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13 September 2017

Journeying to Earth’s Interior on a Mountain in British Columbia

I spent several days last week on the summit of Monarch Mountain in the company of two Texas A&M University geophysicists and one undergraduate.

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17 August 2017

Hike across Alaska ends with after-dinner bear

There, we reached mile 0 of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the finish of a south-to-north walk across Alaska, most of it on the service road that parallels the pipeline.

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11 August 2017

Final steps to Mile 0 of summer walk

I said goodbye to my final hiking partner today outside a van on the side of a gravel highway. For the remaining 40 miles in my summer hike along the path of the Trans-Alaska Highway, it will be just Cora and me.

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4 August 2017

In fifth month, Trans-Alaska hike nears end

We just passed Trans-Alaska Pipeline mile 100, which means that distance remains on our summer hike from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay. My dog Cora and I started walking on April 30, which means we’re in our fifth month of sleeping outside.

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18 July 2017

The science before (and during) the storm – Part 2

Caught in the Storm By Robert Emberson Sampling landslides in the field varies in difficulty; some are high up on hillslopes or in the headwaters of steep catchments, while others tumble into easily accessed river valleys. When planning for such sampling, we had mainly anticipated that the weather would not be the biggest obstacle, but that’s what transpired for a major portion of our fieldwork in central Taiwan. The typical …

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29 June 2017

We Probably Should Have Waterproofed That: Terrestrial Volcanism

Yesterday we were investigating marine volcanism via underwater fumaroles, and today we’re exploring the terrestrial side of Dominica! Scott Brame, a professor at Clemson University, took us to some of the most interesting geological features this volcanic island has to offer.

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26 June 2017

We Probably Should Have Waterproofed That: Welcome to Dominica!

Welcome to Dominica, the Nature Island! Located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a tropical island with nine active volcanic centers and is a great place to study geology.

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23 June 2017

A restock and recharge along the pipeline’s path

I’ve been in Alaska’s second-largest city for a few days now, resupplying for the trip north as I hike with my dog on the path of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Three hundred fifty miles down, 450 to go.

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30 May 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Observation, Final Words & Acknowledgements

I realised how lucky I am to have observed the glacier in 1972/73 and to have photographed the glacier extensively then so that I was able to show to others one of the demonstratable effects of climate change.

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29 May 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Departure – Sunday 16th April

The weather was still excellent for our final day for departure. I was tempted to stay one day longer but one should not tempt ‘fate’ even if the weather on Monday was going to be good.

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26 May 2017

Gear has come a long way in 20 years

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 lighter gear because consumers wanted it, and because of breakthroughs in materials available to designers.

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Glacier Benito Journal: Winding Up – Saturday 15th April

First excursion in the morning was by Marcos and Olaf to Level II Finger Lower Cairn to measure its position using the Survey GPS. After that they moved to Level I Finger Lower Cairn to repeat the survey activity.

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25 May 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Crossing the Glacier and the Mavic Takes Off – Friday 14th April

The plan on Friday was conduct Mavic drone flying from the middle of Level II on the glacier. So at 0945, all five of us set off to point ‘403’.

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24 May 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Finding the Level Markers – Thursday 13th April

Day three started the same as day two. Clear sky, moon providing the illumination before dawn, a sharp frost and no wind! Johnny, Olaf and Mark remained in camp to try to get the X8 drone up and flying.

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23 May 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Preparing for Drone Flights – Wednesday, 12th April

Each morning’s activity started with Martin getting up at about 0730 to light the cookers. The ground and glacier were frosted. As soon as we left the tent, the condensation inside the tent also turned to ice which fell onto our sleeping bags and mattresses as we entered the tent again to get items required during the day.

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19 May 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Execution

The team was arriving. Meanwhile snow was falling with it settling down to 500 m above sea level (absl). Had winter started early?

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18 May 2017

Lots of quiet time in the Big Lonely

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.

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Glacier Benito Journal: Planning and Preparation

Over the next six years, the plan emerged following discussions with Olaf Wündrich of ColibriVentura and others. The major requirement was to find a helicopter able to undertake the flights.

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5 May 2017

First steps from Valdez, in the snow

My wife Kristen looked at the Valdez forecast on her phone as we drove to our take-off point. “It says wintery mix of snow and rain the next few days,” she said. “No one likes a wintery mix.”

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28 April 2017

Revisiting a dream, 20 years later

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.

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