Winter Experiences

Alaska and winter are practically synonymous. The first images that probably pop into your head when you think about “the last frontier” are snow-capped mountains, stunning glaciers, and such wintry activities as heli-skiing, snowshoeing, and viewing the Northern Lights. Then there’s dogsledding and the famous Iditarod—“The Last Great Race on Earth.” With the “Ceremonial Start” the first Saturday in March each year, the race is the ultimate test of man and beast as teams of 12 to 16 dogs and their intrepid mushers battle wild Alaska over 1,150 miles from Anchorage to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast. With portions of the trail having been in use for hundreds of years—peaking during the early 1900s, when dog sleds delivered mail, food, firewood, mining equipment, and other needed supplies across the Interior and western coast—the race is as historic as it is exhilarating. Though the first “sporting event” wasn’t held until 1967, most consider the 1925 “serum run,” during which teams of mushers relayed a package of much-needed diphtheria serum to remote Nome, to have been the birth of the race. It’s the perfect tale to explain the origins of a race now close to the hearts of all Alaskans—full of nobility, daring and determination.