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Loren Holmes,Megan Edge
More than 300 people took the trek up messy and very muddy Arctic Valley Road Saturday afternoon to participate in the 10th Merry Marmot Festival, a fundraiser and celebration of spring to wrap up the winter season.
Kim Sunée
Despite the constant possibility of a rogue snowfall temporarily turning Alaska's spring right back to winter, now's the time to start clearing last year's catch out of the freezer before the summer days arrive and replenishing the supply becomes a priority.
Tara Young
Nome Stories is a multimedia project created by artists Katie Basile and Erica Rudy. Inspired by projects like One in 8 Million, StoryCorps, and Boise Voices, the series was designed to teach multimedia skills to students at the Anvil City Science Academy while capturing an oral history of the Northwest Alaska hub community of Nome. Teachers Todd Hindman, Lisa Leeper and Teresa Hargung worked with fifth through eighth graders who came to the project with a wide range of video and audio production experience. The intent is to celebrate local people who are connected to the places they live in meaningful ways. From a boatmaker to a painter to a King Islander who grew up in Nome and then moved back as an adult, all of the subjects have a strong connection to the community.Nome is a tight-knit community with a diverse group of residents from many different ethnicities and Alaska Native tribes. The harsh environment can be isolating but also tends to spur creativity. Many artists and craftsmen inhabit this gold rush town.Basile and Rudy say they feel perceptions of Alaska are skewed by reality TV, and they wanted to present an alternate narrative. “So much of the media we come in contact with is either sensationalized or completely fictitious. I think we tend to make heroes out of celebrities who don't necessarily look or act authentically. I'd like to see Alaskan youth exposed to media and creating media that is representative of real people in their communities,” says Basile.The production tasks were divided, with the younger students conducting the interviews and the older kids running audio and editing video. The students used point-and-shoot cameras, iMovie, and Garage Band to shoot and edit the pieces. The interviews were recorded at KNOM radio station, and the website was designed by Rudy with input from the students. 
Loren Holmes
To make this version of the operetta "Die Fledermaus" really Alaskan, Anchorage Opera worked in exotic dancers, ice road truckers, troopers and politicians, including one Democrat recently turned Republican. 
Loren Holmes,Megan Edge
What happens if the Port of Anchorage were compromised by a natural disaster? A collaborative military exercise is orchestrating a plan -- just in case.
Tara Young
Filmmaker Luc Mehl and his friend Derek Collins decided to ski from Aniak to Dillingham through Wood-Tikchik State Park in southwestern Alaska. Their 250-mile route took 14 days to complete and was completely self-sufficient. What's more, they only spent $105 on airport fees and white gas.The trip was a way for the two friends to traverse the landscapes of their youths. Luc grew up in McGrath, a remote village with a population of 500 off the road system on the Kuskokwim River, and Derek grew up in Dillingham and in the village of Aleknagik at the southern end of the Wood-Tikchik lakes.Since it's been such a dry winter, Mehl was concerned about snow conditions, and he put out a call to friends to see if there was enough snow to ski the route. According to Mehl's website, "Alan Dick, a family friend from Lime Village, told me about the cat-track to Cripple Creek mine. Eventually a low-snow plan emerged ... we’d put tech ski bindings on Nordic ice skates for the Aniak River, then jump up to the cat-track once there was enough snow."The highlight of their adventure was ice skating 50 miles of the route on Nordic skates. It was an epic adventure on a route through the raw wilderness of the Alaska landscape.
Krestia DeGeorge
The upstate New York home of William H. Seward, the secretary of state responsible for purchasing Alaska, is an outpost of Alaskana in the Northeast.
Laurel Andrews
Alaska's most famous feline has garnered a world-wide following, but at 17 years old, Talkeetna's unofficial mayor Stubbs may be taking a break from Nagley's General Store when tourist season picks up come summer.
Alex DeMarban
Instead of rebuilding on higher ground in the coming years, as other villages are trying to do, the Northwest Alaska community of Shaktoolik has decided to stay put and fight the Bering Sea --  hopefully for decades.
Tara Young
For the fishermen and women who supply the catch for the Sitka Conservation Society's Fish to Schools program, the work is about more than just a job.
Tara Young

Challenge Alaska has been teaching adaptive skiing and snowboarding to disabled adults and children for 33 years. Located at the base of Alyeska Mountain in Girdwood, Alaska, the building has a cozy familial feel that belies its nature as a cutting edge facility for an adaptive recreation program. Challenge Alaska Ski and Snowboard School instructor Jeremy Anderson says the organization is prepared to work with would-be skiers and snowboarders of every ability and comfort level:“Anybody that walks through these doors, gets wheelchaired through these doors, or gets carried through these doors, or happens to stumble in this building, we can get them sliding in the snow, with any piece of equipment that we have. And sometime it’s no equipment.” First-timers start out with an assessment and are started out on any of a number of different kinds of equipment “depending on their attitude, their confidence, and what their goals are.” The program accommodates a range of disabilities: physical, developmental, cognitive, as well as warriors back from service and some youth at risk. They also have a visiting athlete program. This year Jeff Heinz of Michigan made his first trip to Alaska to spend the week at Challenge. Heinz was paralyzed in a motocross accident just a couple of years ago but is now back to ripping up the mountain with friends back home. He first heard about Challenge at a race in Michigan, and within a day of skiing Alyeska, he was tackling the North Face in his sitski with speed and grace. This year, approximately 250 registered Challenge volunteers will put in 14,000 hours with the program. Some instructors only come to work the hill twice a year, other every weekend, and some every day. “The fact is, everybody deserves a chance to slide on the snow,” Anderson says. “And if you believe that -- and all of our Challenge family believes that -- you just go out and try to get people feeling what we feel when we’re out there. Basically we’re using skiing as a vehicle to promote social skills, confidence building, and physical fitness. And all that comes full circle back around, and you’ll see people doing better in school, finding new hobbies, being motivated when they’re not on the hill.”Members feel like one big extended family. One March weekend found Anna Boltz, 7, and her gal pals having a slumber party at the facility, with karaoke, a game of Headbanz, cookies, and waffles for breakfast. The party was co-hosted by able-bodied Jazzy Golly, 11; her dad, Tracy Golly, has been a dedicated volunteer ski instructor with Challenge Alaska for 17 years, and now Jazzy is training to become an instructor herself. Tracy Golly has spent the last two years teaching Logan, 7, who is non-verbal autistic, how to ski. When Logan first arrived at Challenge he refused to even put ski boots on. But after a season of patience and persistence Golly was able to get him up the hill, and even to utter a rare expression for Logan: “happy.” A former volunteer, Ira Edwards, was working Ranger for Alaska State Parks, when a leaning tree fell on him and shattered his spine. Now Edwards is a Challenge client, currently prepping for next month's extreme skiing and snowmachine competition, Arctic Man. And then there's Randy Finch, who brings upbeat energy to the group. Finch says when he tells people about his winters skiing Alyeska they think it’s about the physical act, but for him, “it’s about being with friends, helping people on the mountain and keeping the energy level going, and keeping people pumped up about (skiing), and going out on the mountain and skiing with them.”“And they let me be me,” Finch said. “There’s no restrictions, there’s no barriers here. They take me for who I am, and I’m a real crazy cat sometimes. But it’s means the world to me. It’s something I hope to be part of for a very long time.”Watch this video on Vimeo or Youtube, and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more great videos. Contact Alaska Dispatch videographer Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Tara Young
Outdoor superstore Cabela's is finally establishing a brick-and-mortar presence on the Last Frontier, with a 100,000-square-foot retail outlet opening April 10. Columnist Craig Medred, the outdoorsman with an opinion about everything, couldn't wait that long. Come along on a sneak peek of the new store as he checks out hunting, fishing and camping gear, suggests additions to the onsite fish tank, and peppers a very patient Cabela's representative with questions about the store's taxidermy displays.Watch this video on Vimeo or YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.

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