So I was supposed to teach in a rural village for a week as part of my teacher certification program. I was slated to go to Kiana (pop. 401) with two other guys from the program. Kiana is 60 miles east of Kotzebue in northwest Alaska. We even went to Sam's and stocked up on freshies to bring out to the teachers and staff of Kiana school. But about 10 hours before we were supposed to leave, stinking Mt Redoubt decided to let off some more steam and FAA closed the Anchorage airport. (more volcanic photos and info can be found at AVO)Bummer! I have not been off of the road system in Alaska save for my undergraduate research (which was just published by my former advisor!) near Prince of Wales Island in southeast, and a handful of not-very-far-off-the-road hiking trips.
As for the northern latitudes, I'm amazed that people have been able to survive for so long in such an unforgiving environment. For anyone interested in the history and science of Arctic survival - mostly humans and other animals - I recommend Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. Certainly a western perspective, but highly informative, a good read and winner of the National Book Award.