Save your adventure

Thoughts on journaling are squirreled away in 3 sub-subcategories of JuneauNature. Some, below, are here in Media types>Journals. Others are in Tools>Journaling and Tools>Field sketching. This section on journal media includes a few that were produced during consulting jobs around Southeast. So it might be helpful to preface the whole array with my philosophy on who “owns” a journal.

I started journaling around the time I dropped out of college and decided to become a mountain man. Since the mid-1970s, I can pretty much look up where I was and what I was learning for any month or season. Not many naturalists journal anymore, which is a shame.

Back cover of my rite-in-the-rain journal from a trip to Chuck River in 1985 with my mentor, the hydrologist Dan Bishop, and his ironman sidekick Leigh Smith. Leigh was the instigator for this shoulder patch design, which we never got around to ordering for Dan’s consulting business, Environaid. More history is in Mediatypes>Bishop-Environaid, and in Nature>Habitats>Aquatic>Moving water.

I journal indiscriminately, whether for work or play. In fact, my ‘play’ journals are probably longer on average than the ‘work’ journals. At ‘work,’ an intriguing negotiation plays out over the course of some consulting projects. Typically, I’m hired for a rather narrowly-defined ‘deliverable,’ such as field assistance and GIS on botanical surveys. This leaves little time for journaling, which has to happen later, ‘on my own nickle.’ That’s fine by me; I’m grateful to each client for the opportunity to explore new watersheds and provinces. I recognize my broader natural history interests may have little relevance to project goals and budgets.

What happens next varies by client. Although I ‘own’ the journal at that point, I’m unauthorized to share it in cases where, say, a developer might feel blindsided by release of ‘insider’ inforrmation. I share at least a portion of the draft journal with the client, who may respond in 3 ways. The journal is either:

1  Inappropriate for distribution. Prospective developers, for example, have a rigid set of hoops to jump through, and a journal, like Pandora, could spawn additional hoops. I honor this request, and keep the journal only as ‘raw material’ in my personal library.

2  Useful as an internal document, not shared outside a set of collaborators. It’s either accepted as a gift from me, or purchased, usually at a reduction from my normal consulting fee. (After all, I write it primarily for my own edification.)

3  Useful and releasable to the public. One example is the Mud Bay journal, written on contract with SEAL Trust, one of the links below. Another is the Soule journal, which our client purchased and uploaded to the public record.

Philosophically, this range of reactions to an informal (even quirky) but extremely detailed natural history report raises questions about how we as a society react to ‘information.’ In science, theoretically, all information is good. In advocacy, information is good or bad depending on whether it supports our campaign.

In reality, I’ve seen both responses from both ends of the science-vs-advocacy spectrum. Some “scientists” (perhaps an overly generous title?) suppress or even censor others’ findings. And sometimes project advocates conclude all cards should be dealt face-up. In the latter scenario, the community (and advocate!) ultimately, wins.

My manifesto on journaling is called Recording nature: Field journalling as raven goes global.

Another great edited collection on the beautiful utility of journaling is Field notes on science & nature, Canfield, ed, 2011.

In this section

Teachers visit Angoon

Weekend in Xutsnoowú Aaní On the cusp of March and April, an inspired and inspiring group of teachers, organizers and…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 41 pages

1993 teacher workshops: scouting journal

Notes from explorations with Streveler Discovery’s ‘on-the-road’ teacher training series occupied all of February, March and April of 1993. This…

1993 | Richard Carstensen | 11 pages

Disco to Ford’s Terror, 1994

All in the timing   In days before accurate tide tables, this place would indeed have gotten your attention. The…

1996 | Richard Carstensen | 10 pages

Discovery naturalists at Asx̱’ée

Cybertracking the ‘power outlet’ On July 29th, 2022, 14 Discovery naturalists and their 3 visiting instructors gathered on tidal sand…

2022 | Richard Carstensen | 23 page journal excerpt & pageflippers

Teachers at Fish Creek, 2022

Four days at the delta and Eaglecrest From June 9 to 12, 2022, Discovery gave the 4th in our series…

2022 | Richard Carstensen | 46 page journal


3D perspectives on Janwú’s home My mountain goat observations dating back to 2015 fill 3 enormous journals. During that time…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 15 pages of excerpts

Teachers’ outings 2021

What a pleasure to hang out with teachers again! From June 10 to 13th, 2021, Steve Merli, Kelly Sorensen and…

Teachers’ outings, 2021

Year-3: Estuaries & steep places Two kinds of landforms & habitats have consumed my attention this winter and spring—estuaries and…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 60 page journal & course manual

Repeat photography Part-2: ground-based

Retakes field journals, 2005 season Summarizing the Repeat Photography Project for 2005, Kathy Hocker and I divided our field reports…

2005, 2nd ed 2013 | Richard Carstensen & Kathy Hocker | 40 pages

Besse-Cowee journal, 2011

Discovery & FSL explore Héen Latinee For experienced backcountry navigators, Bessie Creek trail offers a ‘backdoor’ into the Cowee-Davies watershed,…

2011 | Richard Carstensen | 13 pages

Discovery at Nugget Falls

Goat-watch at Áak’w Kwáan Sít’i (Áak’w people’s glacier) 20201203: Every other Friday, Discovery staff get together for a ‘distanced’ outing.…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | 2 page journal

L’ux̱, murky water (H-word River)

Journal for my favorite glacial valley A scoping document and collection of journals from 40 years of visits to what…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | 62 pages

Cemetery mapping, 1990-2017

College-level field mapping in elementary school Probably the most ambitious project undertaken in my pilot Nature Studies program at Harborview,…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 46 pages

American road trips

An appreciation of 7 good books My father Edwin died in June, 2016 at age 96, in Rochester, New York.…

2016: Update, July, 2020 | Richard Carstensen | 13 pages

Meadow fire at Eagle Beach

Burn succession, Asx‘ée, twisted tree On May 9th, 2020, some camper-kids with lighters ignited a pretty dramatic grassfire at Crow…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | 14-page journal, 6-minute slideshow

Chilkat journal, 20190706-08

A first visit with LCC In July, 2019, Jessica Plachta, director of Lynn Canal Conservation, offered to host my family…

2019 | Richard Carstensen | 61 pages

Tsaa T’ei Héen (Admiralty Cove)

‘Lost village’ of Áak’w Kwáan Every Tlingit Kwáan in Southeast Alaska has at least one ‘lost village,’ known in oral history…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 33 pages

False Island journal 20080806

Four years into the Ground-truthing Project, Bob Christensen and I helped explore northern Shee Ká, above Shee (Peril Strait). This…

2008 | Richard Carstensen | 70 pages

2018 flight, Juneau to Klawock

On July 1st, 2018, I flew from Juneau to Klawock in superb photography weather. Beautiful lighting after we passed out…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 44 pages

2008 flight over Sitka use area

In September, 2008, I ferried to Sitka to help Sitka Conservation Society host funders and biologists. In a Beaver, we…

2008 | Richard Carstensen | 29 pages