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Viewed in a single lifetime, changes to our landscape have been significant

I have seen some striking changes to our Alaska landscape. You need not achieve “geezer” status in age to notice the glacier rapid retreat.

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Knowing when to turn around is crucial in outdoor survival

The motto of Alaska outdoor survival and rescue instructor Brian Horner is “Learn to Return,” and I fully embrace that philosophy.

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Canada’s Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park offers a splendid hiking getaway

My friend Mark Fraker and I had begun our hike from Cathedral Lakes Lodge in the Cascade mountains, about 235 miles east of Vancouver, B.C.

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Bear encounters sharpened my awareness

I know of a bear biologist who spent some 40 years tromping around Kodiak Island, often without a gun; who never had problems with bears.

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With no wind, Eklutna Lake was glass, mirroring the snow-capped mountains and the emerging green on their lower flanks.

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It was a sunny, blistering hot day at Seward July 4 where about 1000 runners participated in the 91st Mt. Marathon Race.

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Supreme Pet Peeves and our ability to cope

There are the minor pet peeves, such as ketchup that won’t pour from the bottle despite aggressive tapping and shaking that suddenly releases a wet avalanche upon the plate. There is incessant internet spam on our computers. And how about telephone robo-calls? But with perseverance, we can learn to deal with these kinds of annoyances.

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Memorial Day came and went a month ago. It was celebrated with picnics, barbeques, and furniture store sales. But for some, Memorial Day is all about honoring and remembering the servicemen and women who have given their all for the freedoms we all so very cherish.

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Spring

This is a male flower. The red things are anthers. When the anthers are mature, they will break open (dehisce), and the pollen will come out.

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Wind strums South Fork’s Harp, turning Spring into Winter

The snow on the lower slopes of the mountain had been packed hard by previous hikers and made the hiking easy, but the southeast wind was bone-chilling. I started the climb about 12:30 p.m. on April 30th, thinking this would be a nice Spring jaunt and another chance to test out my left knee that was replaced last year.Harp Mountain had other plans. By the time I reached the first big hump, at about 2,500 feet, the wind was gusting to about 40 miles per hour (mph).

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A northward jaunt extends winter, or does it?

In early May avalanches had become a danger in the mountains, so in an attempt to salvage the last of winter, I drove about 200 miles north while gaining two degrees of latitude. Recent snowfalls in the Alaska Range had blanketed the mountains and lowlands near the Denali Highway in pure white satin. On May 7th skies were mostly clear and there was hardly a breath of wind. But at mid-day, the temperature was in the high 40s. Was this winter?

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Encumbered by my 48-inch long snowshoes that I’ve bragged about so often in this space, movement was painfully slow amidst the tangle of willows and hemlock trees. It felt like I was trying to steer two battleships through a jungle. Not content on Saturday, April 14th to ski 6-1/2 miles to the Kenai Peninsula’s Crescent Lake Saddle Cabin, I told my friends it would be fun to hike up through the low pass south of the cabin to reach a divide that surely would offer a great view of Kenai Lake.

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Talkin’ trash is a rite of spring

This past winter the trash fairy returned to Anchorage and Eagle River. And as always, she gleefully deposited tons of refuse along our streets and byways. From May 1 to May 8, thousands of citizens will mount an assault on this miserable, mephitic, malodorous mess, asking themselves the same question over and over: Where does it all come from?Here’s a number for you: 4 million. That’s the amount of trash, in pounds, that was collected during one of Anchorage and Eagle River spring cleanups.

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We love our trails: Outdoor recreationists come in many types and styles

Generalizing about people is risky, to say the least. But after many years on our trails, I’ve observed several types of recreationists. I thought it might be fun to light-heartedly point some of them out.

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Chugach Park Fund supports trails and other park amenities

The park receives tens of thousands of visitors each year and attracts a steadily increasing number of tourists. The year 2020 will mark the park’s 50th Anniversary. With state revenues declining in recent years, budgets for park trails and other amenities have been severely constrained. Recognizing a growing need for maintenance of park facilities and development of trails, a 15-member group called the Chugach State Park Citizen Advisory Board created the Chugach Park Fund in 2016.

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