Photo by @katieorlinsky // Captured #withGalaxy Note8, produced with @samsungmobileusa // Dogs rest inside the sled of musher Chuck Schaeffer in Kiana, Alaska during the Kobuk 440 Sled Dog Race. When a dog is tired or injured along the trail, mushers will “drop” them by carrying them in their sled bags back to a checkpoint where they are then flown by charter plane to the finish line.
For the last four years I have been documenting how climate change impacts the traditional way of life in the Alaskan Arctic. And for just about that same amount of time I have been photographing my one and only favorite sport- dog mushing. I have always dreamed of following the Kobuk 440, known as Alaska’s toughest sled dog race above the Arctic circle. The race route begins and ends in Kotzebue and travels through the Inupiaq native villages of Noorvik, Selawik, Ambler, Shungnak, Kobuk and Kiana. While the race is one of the premier sporting events in Alaska, it is also an opportunity to bring people together to celebrate Inupiaq culture, way of life, heritage and respect for nature. The Kobuk 440 race brings my two main photographic focuses together, and last week I had the opportunity to follow the entire 440 mile race trail by snowmobile, traveling through some of the most beautiful, fragile wilderness in Alaska. It was quite the adventure, and you can follow along behind the scenes on my Instagram stories at @katieorlinsky!