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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One Man's Paradise

The Brooks Range

“As I walked for hours beneath the stupendous grandeur of the mountains, I felt humble and insignificant.”

Bob Marshall

Bob Marshall explored the Brooks Range in the 30s. It was his life-long goal to find true wilderness. Only natives and a few miners had ventured into the Brooks Range before that. He described his adventures in Arctic Travels. Between his matter of fact observations he sprinkled a few remarks like the one above.

I was able to hike a day here and there into this remote mountain range that comes as close to true wilderness as it gets.  There are two native villages to speak of Anaktuvuk Pass and Arctic Village, and a few hamlets like Bettles, Coldfoot, and Wiseman. All in all less than 1000 folks living along the 700 mile long stretch of mountains that is crossed by just one road, the Dalton Highway.

The remoteness and ruggedness of these mountains has helped to maintain its wild character. Gates of the Arctic National Park covers the central part of the Brooks Range. In most years it is the least visited national park in the US. Isn’t that interesting?

The picture above was taken from the top of Sukakpak, with Mt. Dillon in the foreground.

 

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One Man's Paradise

Where Days and Nights Unite

It’s been a while.

Life above the Arctic Circle has been amazing and exhausting at the same time. There has been an abundance of daylight since I arrived in the Brooks Range in June. The days have blended into one long period filled with constant change. After a long winter the reemergence of life seems overwhelming. I almost feel like there is no time to rest. Every week a new set of wildflowers appeared, wilted and went to seeds,. Berries are beginning to ripen, and the end of summer is approaching fast.

I have seen musk ox, caribou, fox, and lynx.

I have climbed mountains, crossed the tundra, and waded through rivers.

Today, is the first time I find the time to post a picture and collect some thoughts.

The picture was taken near Galbraith Lake at one o’clock in the morning.

More to come.

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Note to self

Crossroads and Intersections

crossrads


“I see myself at crossroads in my life,
mapless, lacking bits of knowledge

then, the Moon breaks through,
lights up the path before me…”

John Geddes


Well, I definitely see myself at crossroads, not just a simple right or left turn. My map is full of intersections, highways and dirt roads. The problem is, which one to take. I know, the destination is not the important part, it’s the journey.

Maybe the Moon will shine tonight and tell me which way to go.

That’s the beauty (and dilemma) of seasonal work. Once the season comes to an end you have to make changes to your life. Move, idle, work? Search and choose…

I seem to be content with changing things up. After a couple of structured months with responsibilities for others and work schedules, leisure seems attractive. Then, after enjoying the great freedom for a while, a daily routine does not appear that bad.

Not working is not as easy as it sounds. The question of a purpose in life comes up. Once you have a work schedule that issue seems to be clouded over. With a lot of free time, it pops up.

Obviously, I have to much time to think…

I am probably going with Robert Frost. Have a great weekend, y’all.


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

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Nature

A Ride in the Park

sea

“The purpose of life is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Eleanor Roosevelt


Alright, it was a cold, clear night. For the first time in days I could see the surroundings of West Yellowstone. The town is still in hibernation, only locals frequent the supermarket, the bars, and the occasional  coffee shop. Everything else is till boarded up.

There are still 2 feet of snow on the ground, huge snow piles cover the parking lots.  Around ten o’clock I had my hot chocolate and a pastry, ready to roll. I was dressed like an explorer near the North pole, plastic double boots, fleece pants, insulated snow pants, fleece and soft shell, mittens, the whole yard. It felt right, given temps were still in the teens. Soon after the park entrance I encountered my first group of bison. Probably the first biker of the season. We checked each other out. Females and their young. We came to an agreement. Giving each other space…

A few miles later three big bulls…

Different story. They did not feel like budging, standing in the middle of the road, staring at me, not giving an inch. Luckily a maintenance worker came by in his pickup truck and offered me to stay on his safe side while passing the big boys. Hope they are gone on the way back 🙂

I rode 14 miles following the Madison river to the junction. Just north of the junction I found a thermal feature with bubbling water, a lot of steam and some hoar frost. That was beautiful.

On the way back I ran into 4 groups of other bikers, including a tandem. Bike season has started, even it is still nippy around here.

Luckily, the male bison were gone!

Can’t wait to shed some layers, although that may not happen soon, according to the forecast. It looks like snow and rain and wind for another week…

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One Man's Paradise

Another Day in Paradise

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.”

Edward Abbey


Ed had an uncanny ability to express fundamental truth in words that anybody could understand, if they were only willing to listen. He has written more than just “Desert Solitaire” and “The Monkey Wrench Gang”…

When am I going to find the time to read all these books?

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Nature

Mammoth Hot Springs – № 2

“You can always back up
and pick a new fork.”

Kary Mullis


What’s the connection between Kary Mullis and Yellowstone National Park, you ask?

Well, Thermus aquaticus, a thermophilic, chemotroph bacterium was discovered in Yellowstone National Park. A number of enzymes were identified in this organism that likes to grow in 70 °C warm water. Make that 70 °C hot water. One of the enzymes, Taq polymerase, was later used in a technique called PCR, which revolutionized molecular biology. PCR is the brainchild of Kary Mullis.

If you want to read more about Kary Mullis, beware! You might find some strange believes and come across extraterrestrials in the form of a green fluorescent raccoon.

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