On foot, sled, skis, skates or fat tires
Alaska has something for everyone
The best thing about my friend Claire is that she makes me laugh. So, as we hiked briskly up Chugiak’s Bear Mountain, en route to catch up with our friends ahead, I luxuriated in my giggles because they helped me overlook the fact that my thighs were on fire and my heart rate was approaching the speed of light. The mountain goes straight up, but Claire, who is probably the most active person I’ve ever met, just keeps chattering away.
Halfway up the mountain, we stopped to look back at the view below and although I’ve been on this mountain more times than I can count, it’s taken my breath away yet again. I feel like a bird, perched high on some endless treetop, looking down at Knik Arm and the tiny dots that represent houses and buildings below. Behind me, the mountains seem to go on forever, and I’m reminded of why I’ve called this place home for the past 18 years.
While the view atop Bear Mountain might seem fit for a king, it is nothing compared to what Simon Evans describes in this month’s issue of Coast magazine (See pages ## for more). Heli-skiing is really the best and only way to see Alaska’s most remote and untouched mountain tops. From Haines to Seldovia to Valdez and beyond, there are countless opportunities to reach these magical places. And don’t feel intimidated. Evans expertly offers a primer on all of the best places to reach the most perfect powder in the state.
But that’s not all that is going on this month. February is a busy time for we Alaskans, who might be looking forward to spring but also should be taking advantage of the best snow of the year (let’s hope it improves over December and early January’s scant snowfall).
Alaska’s annual Fur Rendezvous festival is a highlight, beginning Feb. 22 with a full slate of activities. (See pages ## for details). Take part in the Frostbite Footrace, run with the reindeer (Or watch: It’s just as fun!), or take in the excitement of the sprint mushers as they race large teams of fast huskies through the streets of downtown.
Or take part in the nine-day Winter Bike Fest, hosted by Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage (See page # for more). That event features winter bike rides throughout Anchorage, as well as several opportunities to take in cycling movies at the Beartooth Theatrepub and other locations that will get you in the mood to ride.
Finally, there’s the newest gig in town, the Alaska Speedskating Club’s Tuesday Night race series, to be held at the Cuddy Family Midtown Park’s ice-skating oval. First time on skates? It doesn’t matter. This family-friendly event is a way to introduce yourself to the sport. See Page # for more on that.
Coming down from Bear Mountain, we descended from above treeline into the forest, and I got that sensation that fills me whenever I spend time outdoors. It’s what gets me out, time and again, despite the cold, rain, wind or whatever other inclement weather is tossed my way. My legs might have been tired, but my soul was soaring. It’s the drug that I’m addicted to, that feeling of appreciating anew this place we all call home.
I’m new to Alaska Coast in my role as managing editor, and that addiction to the outdoors is what drew me to this job. I love that Coast is spreading the gospel of the “great outdoors” to those who might have just arrived here, or to those who have not yet tasted the Kool-Aid. And believe me, there are plenty of flavors. Whether your idea of being outside is a quiet hike in the woods or launching yourself off a mountaintop from a helicopter, there is plenty of Alaska to go around.
Welcome to February. Spring is just around the corner, so enjoy this snow while you can.