hiking the Keystone XL pipeline


I wanted to learn everything about the environmental battle. I saw a country marked by apathy, and flickers of hope.

I’d felt strangely drawn to the Keystone XL.

In the fall of 2011, when I fantasized about walking the length of the 1,700-mile proposed pipeline — that, if approved, will carry oil from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast of Texas — I was a lowly dishwasher at an oilman’s camp in Deadhorse, Alaska.

At the time, I was broke, just out of grad school, and demoralized with my situation. I had a miserable job that didn’t require a high school diploma, let alone the liberal arts degree that had nearly bankrupted me, and I was living in quite possibly the coldest, darkest, dreariest place on earth. I was an adventurer at heart, burdened with the duties of making a living.

I can say, from experience, that when you find yourself washing spoon after spoon, in the middle of the night, in a silent kitchen, at a working camp 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, you will begin to question the direction of your life. But I can say this also: The soul must first be caged before it can be freed. And when Liam, the cook I worked with, suggested we go on an adventure the next summer and hike the XL, I knew his idea was both crazy and brilliant. I looked at him and said, with what must have been an almost frightening excitement, “We must!” …

read more on Salon – My 1,700-mile hike across the XL Pipeline


You might ask: WHY would they transport dirty oil so far?

… The Port Arthur refinery operates as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), which traditionally gives tax benefits to companies that use imported components to manufacture items within the United States. Usually refineries importing oil tax-free will still pay taxes when selling the refined products into the U.S. market. By both importing into and exporting from Port Arthur the company will avoid paying tax on the product sales.

A pretty sweet deal for Valero Energy Corporation (VLO).


I’ll be very surprised if President Obama does not approve the Pipeline.

But remove that corporate tax giveaway … ??

NEW – world’s highest national park

The world’s highest national park, the Qomolangma National Park, located on the border of China and Nepal with a total area of 78,000 square kilometers has been inaugurated.

The park includes five mountain peaks with altitudes of more than 8,000 meters

Qomolangma is Tibet’s third national park after the Namtso National Park, which was recently inaugurated near a holy lake for Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims, and the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon National Park that opened in 2010.

The parks are part of the Tibetan efforts to turn the region into “an important world destination.” …

Press TV

Actually, not much has improved for the independent hiker in Tibet since I was there late 1990s.

Don’t go — unless you are willing to sign on to an expensive and often frustrating group tour. Or are willing to trek “illegally”, as we did.

Support Nepal instead.

(via National Parks Traveler)

related – Seven Tibetans Self-Immolate This Week

At least 62 Tibetans have lit themselves on fire since 2009 in protest of Chinese rule in Tibet.

Edward Abbey – “I Loved it…I Loved it All”

Ned Judge:

An eight minute film essay that I co-produced and directed with Ed Abbey in 1985. …

We met in Moab and went out to Arches National Park to shoot some practice sessions with a home video camera. We would review them at the motel in the evening. After a day or two, Ed was feeling pretty comfortable on camera so we scheduled the shoot. We were all happy with the way it went.

But then we ran head-on into network reality. Roger Mudd, the show’s host, was extremely negative about putting an “eco-terrorist” on the show. … So this Abbey essay was put on the shelf and never aired.

Abbey died 3 years later in March 1989.

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo.


Edward Paul Abbey (January 29, 1927 – March 14, 1989) was an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views. His best-known works include the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which has been cited as an inspiration by radical environmental groups, and the non-fiction work Desert Solitaire. Writer Larry McMurtry referred to Abbey as the “Thoreau of the American West“. …

The story of his death and burial is … very Abbey.

Those two books are MUST READS for any serious outdoorsperson.

(via Rocky who calls Edward Abbey the Hunter Thompson of the environment)