Emily Schwing

For one month each fall, residents of interior Alaska don chest waders and splash through the clear, frigid water of the Chatanika River. With large homemade lanterns hanging from their necks and spears in their hands, the fishermen keep their eyes peeled for whitefish.

Lifelong Alaskan Cory Kuryla leads his best friend Dave Ensley and me down a dark forest trail.

"We make rookies take a bite out of the first fish they catch!" he says.

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.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Nearly two dozen dog sledding teams set out a week ago on a thousand mile race over some of the most remote territory in North America. The mushers have reached the halfway mark in the race. They're now in the Canadian Yukon. And Emily Schwing of member station KUAC has been following the race since its start in Fairbanks, Alaska.