Lost in Alaskan Wilderness, I Found My Anti-Home

By Chia-Chia Lin for the New York Times To say that Alaska is what you make of it suggests unconstrained entitlement; it’s something the colonizers could have said. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Alaska is one of the last places in this country where you can wander millions of acres of land, doing whatever and sleeping wherever you please. If someone...

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Three decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska’s coast faces an even bigger threat

For three days in March 1989, the oil — at least 11 million gallons of it, though some say much more — had lain like a still pool around the ship, virtually untouched by cleanup efforts. Now the storm clawed the oil across the sound’s tracery of rocky islands, into their infinite crevices, and ultimately over more than 1,000 miles of rich coastal wilderness. The story...

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Hiking old mining trails a reminder that one person’s trash is another’s artifact

Heading up the trail, relics from the mine began to appear. Rusted-out pipes and cast-off chunks of steel, their purpose left to the imagination, lined the stream bed like a trail of bread crumbs to the mine proper. The rusted hulks of engines, crushers, corrugated metal and sluice boxes stood like ancient sentries to the entrance of a tunnel into the side of the...

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Husky saves deaf hiker, and dozens of others, on Alaskan trail

This rescue dog is making it his life’s work to rescue others. Nanook, an Alaskan husky, has been known to scout the trailhead of the 24-mile long Crow Pass Trail, about half a mile from Girdwood, Alaska, looking for hikers to assist on their journey. Nanook’s heroics were on full display when he rescued deaf Rochester Institute of Technology student Amelia Milling. She...

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Why the Trump administration wants to open ANWR to drilling so quickly

At the end of last year, President Trump and Congress officially gave the green light to oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). For Alaskan lawmakers, the inclusion of a drilling provision in the GOP tax bill was a victorious end to a nearly 40-year struggle to develop parts of the resource-rich refuge. But lifting the decades-old ban...

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The world’s permafrost holds vast stores of carbon. What happens when it thaws?

Like a giant dragonfly, the chopper skims over undulating swaths of tussocky tundra, then touches down at Wolverine Lake, one of a swarm of kettle lakes near the Toolik Field Station on Alaska’s North Slope. Even before the blades stop spinning, Rose Cory, an aquatic geochemist from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, gracefully swings to the ground and beelines to...

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Earthjustice Wins 16-Year-Long Battle to Protect 50 Million Acres of Forests

  A decades-long fight over a landmark rule protecting wild forests nationwide took another successful–and possibly final–turn after a U.S. district court threw out a last-ditch attack by the state of Alaska against the Roadless Rule. Adopted in the closing days of the Clinton administration, the Roadless Rule prohibits most logging and road construction in...

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130 Miles, 8 Days, 1 Spellbound Hiker/Photographer on Kodiak Island

Kodiak Island, the second largest in the United States, is best known for the main quarry of this trip, the oversized subspecies of brown bear, the Kodiak bear, that is unique to its mountains and shorelines. This journey goes 130 miles along the notoriously rough shoreline of Shelikof Strait, across river drainages and bays, paddling packrafts through a series of lakes...

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A Bear’s-Eye view of the Katmai Coast

Ever wonder what the world looks like through the eyes of a brown bear? Researchers at Katmai National Park wonder, too. To learn more, they initiated a collaborative, multi-year study examining the relationship between intertidal resources, coastal brown bear behavior, and human influences. As a part of this study, nine brown bears along the Katmai coast were outfitted...

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Exploring Lake Clark National Park in Alaska

Lake Clark is one of the National Park System’s true gems—a large sliver of all of the best parts of Alaska rolled into one easy-to-get-to place. It is almost as if Mother Nature created it with explorers in mind, offering diverse environments for mountaineers, backpackers, paddlers, big-game fisherman, hikers, and photographers to play in. The lake that bares the park’s...

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Parts of the Valdez-Eagle Trail can still be walked

In the wake of the Klondike Gold Rush, U.S. Army Captain P.H. Ray was sent to Alaska in 1897 to investigate rumors of unrest among gold seekers along the U.S. portion of the Yukon River. During his travels, Ray heard from prospectors clamoring for an “All-American” route to the Yukon gold fields that would bypass the Canadian-controlled White Pass and Chilkoot Trails....

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Trail to the past: Recreating a 1968 hike

Last year, a former Eielson airman asked for help identifying the location of an Interior hill he climbed in 1968. Fairbanks history buffs and hiking enthusiasts rushed to help him. First, they identified the location of his hike from his old photographs.Then, last month, they took him hiking there when he flew in from Kentucky to re-create the hike. Bob Pettit’s main...

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Legal challenges over Exxon Valdez sputter to an end

When the sun set just after 8 pm on March 23, 1989, nothing was amiss in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The ocean lapped at rocky, seaweed-strewn beaches, boats dotted the horizon, and thousands of sea otters floated serenely on their backs. But all that changed the following morning, when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground and hemorrhaged 11 million gallons of crude...

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Shell’s giving up drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Now what?

On Sept. 28, 2015, Shell captured national attention when it announced that the exploratory well it drilled in hopes of extracting the first barrels of oil from Alaska’s Chukchi Sea was a bust. The company didn’t strike enough oil to make further exploration economically viable. Effective immediately, it’s backing out of the Arctic Ocean “for the foreseeable future.”...

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Alaska Entering New Era for Wildfires

Alaska, the great northern frontier of America, is being reshaped by climate change. While rising temperatures are altering its character and landscape, they are also bringing the ravages of wildfires. In the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the country, with average temperatures up by nearly 3°F. By 2050, temperatures are projected...

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Majestic glaciers in Alaska: Then and now

If you’re looking at something but don’t have anything to compare it to, it’s hard to know what’s really going on. Maybe you meet someone for the first time and think they look a little sick, so you think they’re not doing too well. But if you had met them a year ago when they were terminally ill, you’d think that today’s health was a...

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Hiking to Granite Basin, Alaska

There are two principal ways to get to Granite Basin, and on a wonderfully warm and sunny day in early August, the Parks and Recreation Hiking Group used both of them. Nine strong hikers aimed for Mount Juneau and the Juneau Ridge; they spent 10 hours on the loop from the top of the mountain, along the ridge and down through Granite Basin. They reported seeing goats and...

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