Conservation

Your Country

“Here is your country. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

Theodore Roosevelt


I wish I could find contemporary quotes that seem worthy printing.

What will people say about us in hundred years?

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One Man's Paradise

Fall Colors – September 5, 2018

“I don’t like autumn. Yes of course, the colors are nice, but they’re the colors of necrosis.”

Hendrik Groen

What a grump. Actually, the secret diary of diary of Hendrik Groen is apparently an enjoyable book. The name is a pseudonym, so we really can’t ask what Hendrik really thinks about fall.

I see a shark.

What do you see?

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One Man's Paradise

Sukakpak Mountain

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What was once an ancient seabed is now visible as one of the most recognizable mountains of the Brooks Range. Just 4,459 ft but close to the Dalton Hwy., so it can be climbed in a day. The limestone deposit was subjected to intense heat and pressure, which caused it to metamorphose into marble. Slowly crumbling away. Apparently ice forms in the winter, attracting hardy ice climbers. The East slopes just beg for some back country skiing.

Like a hunter and gatherer I collected this image on a rare calm day with interesting clouds swirling around the mountain. On June 13 I stood alone on top of the mountain. IT Is hard to express the awe, peace, and humility I felt.

“Over the years I have discovered that each minute spent in the Arctic – whether in a tent in foul weather, on top of a breath-taking mountain, or in the midst of ten thousand caribou – carries the fullness of a rare wilderness experience.”

Debbie Miller

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One Man's Paradise

Brooks Range: Horizons

“I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Summer 2018 seems to go into the record books as a relatively cool and wet one, quite in contrast to the rest of the nation. Nevertheless, there were clear, warm, breezy, and calm days sprinkled into the mix. The constantly changing weather patterns made for great photo opportunities, I think. Rainy days were used for sorting through my images, making pastry, doing laundry, roughly in that order.

blog-22 On my blueberry and mushroom expeditions, I ended frequently on ridge tops, which offered the best views of the immensity of the Brooks Range, short of being in a bush plane. Haven’t seen a single paraglider, although these hills are just calling for it. Gentle slopes in all directions, no powerlines, no fences… Once in a while a golden eagle or a pair of ravens are cruising along the ridge lines, showing me where the upwinds are. The same hills should make for amazing backcountry skiing, sans the cold… Maybe I will come back in March or April, when the winter temperatures may be bearable, and come to think of it, when there is also sufficient daylight for this activity. At night, I could watch the northern lights.

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Endicott Mountains, Brooks Range, Alaska

The oldtimers say September brings cooler, clear days. We shall see. The North Slope has already been blanketed several times with a couple inches of snow.

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Conservation

Gentle Giants

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Musk Ox, North Slope, Alaska

One of my hopes coming up here was to see musk ox. Several groups of this hardy animal had been seen near the Dalton Highway, but they remained elusive, when I traveled up north. Then, one drizzly afternoon, there they were, walking next to the road. Smaller than expected, moving with poise despite hordes of mosquitoes swarming around their heads. What does that eye tell you?

Inupiaqs call this “the animal with skin like a beard”. Musk ox live in the open tundra, where there is no place to hide, not from weather nor from predators. Apparently they have changed little since the last ice age and are well-adapted to the harsh living conditions of the arctic.

Musk oxen are more closely related to sheep and goats than bison and buffalo, if you ask a taxonomists. They disappeared from Alaska in the 1800’s, due to over-hunting, what else is new? In 1930, 34 musk oxen were captured in Greenland and reintroduced to Nunivak Island. From there musk oxen were transplanted to former habitats. Today, there are more than 3000 musk oxen found in Alaska. Considering the size of the state it is still a rare event to spot one of these gregarious animals.

Some folks call this another success story in wildlife conservation. I call it another sad example of the devastating effect of inconsiderate human behavior that lead to the extinction in the first place.

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One Man's Paradise

Life in the Arctic

“What shocked me the most about the polar regions was neither the cold nor the remoteness, but a bewildering confrontation with my own lack of understanding.”

Galen Rowell

When Galen Rowell visited the Brooks Range for the first time, he was not prepared for the loss of daily rhythms, such as sunrise and sunset. He describes the time as “flowing without punctuation “and “days merging into undark nights”.

Especially after a long winter this period of continuous daylight becomes a challenge to all visitors of the polar regions. Life seems abundant, with constant change. No time to sleep, no time to rest.

Well, it’s the end of August. The midnight sun has come and gone. For a few hours the sky turns dark at night. For the first time in several months I have seen stars. Last night the Northern Lights were dancing above the mountains. The tundra colors have changed from lush green to red, orange, yellow, and brown in some places. Quite a display.

About 2 more weeks for me in the Arctic. I will savor every day, rain or shine.

 

 

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One Man's Paradise

The Arctic

“A land of enormous geometry etched by the cutting edge of light. Implacable, raw, elemental, beautiful and threatened.”

T. H. Watkins

A picture-perfect day at the North Slope. 140 miles of undulating hills covered with wet tundra until the Arctic Ocean. This is the place that unimaginable herds of caribou crossed in the spring to give birth to their young, to escape from the mosquitoes and to find summer feeding grounds. Come fall the migration pattern reverses.

Musk ox and arctic foxes roam this place that looks so innocent on a warm and sunny day. It will turn into a frigid, wind-blown freezer that only a few species can tolerate and even thrive in.

This place needs to be experienced with all senses. A photograph does not do it justice. It will serve me as a reminder of  a summer north of the Arctic Circle.

 

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