Alaska Outdoors

Melissa Garcia Johnson separates foraged wildflowers at a beach on North Douglas Highway. (Photo by Kevin Gullufsen/Juneau Empire)

Foraging a homemade bouquet

Homemade gifts hold a certain charm.

Melissa Garcia Johnson separates foraged wildflowers at a beach on North Douglas Highway. (Photo by Kevin Gullufsen/Juneau Empire)
Dave Osantowski fillets the only sockeye salmon a group of four charter boat Copper River dipnetters caught on July 9, 2018. (Mary Catharine Martin | SalmonState)

Low Copper River sockeye return effects ripple outward

It’s a summer tradition for many in Alaska: pack up the car, drive to Chitina and dipnet for Copper River red salmon.

Dave Osantowski fillets the only sockeye salmon a group of four charter boat Copper River dipnetters caught on July 9, 2018. (Mary Catharine Martin | SalmonState)

Rambles in Gustavus

I recently spent a couple of days roaming the trails in Gustavus, along with three other curious naturalists.

Mike Janes and the author getting ready to paddle Hasselborg Lake in Spring of 2018. (Photo by Bjorn Dihle)

A short trek on Admiralty Island

Late last winter my friend Abbey Janes called asking if I’d surprise her husband Mike with a mini-adventure to celebrate his 40th birthday.

Mike Janes and the author getting ready to paddle Hasselborg Lake in Spring of 2018. (Photo by Bjorn Dihle)
Fishermen mistook this humpback whale carcass near Juneau for a giant squid. A ball and socket from the pectoral joint sticks out from the “badly decomposed” carcass, giving the impression of a cephalopod’s eye. (Courtesy Photo | Johanna Vollenweider via NOAA Fisheries)

Fishermen spot giant squid, turns out to be a ‘badly-decomposed’ whale

What fishermen thought was a rarely-seen sea creature on Tuesday turned out to be a badly-decomposed cetacean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received reports… Continue reading

Fishermen mistook this humpback whale carcass near Juneau for a giant squid. A ball and socket from the pectoral joint sticks out from the “badly decomposed” carcass, giving the impression of a cephalopod’s eye. (Courtesy Photo | Johanna Vollenweider via NOAA Fisheries)
Almost all chocolate lily flowers are brown, but sometimes we find a rare yellow-flowered individual. (Denise Carroll | Courtesy Photo)

Nature potluck

An assortment of unrelated but potentially interesting observations and information.

Almost all chocolate lily flowers are brown, but sometimes we find a rare yellow-flowered individual. (Denise Carroll | Courtesy Photo)
Runoff streams create curves to follow the path of least resistance. (Gabe Donohoe)

The icy path of least resistance

This sport requires so much gear.

Runoff streams create curves to follow the path of least resistance. (Gabe Donohoe)
Larvae of the aspen leaf miner eat the leaf surface, leaving conspicuous trails. One larva is visible at the end of its trail on the leaf on the right. (Photo by Kerry Howard)

Arctic squirrels, ants and aspens: Nature abounds at excursion to Kluane Park

Past an intensive construction zone, where the Chilkat River had begun to threaten the highway, up over the Three Guardsmen pass, there it begins —… Continue reading

Larvae of the aspen leaf miner eat the leaf surface, leaving conspicuous trails. One larva is visible at the end of its trail on the leaf on the right. (Photo by Kerry Howard)
Abbey Whitcomb and her client, Naknek resident Bryon Singly, pose with a small rainbow on the Naknek River. (Courtesy Photo | Sarah Miller)

Casting for fish — and guides — in Bristol Bay

Triston Chaney, a 19-year-old college student raised in Dillingham, knew before this year that he loved fly fishing. What he didn’t know is that he’d… Continue reading

Abbey Whitcomb and her client, Naknek resident Bryon Singly, pose with a small rainbow on the Naknek River. (Courtesy Photo | Sarah Miller)
Fen high roaming Blackerby Ridge late winter of 2018. (Photo by Bjorn Dihle)

Walking my dog in wolf country

On a recent hike up a mountain on Douglas Island, I noticed a large rock rising from the alpine tundra. My dog Fen ran towards… Continue reading

Fen high roaming Blackerby Ridge late winter of 2018. (Photo by Bjorn Dihle)

Casting for fish — and guides — in Bristol Bay

Triston Chaney, a 19-year-old college student raised in Dillingham, knew before this year that he loved fly fishing. What he didn’t know is that he’d… Continue reading

Walking my dog in wolf country

On a recent hike up a mountain on Douglas Island, I noticed a large rock rising from the alpine tundra. My dog Fen ran towards… Continue reading

Arctic squirrels, ants and aspens: Nature abounds at excursion to Kluane Park

Past an intensive construction zone, where the Chilkat River had begun to threaten the highway, up over the Three Guardsmen pass, there it begins —… Continue reading

A yearling bear in Juneau in late June 2018. (Courtesy Photo | Jennelle Jenniges via Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Yearlings must learn how to survive, even if it’s heart-breaking to watch

It’s normal for mother black bears to “kick their cubs loose” in June.

A yearling bear in Juneau in late June 2018. (Courtesy Photo | Jennelle Jenniges via Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
A handful of rock flour, or glacial flour, scooped up at Mendenhall Lake on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Curious by Nature: What is glacial flour?

The short answer is that it’s ground up rock. And no, you can’t cook with it (it’s ground up rock).

A handful of rock flour, or glacial flour, scooped up at Mendenhall Lake on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)
Naval M.D. Mark Lund (the author’s brother) with his first king salmon in almost a decade.

Seasonal overload

I’ve never been in one of those phone booths with the $100 bills flying around, but summer time in Alaska feels a lot like it sometimes.

Naval M.D. Mark Lund (the author’s brother) with his first king salmon in almost a decade.
A view of Cropley Lake, from one of the streams feeding into it, on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Gabe Donohoe | For the Juneau Empire)

Photos: Hiking to Cropley Lake

This past weekend, my friend Zach Gianotti was back in town for a summer visit, which means I had new company for this week’s adventure.… Continue reading

A view of Cropley Lake, from one of the streams feeding into it, on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Gabe Donohoe | For the Juneau Empire)

Curious by Nature: What is glacial flour?

Empire reader Mackey Migel wrote a few weeks ago with a simple question: What is glacial flour? The short answer is that it’s ground up… Continue reading

Seasonal overload

I’ve never been in one of those phone booths with the $100 bills flying around, but summer time in Alaska feels a lot like it… Continue reading

A char moves into Sam Creek along with hundreds of sockeye salmon. The char is skinny now, but will get fat gorging on salmon eggs. (Courtesy Photo | Jonny Armstrong)

The impossible journey of the juvenile coho

Turns out finance and salmon survival have something in common: the importance of diversification.

A char moves into Sam Creek along with hundreds of sockeye salmon. The char is skinny now, but will get fat gorging on salmon eggs. (Courtesy Photo | Jonny Armstrong)