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20 July 2017

Dog partner enhances hike across Alaska

I suspected my brief dogless period was coming to an end when my wife and daughter were looking at puppies on the Internet.

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11 July 2017

Deep thoughts from the Deep Blue Sea

As far as I can see from the ship to the horizon there is nothing but deep blue sea. Not a single ship has passed within sight since we left the north shore of Oahu.

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29 June 2017

High summer along the pipeline’s path

YUKON RIVER — It’s high summer, past the solstice. Everything is alive here on the path of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Since I started this hike across Alaska on the last day of April in Valdez, the country has softened, greened up and started flowing.

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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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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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12 May 2017

Mountains full of snow and birds

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.

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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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14 April 2017

Pleistocene Park an experiment in adventure

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.

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7 April 2017

Life returning to island destroyed by eruption

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 pile of ash.

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5 April 2017

Are there otters in the Rio Grande?

On a chilly Tuesday morning on April 4th, 2017, 120 1st graders and 35 high school students braved the cold and the wind to celebrate Otter Day! Every year Bosque School students invite young students to learn about otters and their habitat in New Mexico.

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24 March 2017

Squirrels somehow predict seed bonanza

How can female squirrels predict a good food supply before it exists?

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17 March 2017

Are ravens responsible for wolf packs?

People who study animal behavior think they may have found out why wolves hunt in packs — because ravens are such good scavengers.

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13 March 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words

The diversity of shapes and sizes in phytoplankton is overwhelming and beautiful. I was able to see the actual individuals that were in the sea surrounding us all the way across the Pacific. Seeing them first-hand made me realize how interrelated all things are on this planet: they may be invisible, but they are important. We are dependent on them and they on us.

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10 March 2017

Far-north mallards thriving on the edge

With dogs’ breath fogging the 30-below zero air at their knees, 71 Iditarod mushers steamed their way down the frozen Chena River in Fairbanks on March 6. Upstream, just a few miles behind them, 500 ducks were surviving in a one-mile stretch of open water.

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3 March 2017

Far-north lake trout living in mystery

In early March up on the frozen Arctic Coastal Plain, as the wind sculpts snow into drifts, it’s hard to tell northern lakes from surrounding tundra. But lurking deep beneath that flat white world are toothy predators as long as your arm.

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13 February 2017

Sea to Space Trek: Oceans, The Final Frontier

On board we have holographic microscope. (Yes, holographic!) In contrast to a normal microscope, the recorded holograms can refocus the microscopic image at different distances to the camera.

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10 February 2017

More tropical nights in Alaska’s future?

By the end of this century, Alaskans may be enjoying tropical evening breezes for about a week each year. That’s an increase from the almost zero such nights we currently savor.

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26 January 2017

Full Moon Helps Illuminate Science on the Sevilleta!

Everyone had to keep their eyes wide open for the Sevilleta’s cottontails and black tailed jackrabbits – not an easy task at 2am!

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29 December 2016

The rigors of research in the cold

When Fairbanks is 40 below zero, the safest place for field scientists is in front of a computer.

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