Denali Dispatch

Denali Dispatch is a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali.


Written by members of our staff, this journal is an opportunity to peek into life in Denali: notable events, wildlife sightings, conservation issues, recipes from our kitchen, and insights into the guest experience at Camp Denali. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.

Halloween in Alaska: Same, Same, but Different

November 08, 2018

Who says you can’t go trick or treating when it’s cold and dark? Or when the closest neighbor is sometimes a mile away? As usual, when you live in the subarctic, you adapt! Our winter office staff had many laughs swapping stories of Halloween’s festivities. Here are a few of the highlights.

Adaptation Number 1: Trunk-or-Treating

Think tailgating, Halloween style. A long-standing and much-loved tradition in Healy, AK, Trunk-or-Treating is a gathering of vehicles—often decorated beyond recognition as such—in the Community Center parking lot.  Kids go around trunk to trunk, instead of door to door.

Adaptation Number 2:  Safety in Numbers

Trick or treating is more fun with friends, right? In the McKinley Village community (about 20 miles south of Healy and home to Camp Denali’s very own winter office), kids often get together to make the rounds. For some local residents, this means that instead of a slow trickle of trick or treaters over the course of the evening, they get one giant marauding posse of all seven neighborhood kids at once. Without the need to ration, instead of helping each child carefully select the one, perfect piece of candy, kids are encouraged to take as much as they’d like! One could make an argument that we have to take in extra calories up here to stay warm, but still.

Adaptation Number 3: Amorphous costumes

No Halloween is complete without costumes, but no outdoor activity in October is complete without long underwear and down jackets! The best costumes allow for both creativity and warmth.

Adaptation Number 4: Efficient use of Resources

In our neighborhoods, the walk between houses is 15-20 minutes over a social trail through tundra; taking the roads is actually the least direct route. When resources are scarce and it takes over an hour to walk to your five closest neighbors, you have to plan carefully. Call ahead to find out who’s home, and more importantly, who’s purchased candy!  In the subarctic, you can’t waste precious calories looking for food where you won’t find any.

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