September 3, 2020 Karen Lewis

Trailbound Alaska Sets Off to Retrace the Iditarod National Historic Trail

Max Romey watches as the sun begins to set in Seward, sharing a glimpse of the watercolor scene he just created.

Max Romey watches as the sun begins to set in Seward, sharing a glimpse of the watercolor scene he just created.

This summer, Trailbound Alaska, a grassroots film project, set off to retrace the Iditarod National Historic Trail with a pair of running shoes and a sketchbook. Trailbound Alaska’s first short film in a series of six total is supported by a KMTA Publications Grant. It shares the journey of the “Southern Trek,” an incomplete 120-mile section that travels through the Chugach National Forest. Starting at Mile Zero in Seward, a group of local runners including Denali Strabel, ( a top 5 finisher in the last four Mt. Marathon races), Lars Arneson (a competitive runner and paraglider), Eve Van Dommelen (Max’s wife and anti-hunger advocate), and Max Romey adventure over mountain passes, through raging gorges, and impassable terrain, to go from Seward to Girdwood in a four-day push.

 

Eve Van Dommelen films Max Romey, Lars Arneson, and Denali Strabel just before they start the Southern Trek journey at Mile 0 of the Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT) in Seward.

Eve Van Dommelen films Max Romey, Lars Arneson, and Denali Strabel just before they start the Southern Trek journey at Mile 0 of the Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT) in Seward.

Trailbound Alaska is the brainchild of filmmaker Max Romey. Since his first feature film 3022ft., Max’s film work has developed a young and international following. His energetic videography pulls in a broad viewership but aims to do more than just get views. Max starts a dialogue with in-depth topics woven into the heart of each story.

“For so many years, I failed to recognize the KMTA corridor beyond it being a highway on my way to Seward for Mount Marathon. But, after spending just a little time exploring, it has opened up an entirely new world for me. Between the history and landscapes and the ways the trails connect the two, you could spend an entire lifetime discovering this area and not get tired of it.”

The Trailbound Alaska films utilize a combination of documentary-style footage, personal interviews, and watercolor sketches. The Southern Trek film will blend a complex range of topics found within the KMTA corridor to share a big picture of the area while also including personal narratives.

After spending three years traveling and filming abroad as a freelance filmmaker with the outdoor brand Salomon, Max decided to trade in international plane tickets for Alaskan topo maps. Max recognized a rare opportunity to spend extended time at home to create a series of films that combine history, adventure, and trails, while also encouraging young Alaskans to explore the landscapes and communities around them. Working abroad gave Max a unique set of skills to share powerful stories, and it also taught him that often the most interesting story is the one right under your feet.

Lars, Max, Denali, and Eric Strabel (Denali's husband) take a quick break along the Primrose Trail, a segment of the INHT.

Lars, Max, Denali, and Eric Strabel (Denali’s husband) take a quick break along the Primrose Trail, a segment of the INHT.

“Trails are a gateway into one of the most interesting and diverse landscapes I have ever experienced. They are a pathway both into an unbelievable setting and history that I had not known about prior. After exploring just a piece of it now, I cannot wait to continue to explore this region.”

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