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On the road again

Image: 
Cora, a lab/blue heeler mix, will be going on a long walk
with Ned Rozell this summer. Photo by Ned Rozell
LJ Evans

This summer marks 20 years since Ned Rozell decided to take his dog for a really long walk. In fact, in 1997 the GI science writer and Jane walked the entire length of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay. That's a little over 800 miles of mountains, streams, rivers, moose, hares and bears. This summer he's decided to commemorate the anniversary by doing it again.

Former UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers a few years ago suggested the 20th anniversary walk. Ned says the idea stuck.

Jane crossed the rainbow bridge in 2000, so this time he'll be making the walk in the company of Cora, a tiny lab mixed with blue heeler. The plan is for man and dog to set out from Valdez on April 30. Ned's wife Kristen and 10-year-old daughter Anna will join him for some of the trip. So will friends. GI Director Bob McCoy wants to join in for a bit. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, director of the GI 20 years ago, has also expressed interest in perhaps a trail visit.

Ned has been mentally planning this trip since Rogers' suggestion. The logistics of staging such an expedition are daunting. He has to anticipate fairly accurately everything he and Cora need to eat months ahead of time and arrange for the food to be delivered to him at the time and the place he expects to need it. This is especially tricky because for about half of the pipeline's length there is no reliable cell phone, wifi service or even landline telephone. Once Ned and Cora travel north of the community of Haystack, on the Elliott Highway about 12 miles north of Fox, they will be out of cell service and also beyond the range of electrical transmission lines.

The technology's improved a little for this second go-round, Ned said. He'll be carrying a hand-held satellite device so followers will be able to track his progress on the GI webpages, and Alaska newspapers will also be publishing columns from the trail.

You can read about Ned and Jane's excellent adventure the first time around in a book he wrote titled Walking My Dog Jane, available at Gulliver's Books (http://www.shopgulliversbooks.com/), as well as other local book emporiums.

Below, left, Ned and Jane in Coldfoot in 1997. Photo by Ned Rozell

Below, right, Ned Rozell skiing Fairbanks to Nenana April 1. Photo courtesy Ned Rozell