Alaska’s not a place you travel across, but into. And the deeper you find yourself, the more you get it — the grit and the adventure. Alaska’s reputation among locals as “the last free state” underscores the sense that you can go anywhere and do anything, and you don’t need a reason, only an urge. That feeling I chased this past winter as I hopped aboard a “snow machine” (as they call it up there) with Wilderness Collective and rode hundreds of miles along the famed Iditarod dogsled trail.
The lesser-known trails are many, carved out by locals who use them to commute. Long and largely lonely, they snake their way through miles of spruce trees and swamps iced over. It’s not easy riding, especially for the novice. The rough terrain tends to get its way in Alaska’s bush country, as does the cold. But on occasion, nature opens its arms, and the trails clear into thousand-acre meadows, with nothing but clear winter air between you and the mountains. So you haul ass and carry on, because at that point you’ve sniffed why people get off-grid out here, where the roads end with the bullshit and the wild draws you in.
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