A local reporter has been traveling around Alaska for some time, and shares some important lessons learned. It's worth a read, especially as Arctic air blankets the state.
It was a trip of a lifetime, but my thoughts, upon reflection, were much like those of the man in Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire." I was ready for a week of adventure but not the surprise fear I felt in those final few hours along the river when overcome by hypothermia ...
The difference between minus-10 cold and minus-75 cold was best described to me when I first moved to a remote village south of McGrath. "Cold is cold," one of the townspeople told me. "The difference between minus 10 and minus 50 or minus 75 is the speed at which you lose your ability to do simple tasks."
The time you have to build a fire determines whether or not to gather ample wood to keep the fire going once it's started or build a proper base to allow for melting snow to drain away. If you are wet or alone in minus-50-degree weather, your fingers may stop working before you can strike a match.
The lessons in "To Build a Fire" come (and are ignored) in order of importance. First, the wolf dog knows that real cold is no time for traveling. Second, an old man had told him that, after 50 below, he should travel with a companion. Third, at 75 below, the man knows he cannot fail in his first attempt to build a fire.