Outdoors and Recreation

A female varied thrush pauses to look around during her foraging bout. (Photo by Helen Unruh)

On the Trails: Early signs of spring

The ground is heavily blanketed with snow. The snow berms in my driveway (and, dangerously, at some street intersections too) are still over six feet… Continue reading

 

The Department of Fish and Game will release great adventure permission slips on Friday. The author tagged along on a hunt in 2023 and it ended up being a highlight. (Photo by Jeff Lund)

I Went to the Woods: The wait is almost over

Clarity comes on Friday. It won’t be one that really makes or breaks 2024, it’s simply some clarity. Will I go on a draw hunt?… Continue reading

 

A map showing some orange streams found in national park units in northern Alaska. (Map created by Carson Baughman, USGS; photos by Ken Hill, National Park Service)

Alaska Science Forum: The rusting of northern Alaska streams

During these late winter days, researchers who are studying the rusty discoloration of northern Alaska streams are prepping for summer field trips. Jon O’Donnell of… Continue reading

 

Redpolls have come to Juneau in large numbers this year. (Photo by Mark Schwan)

On the Trails: Snow flies and other wintery things

January brought us two massive snowfalls, piling up about six feet deep, and pretty much shutting down the whole city for a couple of days.… Continue reading

Redpolls have come to Juneau in large numbers this year. (Photo by Mark Schwan)
Fairbanks residents engage in a favorite cold-weather activity of taking photographs of themselves in front of the University of Alaska Fairbanks time-and-temperature sign on the morning of Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: Alaska still excellent at manufacturing cold

Moments after bashing some drywall with a hammer to expose my home’s water pipes to warmer air, I logged in to see another Special Weather… Continue reading

Fairbanks residents engage in a favorite cold-weather activity of taking photographs of themselves in front of the University of Alaska Fairbanks time-and-temperature sign on the morning of Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
A mallard feeding on rockweed in North Tee Harbor. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Mallards eating rockweed (and how plants hear)

Mallards are omnivores, eating seeds, little invertebrates, an occasional tiny fish, and whatnot. Recent midwinter observations at North Tee Harbor documented them grazing on rockweed,… Continue reading

A mallard feeding on rockweed in North Tee Harbor. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
John Eichelberger of Fairbanks took this photo of the full moon on Dec. 26 north of Fairbanks. At the time he took this photo — solar noon in Fairbanks or about 1 p.m. local time — the full moon appeared due north of him. (Photo by John Eichelberger)

Alaska Science Forum: The super moons of this Alaska winter

Has the moon seemed exceptionally noticeable this winter? There’s a reason: The full moon currently never sets for many Alaskans. During the winter of 2023-2024,… Continue reading

John Eichelberger of Fairbanks took this photo of the full moon on Dec. 26 north of Fairbanks. At the time he took this photo — solar noon in Fairbanks or about 1 p.m. local time — the full moon appeared due north of him. (Photo by John Eichelberger)
A coyote pauses on its way through the Presidio of San Francisco, a two-square mile former military base that is now managed by workers for the National Park Service. (Photo by Heather Liston)

Alaska Science Forum: The coyotes of San Francisco

A person is bound to notice changes if he bicycles the same pathways for 20 years. Such is the case in San Francisco, where the… Continue reading

A coyote pauses on its way through the Presidio of San Francisco, a two-square mile former military base that is now managed by workers for the National Park Service. (Photo by Heather Liston)
A firefighter clears loose brush from around a sequoia tree in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., in July 2022. (Garrett Dickman/National Park Service)

On the Trails: Fire-adapted trees

In areas subject to fairly frequent wildfires, especially surface fires, we find many plants that have evolved resistance to burning, even taking advantage of the… Continue reading

A firefighter clears loose brush from around a sequoia tree in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, Calif., in July 2022. (Garrett Dickman/National Park Service)
An illustration shows a new Welcome Center and plaza area at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area as proposed in May. The facilities approved in a Notice of Decision on Thursday are similar, but are being relocated further from the face of the glacier to the existing commercial overflow parking lot. (Image from the Notice of Decision published by the U.S. Forest Service).

Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area improvement plan gets a final decision

New welcome center and outdoor amphitheater, more trails, no motorized boats in multiyear plan.

An illustration shows a new Welcome Center and plaza area at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area as proposed in May. The facilities approved in a Notice of Decision on Thursday are similar, but are being relocated further from the face of the glacier to the existing commercial overflow parking lot. (Image from the Notice of Decision published by the U.S. Forest Service).
A local display of flowering rhododendrons may include some types with toxic nectar. (Photo by Denise Carroll)

On the Trails: Honey and nectar

Several kinds of bees can make honey, although domestic honeybees are the most famous and best-studied. They make honey from flower nectar, storing it in… Continue reading

A local display of flowering rhododendrons may include some types with toxic nectar. (Photo by Denise Carroll)
Through the author’s spotting scope: A Dall sheep feeds in Denali National Park near the Teklanika River. (Photo by Jeff Lund)

I Went to the Woods: Too tough to call

The Teklanika River grows and moves swiftly as it flows north. Eventually the Alaska Range relents and gives way to the boggy interior of Alaska.… Continue reading

Through the author’s spotting scope: A Dall sheep feeds in Denali National Park near the Teklanika River. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
The Yukon River, seen here as a wide white band, is freezing later in fall and breaking up earlier in spring than it was a few decades ago. (Photo by Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: Long-term views of a changed Alaska

As an instructor for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, I have stood before a group of Alaskans every Tuesday night this November. During the most recent… Continue reading

The Yukon River, seen here as a wide white band, is freezing later in fall and breaking up earlier in spring than it was a few decades ago. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
The Juneau Assembly on Monday unanimously approved spending $300,000 for the first phase of the city’s first off-road vehicle park, which will be located beyond the 35-mile marker on Glacier Highway. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

Assembly approves $300,000 for first phase of Juneau’s first ORV park

Five miles of trails planned at 175-acre site near 35 Mile Glacier Highway.

The Juneau Assembly on Monday unanimously approved spending $300,000 for the first phase of the city’s first off-road vehicle park, which will be located beyond the 35-mile marker on Glacier Highway. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
A springtail perches on a wood railing, perhaps to eat microalgae. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Early November sightings

An early November stroll on the dike trail was uneventful until I met some Real Birders, who were there in search of some unusual sightings.… Continue reading

A springtail perches on a wood railing, perhaps to eat microalgae. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
The flowers of enchanter’s nightshade are tiny and often self-pollinating. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Enchanter’s nightshade

Enchanter’s nightshade is a tiny perennial plant we commonly see (and walk right past) alongside many of our trails. Although it is said to grow… Continue reading

The flowers of enchanter’s nightshade are tiny and often self-pollinating. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
An American goshawk female in brown “juvenile” plumage guards her nest. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Hawks of the forest

We have two species of forest hawks: the American goshawk and the much smaller sharp-shinned hawk. Both have short, broad, powerful wings and long tails,… Continue reading

An American goshawk female in brown “juvenile” plumage guards her nest. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
Fall colors at Mendenhall Lake. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
Video

On the Trails: Plants’ sensory world and other things

If you think about it, plants are really quite remarkable organisms. They don’t have hearts or brains, and they can’t run or hop around, but… Continue reading

Fall colors at Mendenhall Lake. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
Video
American avocet on the wetlands in September. (Photo by Kelly Kirkpatrick)

On the Trails: September walks

With a piece of good luck, despite the forecast of yet more rain, blue skies appeared one morning in mid-September. That called for a walk… Continue reading

American avocet on the wetlands in September. (Photo by Kelly Kirkpatrick)
AI will attempt to replicate the feeling of a crisp morning in a snowy drainage, but it will never be the same…right? (Photo by Jeff Lund)

I Went to the Woods: A new era

I asked the artist if he had Instagram. “No, I’m from the Facebook era.” We both laughed. He looked it, but you can never tell.… Continue reading

AI will attempt to replicate the feeling of a crisp morning in a snowy drainage, but it will never be the same…right? (Photo by Jeff Lund)