TODAY   |  August 30, 2011

Al conquers the great outdoors in Alaska

TODAY’s Al Roker gets his taste of the Alaska life by spending a day visiting the beautiful Knik Glacier, giving a try at dogsledding and trying to catch some fresh salmon.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> al has criss-crossed the country over the years traveling to almost every single corner of america. but, until recently there was one place he had never been.

>> that's right. alaska is over twice the size of texas, with unforgettable memories of every stop. earlier this summer when we were on our lend a hand tour, i visited the last frontier, my 50th state and got a taste of the alaskan spirit. it is a land of unparalleled wonder, majestic peaks and wildlife. alaska is america's last frontier. a picture postcard at every turn. first up, the glacier, 26 miles of ice formations and distance a helicopter ride away. the vastness of the landscape is awe inspiring. our guide of the day peter, he runs the river lodge and has been coming here for 24 years. what brought you to the glacier?

>> look around you. big glacier. we don't have them at home.

>> reporter: he came to the right place. this is just one of about 100,000 glaciers in alaska . what we found on this day was a rare moulin, a shaft flown by surface water percolating through the ice. this was a big one.

>> we start measuring at 70 meters. it may be, you know, much more deep. we don't know. it's deep and dark and cold.

>> reporter: after a fresh drink of glacier water -- that's a good stuff.

>> it is.

>> oh, yeah.

>> reporter: it was back in the chopper off to try another alaskan mainstay. further up, dog mushing. iditarod racer is here to show me the ropes. what do you think the most popular misconception about dogsledding?

>> that it's cruel and that the dogs don't like doing it. you see how these guys love to run.

>> let's do it.

>> all right. this is the handlebar. important one. rule number one in mushing, never let go.

>> the most important part, to me, the seat. time to go. mush! whoa! yee! oh, my gosh! oh! from dogs and snow to the wild blue yonder , it's off to a more serene location for an up close view of wildlife and some nature viewing at the lodge. when people come out here who haven't been out for the first time, what is that like?

>> i think people are surprised by the vastness of it, and it's a little bit incomprehensible to some people.

>> reporter: and unforgettable.

>> we've seen a bald eagle , we've seen a black bear . pretty good.

>> we're getting there.

>> just catch a salmon.

>> reporter: even though the salmon were plentiful, i didn't quite end up with one. no matter, but there was a surprise waiting for me back at the lodge. a little alaskan backcountry grilling with award winning chef kirsten dixon.

>> here you are in the heart of alaskan backcountry and you're about to cook salmon. how do you feel about that?

>> i like it. i'm ready. i'm more comfortable with eating the salmon.

>> okay.

>> so, what do you think?

>> that's fantastic. that's salmon.

>> reporter: after lunch, time to relax. believe me i know it doesn't look like it, but i am roughing it. carly, this champagne is not properly chilled. i am really having a hard time . not too hard, of course. it was an alaskan adventure of ice, snow, dogs, wildlife, and plains, an experience of a lifetime. you know, one of the bald eagles twited that he saw a bald black guy. actually the magnitude --

>> that's a really long way to go for that one. clear across the country.

>> that's true. you can see more of my adventures in alaska , learn about the alaskan way of life on our website,

>> beautiful place.

>> it really is. it's stunning. the video can't even really do justice to it.

>> cross it off your bucket list .

>> on my bucket list .

>> a long way to go for that, al.

>>> just ahead, answers to those