Alaska Science Forum

June 15, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
GOLD RUN CREEK --- This clear waterway running through boreal swampland marks the farthest Cora and I will be from a highway during our summer hike along the route of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. If we chose to bust overland southwest toward Banner Creek, we would have to cover at least nine boggy miles before we reached the Richardson Highway. Backtracking to the nearest pipeline access road would...
June 8, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
RIKA'S ROADHOUSE -- Sitting in the shade of a poplar, I watch the Tanana River flow by. It's flat and tan, dimpled by eddies and darted over by swallows that sound like they are chewing rubber bands. I slept last night with my wife, daughter and dog in the upstairs of a handsome, two-story log structure that has stood since before World War I. Tonight, Cora and I will sleep there again. Judy...
June 1, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Who is this girl, hair in braids, emerging from the tent with a full backpack? She is 10 years old, a recent fourth grade graduate, out here with a friend from her class. Within the 20-year-old tent they share, they stay up for hours, chatting and giggling. It is mountain music. The girl, my daughter Anna, spoke to me a few days ago as I walked beside her. "I'm never coming out here again to hike...
May 26, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
When I walked this same path 20 years ago, I averaged six miles each day. After a few weeks in 2017 of hiking the path of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, it seems easy to do 10 miles a day. Back then, sometimes my backpack weighed 60 pounds. I'm trying to keep it half that weight now. I started from Valdez with a load of 32 pounds. Most of the reduction is due to clever people who have engineered...
May 17, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
I walked around the chain-link fence of Pump Station 12 of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, apprehensive about the human encounter to come. It was time to send a weekly column. I needed a Wi-Fi signal or a cellular bar or two. I had walked more than a week through air devoid of communications waves. With Cora on a leash and me having not spoken to anyone all day, I reached the gate of the pump station...
May 11, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
In the early going of my second hike across Alaska along the route of the Trans-Alaska pipeline, I chose to walk the highway rather than the pipe's route to get up Thompson Pass north of Valdez. The road added six miles to our day. But I tried the pipe route up the pass 20 years ago and it was like trying to climb a 90-meter ski jump. Most of my mileage so far on this trip has been on the...
May 8, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
PORT VALDEZ--We have launched on the pipeline hike version 2.0, 20 years after the first time. I'm now sitting on the muscled root of a Sitka spruce by the pleasant rush of a creek. A bald eagle shrieks from the top of a tree nearby while a diesel ship engine thrums from the Valdez Marine Terminal a few miles away. These rainforest woods, so different from my boreal forest home, have already...
April 27, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Twenty years ago, I was 34 when I walked away from a chain-link fence near Port Valdez and headed east. Those were the first steps on a summer-long trip across Alaska. In a few days, I will begin to retrace those steps. This summer, I will try to again walk from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay along the gravel path that parallels the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The first journey, with my chocolate Labrador...
April 20, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Skiing to work over a persistent spring snowpack, I looked up to see a large white bird flapping gracefully over the spruce tops. A few gentle honks confirmed it was a tundra swan. After a long winter when all the large birds were black, it was good to see one of the frontrunners of the billions now winging to Alaska. Tundra swans can live to be older than 20. Perhaps this bird, about 15 pounds...
April 13, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
More than 700 donors believe in an attempt to recreate the ice age in Siberia. The operators of Pleistocene Park have raised more than $100,000 in a crowdfunding effort to bring bison and yaks to eastern Russia. The creators think the animals will help convert tundra to ancient grasslands that will slow global warming.   An Alaska researcher has visited Pleistocene Park five times. He has...