Alaska Outdoors

The new year holds promise like new stretches of the same river.  (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: New year, new water

Attacking the new water with a solid program allows better transitions to the next phase.

The new year holds promise like new stretches of the same river.  (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
This photo shows a so-called "mummy berry." "The best-studied type of Monilinia attacks a blueberry species that is native to eastern North America but is also widely cultivated (e.g., in Pacific Northwest and British Colubmia)." writes Mary F. Willson. "When Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi infests Vaccinium corymbosum, the vegetative parts are blighted and the fruits become hard, wizened 'mummy berries.'" (Courtesy Photo / Matt Goff, sitkanature.org/photojournal)

On the Trails: Climate warming and disease spread

The effects of climate change are being felt far and wide.

This photo shows a so-called "mummy berry." "The best-studied type of Monilinia attacks a blueberry species that is native to eastern North America but is also widely cultivated (e.g., in Pacific Northwest and British Colubmia)." writes Mary F. Willson. "When Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi infests Vaccinium corymbosum, the vegetative parts are blighted and the fruits become hard, wizened 'mummy berries.'" (Courtesy Photo / Matt Goff, sitkanature.org/photojournal)
William Dall’s sketch of the mouth of what is now called the Melozitna River, which enters the Yukon River near the village of Ruby, from “Alaska and its Resources.”

Alaska Science Forum: A scientist’s view of Alaska, 150 years ago

One year before Alaska became part of America, 21-year old William Dall ascended the Yukon River on a sled, pulled by dogs. The man who… Continue reading

William Dall’s sketch of the mouth of what is now called the Melozitna River, which enters the Yukon River near the village of Ruby, from “Alaska and its Resources.”
A black-capped chickadee pecks at a frozen turkey carcass in Fairbanks. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Finding a midwinter night’s roost

During the darkest days of Alaska’s winter, black-capped chickadees stuff themselves with enough seeds and frozen insects to survive 18-hour nights. Where chickadees spent those… Continue reading

A black-capped chickadee pecks at a frozen turkey carcass in Fairbanks. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a great bustard. These birds, especially the males, selectively eat blister beetles that contain toxic cantharidin, but because the toxin is lethal to the birds except at very low doses, only one or two at a time. This toxin is known, from in vitro experiments in the lab, to kill fungi, round worms, and bacteria. (Francesco Veronesi / Flickr)

On the Trails: Self-medication by many animals

Examples come from many kinds of critters.

This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a great bustard. These birds, especially the males, selectively eat blister beetles that contain toxic cantharidin, but because the toxin is lethal to the birds except at very low doses, only one or two at a time. This toxin is known, from in vitro experiments in the lab, to kill fungi, round worms, and bacteria. (Francesco Veronesi / Flickr)
Wilson's warblers are sometimes seen in early winter (Courtesy Photo / Gus van Vliet photo)

On the Trails: Surviving winter is no small feat

Here’s how some diminutive vertebrates do it.

Wilson's warblers are sometimes seen in early winter (Courtesy Photo / Gus van Vliet photo)
he Alaska Range sits beneath a December sunrise as seen from the UAF campus. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: The dark season turns on winter solstice

One winter day not long ago, a reporter from the Sacramento Bee called. She had read a story I wrote about life at 40 below… Continue reading

he Alaska Range sits beneath a December sunrise as seen from the UAF campus. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Rain drizzles on a sign Wednesday morning at a trailhead leading into the Montana Creek Wetlands area. A public meeting was held Wednesday evening presenting a revised Montana Creek draft master plan. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Residents get a new view of the Montana Creek draft master plan

It proposes projects like new public use cabins, trails and maintenance.

Rain drizzles on a sign Wednesday morning at a trailhead leading into the Montana Creek Wetlands area. A public meeting was held Wednesday evening presenting a revised Montana Creek draft master plan. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
The author was able to look at his new watch and see exactly what time the sun set so he could get to a location to photograph it. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Watch and learn

Wrist-y business.

The author was able to look at his new watch and see exactly what time the sun set so he could get to a location to photograph it. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
Male harlequins earn their name with their patchwork colors. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: The colorful world of harlequins

On a cold, windy day in late November, I wandered out to Point Louisa. A strong, cold north wind had a mixed gang of scoters… Continue reading

Male harlequins earn their name with their patchwork colors. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
Juneau crowds flock to Eaglecrest Ski Area on Saturday to enjoy the official opening of the ski season. The mountain was limited to only utilizing the Porcupine Chairlift, but additional lifts are expected to open in the coming months, according to staff. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Juneau crowds flock to Eaglecrest Ski Area on Saturday to enjoy the official opening of the ski season. The mountain was limited to only utilizing the Porcupine Chairlift, but additional lifts are expected to open in the coming months, according to staff. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
People and dogs traverse the frozen surface Mendenhall Lake on Monday afternoon. Officials said going on to any part of Mendenhall Lake can open up serious risks for falling into the freezing waters. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Officials warn residents about the dangers of thin ice on Mendenhall Lake

Experts outline what to do in the situation that someone falls through ice

People and dogs traverse the frozen surface Mendenhall Lake on Monday afternoon. Officials said going on to any part of Mendenhall Lake can open up serious risks for falling into the freezing waters. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Sun lights up a foggy morning in the Tongass National Forest. (Courtesy Photo / Amanda Ristau, Untamed Majesty Photography)
Sun lights up a foggy morning in the Tongass National Forest. (Courtesy Photo / Amanda Ristau, Untamed Majesty Photography)
A crow harasses a juvenile eagle during its flying lesson above Channel Heights on July 5. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carooll)

Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

A crow harasses a juvenile eagle during its flying lesson above Channel Heights on July 5. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carooll)
This photo shows the Dec. 19 sunrise. (Courtesy Phoyo / Lauren Verrelli)

Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Reader-submitted photos of Southeast Alaska.

This photo shows the Dec. 19 sunrise. (Courtesy Phoyo / Lauren Verrelli)
Harbor seals have a face full of whiskers, which the seals use to follow hydrodynamic wakes left by prey fish; even a blind seal can track a fish this way, discriminating victims by size and shape and direction of movement.  (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)

On the Trails: The sense of touch

Touch is a mechanical sense, detecting physical stimuli such as pressure, texture, stretch, vibrations and flow. Touch receptors come in a variety of forms —… Continue reading

Harbor seals have a face full of whiskers, which the seals use to follow hydrodynamic wakes left by prey fish; even a blind seal can track a fish this way, discriminating victims by size and shape and direction of movement.  (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
A "fogbow" on a northbound ship headed for Juneau in late summer. (Courtesy Photo / Paul F. Merrill)
A "fogbow" on a northbound ship headed for Juneau in late summer. (Courtesy Photo / Paul F. Merrill)
A heron stands near Mendenhall Lake. (Courtesy Photo)
Video

November brings bright sights

A good snowfall in early November drew us out to enjoy the brightened landscape…

A heron stands near Mendenhall Lake. (Courtesy Photo)
Video
Alan Alda, center, was host of PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers” when he visited Alaska in 2004. To his right is By Valentine, who worked in the glaciers lab at the Geophysical Institute with glaciologist Keith Echelmeyer (on Alda’s left). Echelmeyer died of brain cancer six years after Alda’s visit. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell, enhanced 18 years later by JR Ancheta)

Alaska Science Forum: Alan Alda and the Alaska messengers

Climate change in the Arctic and Alaska is substantial; we can see signals it has arrived…”

Alan Alda, center, was host of PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers” when he visited Alaska in 2004. To his right is By Valentine, who worked in the glaciers lab at the Geophysical Institute with glaciologist Keith Echelmeyer (on Alda’s left). Echelmeyer died of brain cancer six years after Alda’s visit. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell, enhanced 18 years later by JR Ancheta)
The author isn't a big fan of atmospheric rivers, but the forest variety are very much appreciated. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Tireless thankfulness

One should never tire of writing columns about gratitude. I hope I never do.

The author isn't a big fan of atmospheric rivers, but the forest variety are very much appreciated. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)