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AK Beat: Veteran musher loses home to wildfire

Alaska Dispatch News

Musher's homestead destroyed in wildfire: Former Iditarod and Yukon Quest musher Dave Olesen lost his home in one of the many wildfires burning in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the CBC reported. The Northwest Territories is gripped in the worst wildfire season in decades, Canadian officials say. The fires have burned in several parts of the territory, including the remote Great Slave Lake area where Olesen and his wife, Kristin, settled 27 years ago and built a homestead that included a dog kennel, guest cabin and workshop. The site has been the headquarters for the family’s flying and guide company, Hoarfrost River Huskies Ltd. Olesen, a bush pilot, wrote about his experiences in a 1989 memoir, “Cold Nights, Fast Trails: Reflections of a Modern Dog Musher.” He also maintains a blog. Olesen suffered a different tragedy in the past when he lost 20 sled dogs in a 1993 training accident; the animals fell through broken lake ice and drowned. Correction: An earlier version of this item included an incorrect name for Kristin Olesen.

Kodiak disturbances end in injuries: Two scuffles on Kodiak Island ended with one fisherman stabbed and another with facial injuries, though neither of the men opted to press charges, according to a Kodiak Police Department news release. Shortly after 2 a.m. on Friday, Kodiak police got a call from 22-year-old Johnan Dechance, who reported Dillon Hildebrand stabbed him in the leg during an altercation. Police say they located Hildebrand by the St. Herman Harbor public restrooms. Officers noted several injuries to the alleged stabber’s face and a cut across the tip of his nose. Hildebrand told police he stabbed Dechance in self-defense, which they later confirmed. Dechance was also at St. Herman, waiting at the end of a ramp. He had “extensive bleeding from his right leg with multiple stab wounds, which pierced his denim jeans,” according to the news release. Both men were taken to Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center for treatment. During a subsequent investigation, Dechance admitted he’d been stabbed while holding Hildebrand to the ground and assaulting him. Police also determined the men fought earlier in the morning. Officers had already contacted them in an alley behind Key Bank. Neither Hildebrand nor Dechance wanted to press charges and the men went their separate ways, police say.

From Seward to New York City, the long way: In what it’s billing as the first luxury cruise through the recently thawing waterway, Crystal Cruises announced a 2016 voyage through the Northwest Passage. The monthlong cruise in the vessel Crystal Serenity will visit Kodiak, Dutch Harbor and Nome in Alaska, before entering Canadian waters, with ports of call in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, as well as Greenland before returning the United States at Bar Harbor, Maine. There will also be opportunities for activities ashore, “from Zodiac landings, kayaking in protected bays, to trekking the tundra with a professional guide,” and the company touts the potential for sighting rare wildlife. For safety's sake, the ship will be followed by a second vessel: “While Crystal Serenity is experienced in operating in some of the world’s most extreme locations, such as Antarctica and Alaska, an escort vessel will accompany the voyage carrying with it ‘adventure equipment’ including a platform for wilderness landings, a helicopter and more.” Prices for the voyage, which goes on sale to the general public in September, begin at $19,755.

Surfing the Arctic: Surfers have long known about Alaska’s surf waves, but Norway’s Lofoten Islands, at 68 degrees north, can stake a claim to being an even farther north than Alaska hotspots such as Homer or Yakutat. Lofoten also has surf school, which claims to be the world’s most northerly, as Britain’s The Guardian notes, in a piece that traces the brief history of Arctic surfing in Norway. Can’t get on a plane to Norway? Gizmodo has a mini-documentary with footage of professional surfers on the Arctic waves.