My recent return from Alaska left me with a wealth of new experiences and new friends. It remains a truly wondrous and wild place that everyone should visit. However, as I mentioned during the trip, the impact of climate change is obvious and alarming. Just comparing my kayaking pictures from three years ago, the glaciers have receded a great deal and most have lost any snow cover. If you doubt that climate change is real, go to Alaska and speak to the fishermen and guides. It also has apparently taken a devastating toll on salmon. When I was flying to Alaska, I was speaking to some avid fishermen in the airport who said that they have been going to Alaska for a couple decades and have never seen so few salmon. It turns out that they were right. Scientists have reported that salmon are experiencing a massive die off due to the higher temperatures. Other remote areas a reporting unheard of temperatures and melting. Greenland alone has lost 12.6 billion tons of ice IN ONE DAY — in a record meltdown.Continue reading “Report: Massive Die-Off Of Salmon Due To Higher Temperatures”
One the greatest highlights of the trip to Alaska was returning to join Nenana Raft Adventures (www.raftdenali.com) on a whitewater adventure in Denali. This is one of my favorite companies, run by Judith White, who is a fixture in Denali with Nenana Raft Adventures and Denali Paddlesports. Judy attracts top raft operators from all over the country and the company is takes every precaution to give amateurs a safe but exciting time on Class Four runs along the Denali National Park. It is a wonderful way to break up days hiking at Denali and we had a ball.Read more
On our final full day in Alaska, we selected the Crow Creek trail. This was my first time on the trail but we received excellent advice from Jimmy Stokes, an amazing hotel staff member at the Alyeska Hotel in Girdwood. Jimmy saw us hiking and suggested Crow Creek. He gave us a map and great advice for the challenging hike. Like all things Jimmy, we soon discovered that he was right on the money with distances and other details. Alyeska is a terrific hotel that celebrates everything Alaska to its great food and outdoor adventures. Jimmy is an example of how the staff go the extra mile for every guest. This trail was a highlight of the trip.Continue reading “Day 10: Hiking Crow Creek”
On our eighth day, we went kayaking around the glaciers at Blackstone Bay near Whittier with Alaska Sea Kayakers. This is my second trip with the company and I could not recommend them more highly. The owner, Pete, is a fixture (and Vice Mayor) in Whittier and has been doing this work for decades. They are incredibly professional and excellent environmental stewards. We had two highly experienced guides, Todd and Kevin (who turned out to be a UConn law student), who were a wealth of knowledge about the animal life and glaciers.Continue reading “The Wonder of Blackstone Bay”
This morning I took my usual dawn hike on Billy Goat trail in Maryland on a very misty morning. It was my last hike before flying North to Alaska on Sunday for a speech in Anchorage and then a couple weeks of hiking, rafting, and kayaking around Alaska. I will be doing a daily travel blog from Alaska and hopefully posting a columns on other subjects.Continue reading “A Misty Morning on Billy Goat Trail”
Below is my column in Los Angeles Times on the growing number of people pledging to “storm Area 51.” What they could find is far more unnerving than alien parts in jars.
Here is my column:Continue reading “The Truth Is Out There: The Secrets Of Area 51 Have A More Earthly And Lethal Story”
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
We feature another installment of photos from my recent holiday in Ireland–some things old, some things new, and some things seemingly eternal.
Click each to enlargeContinue reading “Photos From Ireland: Part Two”
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
I returned from Ireland having experienced the beauty of Donegal and Sligo Counties at the North West of the republic. The countryside has a nature unto its own. Here are some photographs.
Click to enlargeContinue reading “Photos From Ireland: Part One”
Voortrekker (“Pioneer”) is arguably the world’s most photographed and famous living elephant. Thousands of tourists would go to Namibia to see the massive elephant with its signature perfect ears and profile. One tourist however came not just to admire but to kill the famous elephant. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) agreed to allow the unnamed trophy hunter to shoot Pioneer for N$120 000. It was not hard. Pioneer was famous in part because of his gentle and friendly demeanor. It was like shooting a couch, but someone can now claim to have killed the most famous elephant in the world. The rest of us can look at pictures.
We have previously discussed studies showing an astonishing number of deaths linked to the use of bunker fuel by container shipping — a cheap but remarkably dirty fuel source. The other industry that uses the intensely polluting fuel is the passenger cruise industry. Cruise ships have been routinely cited for poor environmental practices, particularly Carnival Corp which was hit recently with yet another massive fine. Now, a report by Transport & Environment has found that Carnival produced in 2017 nearly 10 times more sulphur oxide (SOx) around European coasts than all 260 million European cars.Continue reading “Study: Carnival Cruise Ships Produce 10 Times The Sulphur Oxide As All 260 Million European Cars”
We have previously discussed trophy hunters who post images of their kills. That kill thrill is hard for many of us to understand but it is particularly bizarre when the kill is illegal. That is the case of three hunters who killed a mountain lion in Yellowstone National Park in Montana in violation of the Lacey Act. Yellowstone special agent Jake Olson and others took a year but it finally caught Austin Peterson, 20, Trey Juhnke, 20, and Corbin Simmons, 19. The three were sentenced in May.Continue reading “Three Men Arrested After Shooting Mountain Lion In Yellowstone And Then Bragging On Social Media”
The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington culminated in the planting of a French oak tree as a symbol of the long-standing friendship of the two nations. Unbeknownst to most watching, the tree was promptly dug back up after the ceremony and sent to quarantine. Regrettably, the tree (like relations with France) has died in quarantine.Continue reading “Macron’s Tree of Friendship To White House Dies In Quarantine”
As many of you know, I often accept speeches in areas where I can pursue my love for hiking. For that reason, returning to Albuquerque, New Mexico was an offer to give the keynote at the Judicial Conclave that did not need to be repeated. New Mexico is an amazing state with some of the most challenging but spectacular trails in the world. I used my free day on Saturday to tackle the famed La Luz Trail that runs through both the Sandia Mountains and the Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands. This is a punishing trail that can be extended to 13 miles. It is not for the faint of heart. It is a steady and sharp climb for miles under the beating sun of New Mexico. You literally walk to toward the light on La Luz. Much like my Pino trail hike a few years ago, I was entirely spent by the end of this hike.
As many of you know, I am a huge advocate of hiking and particularly our national parks. We have amazing parks and most of us take great efforts to avoid leaving traces or causing damage to our natural areas. That is why a recent arrest is so alarming. Recently, three South Korean nationals were charged after an arrest at Los Angeles International Airport with a van filled with more than 3,700 Dudleya succulents. The spiky blue-green plants are prized in Asia. The men were tracked as they stripped parks of the plants and stuffed them into backpacks.Continue reading “South Koreans Arrested After Stripping National Parks Of Succulents For Illegal Export”
Two crew members of an Icelandic fishing vessel have caused a global outrage after they filmed themselves hacking off the tail of a shark and then laughing as they threw it into the river. The disturbing video captures the utter cruelty of the men as they enjoy the scene of a suffering creature trying to swim without a tail.Continue reading “Icelandic Fishermen Under Fire After Posting Cruel Video of Mutilated Shark”