Michael Spinner Smith Born:  1948.  Married to Janice Rae Littleton (MD)  (all our children have paws or hoofs).  Two brothers, Stephen (1943-2013) and Andrew (1945-2021).  My parents, Paul (1914-2006) and Ruth (1915-2002) were both educators, my father working his way from high school science teacher to school superintendent in 3 cities and assistant dean at the college of education at Cleveland State.  He authored several science books used in the 1950s and 1960s.  My mother was a sociology teacher and raised 3 boys.  She could be labeled as a saint, but as a Unitarian, she didn’t go in for that sort of stuff. High School:  Pierre S. duPont, Wilmington, DE (valedictorian), 1966 College:  Dartmouth, BA in Chemistry (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), 1970. Medical School:  University of Colorado (magna cum laude, AOA), 1974. Internship:  Presbyterian Medical Center, Denver (Rotating/medicine), 1974-1975. Languages:  English (native), German (B2), Spanish (A2). Military Service: US Navy:  Reserve Ensign, LT (j.g.) 1971-1975.  Active Duty: Medical Officer USS St. Louis (LKA-116), 1975-77; Medical Officer, Amphibious Squadron SEVEN, 1976-77.  Honorably discharged as LT,  5  July 1977. Residency:  University of Arizona, 1977-1980; chief resident, 1979-80. Faculty:  Assistant profesor, University of Arizona, 1979-1981.  Adjunct Assistant/associate professor of neurology, 1981-1990. Private Practice:  Neurological Associates of Tucson, 1981-1992. Medical Director, St. Mary’s Hospital, 1993-1998; senior medical director (quality), 1998. Graduate work: M.S., Experimental Statistics, New Mexico State University, 1998-2000. Consulting in statistics, quality and patient safety in medicine, 1999-2005.  Reader for AP statistics examination, 2003-2006. Organizations past held office: Pima County Medical Society, 1981-2011; vice-president, secretary/treasurer. Arizona Medical Association 1981-2004; treasurer, vice-president. Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, Chief Observer, 1986. Volunteer work:

  • Wilderness ranger, US Forest Service, Ely, MN, Kawishiwi District, May-October 1992.
  • Volunteer work, US Forest Service, Minnesota Boundary Waters, 1993-1999.
  • Mathematics, chemistry tutor, CDO High School, 2002-2011.  Substitute teacher, CDO HS 2010-2012.
  • Mathematics tutor, Sabino High School, 2002-2011.
  • Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, 2006-2010.
  • Tucson Audubon Society Field Trip leader, 2006-2012.
  • Rowe Audubon Sanctuary, Gibbon NE, 2008, 2010-2018.
  • Past docent, Kitt Peak National Observatory, 1986-87.
  • Eugene, Oregon Parks and Outdoor Services 2014-17
  • Eugene, Obsidian Hiking Group 2014-  (100 hike leader award) Over 1000 hours
  • Eugene, SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), 2014-15
  • Eugene, Lane Community College Math tutor, 2014-20  Over 1000 hours.
  • Eugene, Science Factory (Hands on Museum for Children), 2015-2017
  • Cascade Volunteers 2019- ; Secretary 2020-22  Over 2200 hours (including Scorpions)
  • Scorpions Trail Crew 2017-; Certified Crosscut Sawyer (bucking)-B certification. Over 1400 hours
  • Winter Trails (High Cascade Volunteers-now C.V.), 2017-
  • Covid Vaccination (2021)-75 clinics, 390.5 hours

Publications:  60 articles, not including twenty years of weekly astronomy columns (750 in all) in the Arizona Daily STAR and 9 years of monthly columns in Pima County Medical Society. Articles published in the following fields:

  • Military Medicine (Naval Institute Proceedings)
  • Mental arithmetic (The Arithmetic Teacher)
  • Wilderness ethics (The Boundary Waters Journal)
  • Volunteering for the Forest Service (Medical Economics)
  • Patient safety columns (Physician Executive)
  • Neurology (clinical) (Archives of Neurology, Neurology)
  • Neurology (humanities) (Neurology)
  • Eclipse viewing and chasing
  • Variable star viewing (Intl Amateur-Professional Photoelectric Photometry)
  • Past CME Web page on why physicians make errors

Writing awards: American Academy of Neurology: Creative Expression Award for Human Values in Neurology (A Wise Owl),2003.  Prize donated to Médècins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders). Writer’s Digest:  Honorable Mention, Non-fiction, “Lunar Phases for Writers and Editors,” 2003. Hobbies: Canoe Tripping Backpacking and Hiking Amateur astronomy and eclipse chasing Mathematics and anything numerical Reading Freelance writing Running Former cyclist (65000 miles, until I had one too many accidents, bringing my fracture total to nine); past volunteer with PBAA for  the cycling events. Taking care of more cats than I ever thought we would have. OUTDOOR RESUME CANOE TRIPPING: 25 trips into Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario–150 days.  Guided four trips (1967); 69 trips into the Boundary Waters/Quetico (Minnesota/Ontario)–325 nights, 360 lakes; the upper 200 miles of the Yukon River, including Lakes Laberge, Bennett, Nares and Tagish; the Nahanni River (World Heritage Site) from Rabbitkettle Hot Springs to the Liard River. BACKPACKING/HIKING: Section hiked the southern quarter of the Appalachian Trail (527 miles). 6 multi-day Grand Canyon trips, including rim to rim. 2 times over Alaska’s Chilkoot Trail. 2 trips into ANWR (Kongakut and Aichilik River basins). Arrigetch Peaks (Alaska), Alatna River (and Takahula Lake), Gates of the Arctic (Dalton Highway to Summit Lake). Noatak River (Alaska), 16 miles backpacking, Wulik Peaks (NW Alaska), 40 miles of hiking), 80 miles of river travel. Walked the length of Isle Royale (wolf in my campsite for 10 minutes, 10 miles from nearest other person.) Multi-day trip into Olympic National Park. Fourteen twenty-plus mile days, including three in a row. Fifty times up Wasson Peak, twenty times up Mt. Wrightson and Mt. Kimball (Tucson). Eight hundred thirty hikes into Oregon by 11 Feb 23. NATIONAL PARKS: Seen 50; have hiked more than 10 miles in more than half, 50 miles in nine. VOLUNTEER WORK: Five months with the Forest Service in Ely, MN (1992). Week-long trips from 1993-1999 with the Forest Service in Ely. Volunteer at Rowe Sanctuary (Audubon) during Crane Migration, Gibbon, NE, 2008, 2010-2018. ECLIPSES: Seen 24 central solar eclipses, 18 total, 6 annular on or over all continents, both North and South Poles.  Seen 15 total lunar eclipses.  The total eclipses were seen in Baja Mexico, Bolivia, India, Siberia, Aruba, Zambia, over Antarctica, South Pacific Ocean, Libya, over the Arctic Ocean, China, Argentina,  Australia, Uganda, over the Atlantic Ocean, over the equatorial Pacific (2019, 8m 27s totality) Indonesia, and Oregon.  The annular eclipses were seen in Arizona (2), San Diego, Costa Rica, Spain and Kenya.

5 Responses to “ABOUT THE AUTHOR”

  1. shane rhoton Says:

    i really appreciate this blog. amazing. i to am a young dr. in the armed forces right now. i am stationed in AK and have been planning a trip to the kongakut in mid July (a few weeks). as i read through your blog about your two trips in ANWR/drain creek, i noticed you found a really good mineral lick for viewing the dall sheep. i will be hiking, hopefully, up to drain creek’s headwaters from the kongakut. would you be willing to share with me the rough location of the mineral lick? i would really appreciate it. i would really like to have a chance at viewing/taking pictures of dall sheep during my trip. thanks, shane

    • Mike Says:

      Hi Shane–I had a long reply that somehow got trashed. I don’t know if there is a strip at the Drain/Kongakut junction. If there is, hike up several miles and look for the “knob”, which stands out well on the south side of the river (you can see it on the topo really well, too). The lick is upstream about 3-4 miles, then up a drainage coming in from the north side. You have to go up that drainage about 2 miles, if I remember correctly. The lick is on the east side of the stream, on a vertical face; you can camp across the stream and look. No guarantees on sheep: in 2008, we camped there, and the photos speak for themselves. In 2009, it was 35 degrees, sleeting, and we couldn’t even cross Drain. I didn’t see anything over there.

      You will not see the lick easily coming from the east, so you could go up Drain looking to the north with binocs after each drainage looking for a vertical face. Then you could bushwhack in there. If I recall, there weren’t too many tussocks. This is, of course, bear country. The knob has a campsite below it (if dry) or high up if wet. I’m 2 for 2 seeing griz there, so use care. If the pilot uses the Kongakut strip upstream of Drain junction, which is a good gravel landing, then you hike upstream, away from the river and along the base of the hills, where there is a trail, to the next drainage, small, about 1-1.5 miles. You follow that drainage up to the divide then down and follow it all the way to Drain. Once you start going down, just take the downstream route (there is one big stream entering. That puts you about a mile to two east of the knob.

      I’d e-mail or call Dave Hamilton at ABEC, assuming he is still in Fairbanks: mountainman0001@mac.com, because he has been all over that country for 25 years. If you go to the headwaters of Drain, over the Aichilik divide, the upper 5 miles of the Aichilik had great viewing of Dall sheep, too. Do ask, as I went in June and things might be very different in August. I’ll be up there in August to backpack and canoe the Noatak, at the SW portion of the Gates. ANWR is beyond comprehension: it is a beautiful place, and I hope you see all the wildlife you can. Thanks for your service. I know what it is like being a doc in the military, and my latest post about Being Right, dealt with something you may appreciate. Best of luck. Use my name if you contact ABEC. And if you have other questions, let me know. If I can dig out the coordinates (got to find the maps, first), I’ll pass them on. Mike Smith

  2. Alex Says:

    Hello Michael,

    I’ve been researching places in Alaska, and found your post THE EPI-PEN CARTRIDGE. So much details! And some great photos – I really like to read very detailed travel posts like that. Usually I don’t travel a lot but I love reading posts from those who do.

    Some time ago I started thinking about improving travel and photo blogs to make them more informative. How do I read blogs? At first I open Google Maps and look for the place in the post. After that I try to figure out where those pictures were taken? So maps and some waypoints would be helpful. And finally, what if I want to do a similar journey? It would be great to see a trail or a route.

    To make life better I and my friends created http://www.track-kit.net – a place where routes, tracks with photos and waypoints can be stored, edited and viewed. Most important is tracks can be easily embedded into WordPress blogs as an interactive map with multiple map sources including topo maps, OSM etc. Your readers could also enjoy track statistics, speed and elevation, look at images and see where they have been taken. Here is a description of all major features:


    You can upload tracks from a smartphones, PC or Mac. You can even create a track right at the web site. Here is a video to explain it better:

    We tried to put all the great features in one place to make your readers more interested in the blog and attract more followers.

    So give it a try: use Track-Kit for your blogs (it is free) and let me know what features you would like to have – and we will make them for you.

    Thanks a lot for great posts!


  3. lauralynnwalsh Says:

    Dartmouth is after the women who were on the Ten College Exchange program. If you are interested in letting them know about Jan, contact me or david@daylward.org.

  4. Scooter Ramirez Says:

    Michael, I wanted to email you about something but I can’t seem to find your email address anywhere. Could you please shoot an email to me so that I may write you an email? My email address is scooterramirezpartii@gmail.com.

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