Ground Truth Trekking

Essays and Articles

by Erin McKittrick 

from various magazines/newspapers (many from the Alaska Dispatch News) and on this site.

Tidepool wonder: Kachemak Bay low tide reveals richness in color, life

Claws scuttle across pearly pink ground. Crimson tufts erupt from the ends of tangled white tubes. A wavering tentacle probes from behind a thicket of brown. Then — a monstrous crash...Erin McKittrick, Jul 5, 2015 

Visiting where the first Americans may have tread 

The winds died. The craggy cliffs disappeared. The world turned flat and white. Sometimes, heading down the beach in the morning, when it looked just the same as yesterday and the kids wanted to play “Pooh and Piglet and the Sabertooth Tiger” and “Pretend Easter Egg Hunt in the Mud Melt Holes” -- just the same as yesterday -- the world seemed endless...Erin McKittrick, May 31, 2015 

Walking a windswept 500 miles to Kotzebue with 2 kids

Bryan Weyauvanna stepped off his snowmachine, gulped the last of his thermos of coffee, and gestured at one of the mountains behind Cape Woolley, pastel pink in the setting sun. “That mountain? It’s 3870 on the map, but in my language, it’s Singatook. And when you see a cloud up there, that means it’s going to be windy.”...Erin McKittrick, Apr 12, 2015

Getting up close and personal with Alaska's coastline

By some measures, Alaska has more than 49,000 miles of coastline, more than the Lower 48 states combined. The closer you look, the longer the shore gets. With ShoreZone, it's almost possible to zoom in until every barnacle and pebble stands out in sharp relief.Erin McKittrick
Spread out the maps and start dreaming. In winter, Alaska explorers pore over maps, imagining the possibilities of next year's trip. Erin McKittrick
    In any economy, some people can work for their neighbors -- fixing their roads, teaching their kids, selling them gas. But to bring anything in from outside, you need to have something that outsiders need.
Perhaps we just have nothing else to talk about out here in the sticks. But weather is fascinating. Inescapable. I always seem to be plunging myself right into it, skating down a trail-turned-mudslide with a gaggle of gooey children, stumbling into the sting of driving snow, or holding a tent against the shuddering wind. Even getting sunburned.
A 10-day journey with four young children in tow shows the beauty of Alaska's oldest state park.Erin McKittrick
Thousands of Alaskans live without indoor plumbing; for some, it's due to a lack of alternatives. But for others, it's a lifestyle choice, a chance to commune with nature on the walk down the path, with a view of the mountains and the woods.Erin McKittrick
I miss pavement more often than I'd like to admit. I fantasize about a beautiful paved bike trail winding through the hills, far from the dust clouds of the gravel road. Erin McKittrick
Spring in Alaska is the season of sea stars, sunglasses, seedlings and skis. Sometimes finding jaw-dropping wonder is as simple as a change in elevation.Erin McKittrick
We build Alaska out of what we bring in from Washington state on four container ships a week. And then we send Alaska back -- but 80 percent of those containers return to Tacoma empty.Erin McKittrick
For someone accustomed to traveling by foot and raft, at a pace of 200 miles per month, even taking the ferry in Southeast Alaska can feel blisteringly fast. But there's certainly time enough to contemplate the surroundings. Erin McKittrick

Now vs. Never vs. Later

Natural Gas in Cook Inlet and the pitfalls of short-term planning.  The Case for Leaving Wealth in the Ground. (2012)

As the Beaches Wash Away

Global warming and its impacts on coastal erosion, as explored through an journey to Alaska's Malaspina Glacier. (2012)

Running with Red Dog

As we traveled through the region, I tried to discover whether Red Dog Mine was a godsend to the local economy, a disaster waiting to happen, or maybe all of the above? (2010)

Reflections on Glacier Bay

- by Erin McKittrick.  From the Journey on the Wild Coast, originally published in National Parks Magazine (Winter 2010).

The Dead and the Dying

A journey through the diminishing glaciers of the southern Kenai Peninsula with three generations of family. (2009)

Lost Forests on the Lost Coast

A short expedition to explore remediation, rebirth, and the aftermath of logging on the Gulf of Alaska coast (2009).

A Long Trek Home photoessay

- by Erin McKittrick.  Published in Wend Magazine (Summer 2009).

The Fruits of Insanity

A cold and windy February odyssey in the Kenai Fjords. Or how a pair of unusual people feed off eachother to produce something a little bit wonderful, and a little bit insane. (2007)

Where Threatened Waters Flow

A journey through the watersheds downstream of the proposed Pebble Mine, through wilderness, communities, and an uncertain future.(2006)

Proposed Mine Endangers Bristol Bay

- by Erin McKittrick.  From the Alaska Wilderness League Newsletter (February 2007, page 6.)

Site of the Proposed Pebble Mine

- by Erin McKittrick.  A photo essay on my 2005 trip to the Pebble Mine site in Environment News Service. Or read it on my page


And read trip journals from over a dozen older trips on our old AK Trekking website.


by David Coil

Metals Recycling: A Necessary Start

A discussion on the complexity and necessity of metals recycling, focusing on aluminum as an example. (2010)

Reconsidering the "Value" of Gold

Thoughts on the arbitrary value of gold, as contrasted with the environmental destruction caused by mining it. (2010)

by Others


Walking on Oil

-by Andrew Mattox (2012).  Modern day backpacking, synthetic gear, and the realization that we are all made of oil.

New Eyes, Old Ice: My First Glacier Experience

-by Mike Borden (2012).  An account of a photojournalism trek to Grewingk Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula.

Circling the sound

- by Bjorn Olson and Kim McNett (2011).  A journey essay describing an environmentally-focused circumnavigation of Prince William Sound in a homemade kayak during summer 2010.

Close Encounter with a Grizzly Bear

- by Mike Borden (2010). A detailed account of a dangerous grizzly encounter in southcentral Alaska, along with practical information about bear safety and bear spray.