News Archive

May 25, 2017
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 24, 2017
Scientists developing a project to study the Earth’s crust in China are looking toward EarthScope, a similar project in the U.S., as a model for multidisciplinary science and open data sharing. Representatives from the SinoProbe project visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute this week after the 2017 EarthScope National Meeting in Anchorage. The 16 Chinese scientists...
May 18, 2017
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
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 4, 2017
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...
May 1, 2017
The monetary impact of changes in snowfall due to climate change is likely in the trillions of dollars. Professor Matthew Sturm, with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, reported in a recent paper for the American Geophysical Union that the costs of snowfall changes are “measured in trillions, not billions, of dollars.” Sturm collaborated on the invited paper with Michael...
April 27, 2017
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
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
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...
April 6, 2017
Nine years after it erupted, Kasatochi Island is just beginning to resemble its neighbors. Kasatochi is a speck in the middle of the Aleutian chain between Dutch Harbor and Adak, about 75 miles east of the latter. The volcanic island had no modern history of erupting until August 2008. In a few days that summer, the island changed from the lush green home of a quarter million seabirds to a gray...