Craig Medred

One public-use cabin is already under construction along the Iditarod Trail, another is planned for this summer, and $400,000 in federal stimulus funding is on the way to pay for at least four more, the trail's chief manager said Monday.

Kevin Keeler, Iditarod National Historic Trail administrator for the federal Bureau of Land Management, said it's all part of an effort to make Alaska's most famous trail into a real trail...

Craig Medred

SKOOKUM GLACIER -- Life began anew last week. You could feel it in the sun that baked the graywacke and shale of the surrounding Chugach and Kenai mountains.

If you failed to notice, you live too far removed from the land. If you somehow overlooked the transformation because you were living in the joy of the moment, out there soaking up the heat that has seemed so long missing from the sun, you are excused.

Many ancients worshiped the sun. They knew more than they understood.

The sun is the energy that drives our planet. Forget oil or gas or coal or wind or hydropower or any of those other fuels we normally think of as energy. Without the sun, none of them exist.

Alaska is a living reminder of the power of the star that lights our world...

Craig Medred

After a cliffhanger of a plane landing in the Talkeetna Mountains earlier this month, 21-year-old Matthew "Jake" Soplanda of Anchor Point and a skiing buddy managed to climb away from Soplanda's dated, single-engine Taylorcraft as it hung perched over a 1,500-foot drop.

Embarrassed by the botched touchdown that nearly turned deadly, all Soplanda wanted was to recover the airplane from the teeth of the rocky ridge that held it so he could fly again.

Given the ubiquitous nature of digital cameras and the Internet, however, he got more.

A photo shot from another aircraft that overflew the precariously perched airplane has made Soplanda's Taylorcraft -- if not the pilot himself -- something of an Internet sensation among small plane pilots...

Craig Medred

What have the anonymous cowards of the Internet wrought?

Even those who've never surfed the Web can't have missed hearing about the extra security added at Colony Middle School in Palmer last week after a nameless, faceless, virtual mob launched a jihad on students there.

The crime perpetuated by these eighth-graders?

A couple among them harassed a moose. They yelled at it, maybe even threw some sticks and stones. And then the moose ran off and died...

Craig Medred

WASILLA -- Though no one knows what killed a yearling moose found dead outside Colony Middle School on Monday, two students stand accused of contributing to its death by taunting the animal after finding it on school grounds during a physical education class, according to Alaska State Troopers and school officials.

After allegedly being harassed by the students, the moose became frightened, rammed itself into a fence outside the school near Palmer, and then died, according to troopers. The animal's death has provoked a flurry of comments to school officials and prompted questions about the supervision of students during class...

S.J. Komarnitsky,Craig Medred

The toilets should work better at Denali National Park and Preserve thanks to President Barack Obama's federal stimulus spending.

The Alaska regional office of the National Park Service announced Wednesday it is getting $6.3 million in stimulus money to start work this summer to replace that park's wastewater treatment facility and rehabilitate the sewage collection system.

Denali, along the George Parks Highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, is the most popular road-accessible national park in the state.

Money to upgrade the plumbing is a portion of about $750 million going to nearly 800 park projects nationwide under the terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to the Park Service...

Craig Medred

For the first time in 18 years, the climbing season on Mount McKinley opens with the absence of a high-altitude helicopter on standby in case of emergency.

National Park Service officials who oversee climbing on the 20,320-foot peak in Denali National Park and Preserve blame contracting problems.

They said last week they are trying to work out a temporary arrangement to have a Wasilla-based Eurocopter AS350 B3 Astar on call and hoping, if need be, the Army at Fort Wainwright can help out with its CH-47 Chinooks.

The B3 Astar has a ceiling of 20,000 feet, just a few hundred feet shy of the summit of North America's tallest peak. And the Chinooks have gone as high as 19,600 feet to perform rescues on McKinley...

Craig Medred

If you are coming to Anchorage this summer, be afraid -- beary, beary afraid.

If you live here, go inside now. Bar the doors. Lock the windows. And start loading the guns.

It's spring and time for "Bear Attack!"

Discovery Channel, the cable TV network, was all over this last week on its Alaska Week, where everything about the 49th state became X-treme!

Here was the "Bear Attack!" promo:

"In a short time, three people are viciously mauled by a bear in the Anchorage area, and many more have dangerously close encounters. Could one aggressive bear be responsible for all these attacks? What is increasing the rate of bear-human urban encounters?"...

Craig Medred

As snows melt, pregnant moose grow increasingly cranky, and bears begin to emerge hungry from their winter dens, Anchorage city officials have decided it's time to hire someone to police the Big, Wild Life.

The big questions are who and how, given that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game contends the municipality lacks the legal authority to manage state wildlife.

Eagle River assemblyman Bill Starr, who spearheaded a resolution calling on the city manager to hire a wildlife manager, said he isn't concerned about care of wildlife. He's concerned about public safety.

"The alternative is do what?" Starr asked Wednesday. "Nothing?''...

Craig Medred,James Halpin

Yancy Flair lived fast and happy until his death beneath an avalanche in Johnson Pass on the Kenai Peninsula March 28.

Friends say the 35-year-old Flair was a great guy who took pleasure in the big, wild life of Alaska. Others paint a somewhat different picture, a portrait of man who thought a lot of rules didn't really apply to him.

Court records show Flair had a lengthy history of citations for reckless driving, speeding, driving while intoxicated, driving without a license, driving unregistered vehicles, driving without insurance, running red lights, failing to yield and more.

A graduate of Bartlett High School, he spent almost his whole life in Anchorage, and this pattern of living life on the edge goes back almost to the beginning...

Craig Medred