News Archive

July 20, 2017
I suspected my brief dogless period was coming to an end when my wife and daughter were looking at puppies on the Internet. We had a few months earlier lost Poops, a Labrador retriever mix, to a tumor on a front paw. Though it was strange not to have a creature greeting you with socks in its mouth, I was enjoying the break from responsibility. But Kristen and Anna found a crop of puppies being...
July 13, 2017
JIM RIVER — On this cobble bar north of the Arctic Circle, it is a fine day. The sky is a sheet of blue, a breeze wraps us with clean air, a sandpiper mom shrieks over her hatchlings. They are gray-blue puffballs, extra cute and almost invisible amid the stones. In short, this is a perfect morning for the human creature, with its narrow range of comfort regarding temperature and insects. Along my...
June 29, 2017
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. Before we blink and it's winter solstice again, here’s a description of this north-south line across the state at the time of light. Light is a...
June 22, 2017
FAIRBANKS — I left my home here to begin a hike along the Trans-Alaska pipeline in late April. Returning in June, I am stunned by the green of it all. It’s like winter to summer in one day. 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. Walking...
June 15, 2017
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
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
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 31, 2017
Nothing makes Greg Shipman and his colleagues happier than a challenge. “We have to be ready for whatever walks through that door,” said Shipman, manager of the machine shop at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. Often, that means creating something mechanical for scientists. Earlier this spring, their work took a more prosthetic turn. A radiologist at Fairbanks Memorial...
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...