APU skiers train at Hatcher Pass

Skiers from Alaska Pacific University get in some distance training at Hatcher Pass, which is located in the Talkeetna Mountains, northwest of Palmer.

Toiling on the Alcan, back in the day

The newest video from our sister publication The MILEPOST <http://www.themilepost.com/> features the construction of the "ALCAN" Highway. Work on the pioneer road officially began on March 9, 1942. As you can imagine, working conditions were extreme: "Working 7 days a week, they endured mosquitoes and black flies in summer and below zero temperatures in winter. And the farther away from base camp you were, the harder the living conditions."


By Allison Hovanec

After getting hitched at the Anchorage courthouse this summer, my husband and I pondered an out-of-state honeymoon. It was early August and the weather had turned favorable again, offering a respite from dreary rain that had stretched on for weeks. 

Read more: 'Homermooners'

A map of the real Alaska

map of Alaska

We got a kick out of this Alaska map from Williwaw Publishing Company in Haines, which alludes tongue-in-cheek to the afterthought, out-of-rightful-proportion treatment of Alaska by many map publishers in placing our great state in a small box off the coast of California on maps of the “United States of America.”

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Winter Hiking

Audra Matolka enjoys a chilly day on Bodenburg Butt.

Exploring chilly new vistas

Hiking is something Audra Matolka has long enjoyed, but until two years ago, she had never tried heading out on trails in the fall and winter months.

“I wanted to keep active and my friend convinced me to do it,” said Matolka, who, until recently, lived in Palmer. “It had never occurred to me to do that. At first I didn’t want to; I thought it sounded really scary, didn’t think it was safe.” Then, she said jokingly, “I went (hiking) when I realized my friends didn’t die.”

Read more: Winter Hiking

Young Men, Listen Up! And Women, Too!

Author tells of adventure in the Last Frontier |

9781462403721Erwin Hertz Sr.'s bookThere’s nothing like Alaska to excite the adventurous spirit of a young man—and “make a man” out of any person who is up for the challenge. Even for short stints of work or pleasure, time in Alaska is life-altering. The wilderness forces choices and change—grow up or get beat up—or literally get eaten up!

My unpredictable journey in this beautiful state began when I came out of the Navy in my early 20s. I live here still, until only God knows when. The magnificence of Alaska is immeasurable, the need for knowledge of safety measures essential, and the opportunity for adventure unending.     

In 1961, my buddies and I left Montana to drive over the ruts, and eat up the dust of the old Alcan Highway. Sixteen hundred miles later, we finally arrived in Haines. Once I set my eyes on the glistening waters and the mountains that rose up above them, I never went back. Haines’ population is about 2,400 people in the summer, and about half that in the winter. I love my secluded Southeastern Alaska home. I know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but if you’re seeking outdoor benefits and a simpler quality of life, you might want to try it.  

Read more: Young Men, Listen...

‘No Experience Necessary’

Mom and daughter have fun, but wet, adventure in Valdez

Miscellaneous-041Kayaking adventures in Valdez

In August 2010, my daughter Susan and I bought passage on the Chenega ferry from Whittier to Valdez, and loaded my Toyota Venza below deck. The three-hour trip onboard was relaxing, and the scenery beautiful and serene. I thought, “This is the way to travel.” We didn’t have much of a plan other than to find a camping spot and explore Valdez.

Camping turned out to be difficult because of unremitting rain and the fact that we forgot one of the sleeping bags, and the poles to the tent.
After we secured our campsite at one of the RV Parks, Susan and I went for a walk along the small boat harbor and found a tour company offering a guided-excursion kayaking Valdez Lake and hiking on the Valdez Glacier. The enterprise advertised “No Experience Necessary.” Susan and I went in and signed up for the 5-6 hour tour starting the following day at 10 a.m.

Valdez Glacier, as it turns out, is a fresh water glacier and does not calve like glaciers in saltwater.

After arriving at Valdez Lake in a van with a trailer of inflatable kayaks trailing behind, our small tour group received some guidance on safety and maneuvering the two-man the inflatable boats forward and backward to work our way off ice shelves, if we happened to run up on one and get stuck. The lake is at least 600 feet deep, but the water was cloudy so we couldn’t get a feel for the lake’s depth. 

Read more: ‘No Experience...

'Alaska Dear, I'm Comin' Home'

Singer/Songwriter makes way across Alaska

Alaska Mountains Photo

Emma Hill takes break from playing music to take in the view of the Chugach Mountain Range. Photo by Eric Neet.

There is something about the back seat of my dad's Cessna 206—the loud hum of the engine, the birds eye view of Merrill Pass—that has always been a source of inspiration for me. I have written many a song from that spot, looking down over endless sprays of snow-capped spruce or out across gold and burgundy tundra on a blue sky August day.

My name is Emma Hill, and I’m a 25-year-old singer/songwriter. I grew up in Alaska, and I live there now. I wrote my song, “Alaska, Dear, I'm Comin' Home” in the fall of 2010 on a day just like the one described above. We were about 10 minutes out from landing in the village I grew up in: Sleetmute, population 100. As my dad circled for our approach, I gazed out over the Kuskokwim hills, speckled with fall's colors like something out of a Fred Machetanz painting. It was in that moment I truly realized my good fortune to call this place home.

For four years, I had been living in Portland, Ore., juggling school and music. While I didn't know it at the time, as I was scribbling out the final stanza of “Alaska, Dear,” I was also planting a seed deep within myself that would, over a year's time, blossom into an overwhelming desire to move back to my home state.

The five years I spent in Oregon were wonderful and life-changing. I met my bandmate and best friend, Bryan Daste, in early 2007. We went on to co-produce and release three full-length albums. By the end of 2010, I’d completed a six-week tour in Europe and was spending so much time on the road that I'd thrown my belongings into storage and was living out of my suitcase. But my heart screamed for home, my home. After a lengthy Alaskan tour in summer of 2011, I packed a few prized possessions into the back of my Subaru and drove the 2,400 miles north to Anchorage.

Read more: 'Alaska Dear, I'm...

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