iditarod Trail Invitational, as described by uber-cyclist Janice Tower on page 42.

Mike Halko shares with us his Bucket List of Alaska running races in Running Wild, Page 14. And freelance writer Lisa Maloney encourages us to get off trail via snowshoe on Page 10.

Once you’ve had your share of adventure, please share your stories with us. We love living vicariously through your adventures and are always looking for a good story to tell.

Happy 2014.

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