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I'm a Midwesterner who visited Alaska for the first time. Here are 8 things that surprised me._freckle removal san diego

2022-07-06 05:37:46 Form:Technology freckle - professional freckle author: click:454
Abby Armato·7 min read
On the left, Abby holding a cup outside in the snow in Alaska. On the right, a view of the mountains and dogs from the sled.
I visited Alaska to see the start of the Iditarod.William Sheahan; Abby Armato
  • I visited Alaska for the first time to be at the start of the Iditarod, an annual dog-sled race.

  • Even though we didn't see the Northern Lights, our journey was full of wonderful surprises.

  • There are mountains just miles away from downtown, and the local brewery scene was impressive.

Alaska in the winter was full of surprises.

Kids skating on a frozen lake with mountains directly in the background
Kids skating on a frozen lagoon in Anchorage, Alaska.William Sheahan

I went to Anchorage, Alaska, in the winter to follow my oldest friend's 20-year dream to be at the start of the Iditarod, the annual Alaskan dog-sled race that runs roughly 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome.

As a Midwesterner living in Seattle, Washington, I was excited to see Alaska and I wrongfully assumed our trip would have lots of cold, dark downtime. It didn't.

Anchorage and the areas around it that we visited were awesome.

Although we didn't see the Northern Lights and only spied one baby moose, here are some things that surprised me about visiting Alaska in the winter for the first time:

The mountains feel even closer than I thought they'd be.

a view of snowy downtown anchorage with mountains in the background
The Chugach Mountains behind the buildings of downtown Anchorage, Alaska.Will Oldham

Anchorage is sandwiched between the Chugach Mountains to the east and the mudflats of Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm to the west.

I'm from Chicago, Illinois, so any mountain is a novel sight, but having this range just 13 miles from downtown was stunning.

They were beautiful and constant companions during our adventures downtown. We stopped in the middle of a cross-section more than once just to stare at them — especially at dusk when the sunset painted the white peaks with brilliant oranges and pinks.

The snow didn't stop people from being outdoors, but we needed microspikes to get around on the ice.

Several people braving the cold in snow gear and walking inside a building
The snowy entrance to Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop, a coffee shop and bakery connected to a plant, produce, and liquor store in downtown Anchorage, Alaska.Abby Armato

I had anticipated ice and snow but was surprised by the sheer amount of it, plus how many people were out embracing it.

The walking trail near our lodging had a constant rush of people out on their skis or fat-tire bikes. A patch of a lagoon had been turned into an ice rink, and some brave souls even used the frozen water as a shortcut to the other side of town.

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