In Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, the "Last Great Race on Earth" begins.
Sixty-seven sled dog teams will start the 998-mile Iditarod race across the barren, frigid and unforgiving land. In this year's competition, there are a handful of first-time racers — but those aren't the only rookies.
One is veterinarian Greg Reppas, whose job is to ensure the dogs are healthy throughout the race.
Refrigerators, foam buoys and even ketchup bottles are piling up on Alaska's beaches. Almost two years after the devastating Japanese tsunami, its debris and rubbish are fouling the coastlines of many states — especially in Alaska.
At the state's Montague Island beach, the nearly 80 miles of rugged wilderness looks pristine from a helicopter a few thousand feet up. But when you descend, globs of foam come into view.
The plummeting mercury in Alaska this time of year doesn't keep bikers inside. More and more of them are heading to recreational trails and to the office on "fat bikes." They look like mountain bikes on steroids, with tires wider than most people's arms.
Kevin Breitenbach runs the bike shop at Beaver Sports in Alaska's second-largest city. Aboard a fat bike, he makes his way down a trail that winds through a forest as wet, quarter-sized snowflakes drop from the sky. Visibility is low, and the snow hides the roughest spots on the trail.
Paul Salopek is already a well-traveled journalist — a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who has spent most of the past two decades roaming across Africa, Asia, the Balkans and Latin America.
This, apparently, has not sated his wanderlust. So now he's in a dusty village in Ethiopia's Rift Valley, ready to launch a seven-year, 21,000-mile journey on foot that will take him from Africa, across the Middle East and through Asia, over to Alaska and down the Western edge of the Americas until he hits the southern tip of Chile.