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Alli Harvey

During a normal snowy winter, I swap the running shoes I keep in the back of the truck for a hodgepodge of planks, boots, and poles. Although the set up for skiing is more complicated than it is for running, I gladly retrain myself to operate the system while remaining (mostly) upright. After all, there’s no greater feeling than gliding along the trails for miles on slippery snow.

This year is different. Skiing is the exception rather than the rule due to poor snow conditions, and the weather is relatively warm more often than not. I don’t run because of the health benefits. I run to stay sane. Running is a very easy shortcut to a badly needed mid-winter high. It’s cheap, no fancy gear is required, and it’s doable even on the ice and, yes, in the lovely January rain...

Alli Harvey

On Jan. 2, I was hit with a clinical condition known as being sad the holidays are over, with a touch of light deprivation. Many Alaskans face this malady every year. Smart people adapt over time through the generations -- or they buy big “other-end-of-the-tunnel” white full-spectrum lights at Costco.

Others book a direct flight to Hawaii.

My husband and I hopped in the car and drove north last weekend from Anchorage to Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs.

Perhaps this seems like a counterintuitive way to battle winter blues. Why drive nine hours so we could very slowly stroll around a giant outdoor bathtub with at least 20 other strangers, possibly when it’s minus-30 outside?...

Alli Harvey

I’ve been doing penance for my bad behavior during the holidays. I massaged kale and consumed it. I vacuumed, drank a bunch of water with lemon in it (helps convince me it’s worth drinking), folded some laundry, and went for a run.

Finally, like many of you, I made some resolutions. During the beginning of 2015, the darkest time of the year, it felt nice to set my own light out ahead. Here’s my advice for how to achieve some outdoors-oriented goals you may have established...

Alli Harvey

Last week I paid $35 to reserve the cabin at Crow Pass six months in advance. This payment meant more than a normal online transaction. It was a promise to myself that although it’s the darkest time of the year now, the longest day will eventually come. I felt giddy and shared a calendar invite with my husband that read “Play Hooky @ Crow Pass.”

Now is the time to make summer solstice reservations for public use cabins across Alaska. If you’re like me, you often visit the reservation sites too late to score a good cabin. It pays to plan and, luckily, with hundreds of cabins to choose across Alaska, there are still plenty available if you book now...

Alli Harvey

Even the most relentlessly positive people in my life are showing signs of stress about this ripoff winter. Many of us wake up late and depressed, watching the daylight trickle down to solstice, marking a mid-point, while there is not enough snow on the ground to really play in.

Alaskans complain about making it through an intense winter only to get a lackluster summer, but right now I feel that winter isn’t doing its part. Alaska is a place, after all, of extremes, and you need one to balance the other...

Alli Harvey

Dear Alli,

My boyfriend and I want to become more adventurous outdoorspeople, and he has proposed attempting winter camping next month (snow or not!). Problem is, I have no idea where to start. I have minimal experience and he has minimal gear.

Do you have any suggestions for "winter camping lite"? I think we can borrow the basics of winter sleeping bags, cookstove, etc, but where should we go? I'm hoping for a place with a cabin or yurt at the end, but with enough of a hike in that we feel like we've worked off our hot toddies at the end of the night (i.e., more of a trek than Manitoba).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

- Gimme Shelter

Dear G.S.,...

Alli Harvey

People who like to play outdoors are often as finicky about their gear as a picky child at the dinner table. Left wondering what she will like or what he needs, well-meaning holiday gift-givers err on the side of caution and buy an REI gift card.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But there are lots of ways to buy or make a gift for the “outdoorsy” person in your life and get it right. Here’s my list, organized by category...

Alli Harvey

Every morning and evening late into this fall, I scanned trees in my neighborhood of Government Hill for bears. Sometimes, in the dark, I clapped or sang loudly as I walked home.

When I told people about this, their response was typically one of two things. Either they’d get a faraway look in their eye, and say, “Government Hill. It’s so close to downtown, but it feels so far, like an island. Nice neighborhood, though.” Or, they’d look surprised. “Bears?! In Government Hill? Really?”...

Alli Harvey

To date, it’s a snowless November and like many Alaskans, I am adjusting poorly to my new normal. I wake up groggy, late, and in the dark. I stand for minutes in front of my closet wondering how to combine layer upon layer of clothing into an ensemble an adult should wear. I begrudgingly carry around a hat and gloves, until I lose them and wish I’d had those clips you put on your toddler’s jacket to keep things attached.

Still, I found $20 and a Burt’s Bees chapstick in the down coat I pulled up from the basement.

As the cold and darkness settles in around me, and the snow takes its sweet time getting to Anchorage, I try to find a silver lining...

Alli Harvey

My parents made sure I had swimming lessons. As a child I learned many strokes and techniques, from the crawl, breaststroke, backstroke, and even the beginnings of the difficult butterfly stroke. I was pretty good. However, by the time I reached early adulthood, I’d forgotten everything except the doggy paddle.

Not easily deterred, I took my doggy paddling as far as it would go after reading about the benefits of swimming. I furiously paddled across pools in Switzerland during my stint there as an English teacher...

Alli Harvey