Monday, November 29, 2010

Icebug Women's Creek BUGrip Carbon Boot – Perhaps the best winter gear purchase I’ve ever made!

I LOVE these Icebug walking boots!  I was introduced to Icebugs last winter when I borrowed my husband’s Icebug running shoes on a few icy days for walking with my infant.  I wish I had bought these boots back then!
With 16 metal cleats and 16 rubber cleats that stick out past the sole, these boots grip well on ice, hard-packed snow, and dry pavement (they aren’t recommended for indoor use, and I haven’t ventured in to any stores yet).  I’ve used them for walking around the neighborhood, hiking on hard-packed trails, and I’ve easily slipped them on (no hands!) to get the mail. 
The padded high-top uppers keep my ankles warm, and the boots are overall very comfortable.  I’ve worn them outside for walks at around 0oF, and they keep my feet nice and toasty.  I have wide feet, and at first they felt a little narrow, but I’m used to them now.  I could have purchased the men’s version of the boot if they were really narrow, since men’s shoes are wider.  I range between a size 9 and 9.5, and I ordered the 9.5, which allows room for my thick wool socks.
As a pregnant mom of a one-year-old, I feel safe wearing these boots on icy or packed-down, snowy roads and trails.  Before I bought these boots, I worried about falling while pushing the stroller and pulling it down with me.  Now I’m confident I won’t slip or fall and jeopardize my safety or the safety of my two little ones.
Everyone who lives in snowy and icy conditions and who likes to get outdoors should have a pair of Icebugs!
A big thanks to Susie for providing this review! If any of you other parents have a product you either love or wish you hadn't spent the money on and want to share please email me your review and a picture of the product in action. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A New Family Tradition

Our family hit the trails today, but our goal was different than usual... we were hunting for the perfect Christmas Tree. Yes you can cut your own Charlie Brown Christmas tree for free in the Chugach National Forest. Here are there rules for harvesting from their website:
  • All areas of the Chugach National Forest on the Kenai Peninsula are open, with the exceptions of Portage Valley and Turnagain Pass. The Portage closure extends from the Seward Highway to Portage Lake. The Turnagain Pass closure extends from just north of the Turnagain Pass Rest Area (at MP 57 from Anchorage; MP 70 from Seward) to the Bertha Creek Campground (MP 61.5 from Anchorage; MP 65.5 from Seward).
  • Each household or organization is allowed one tree from the Forest. No permits are required to cut trees for personal use. However, permits are required to cut trees for commercial purposes. The free trees cannot be sold, bartered or used in any commercial-type exchange for goods.
  • Be certain you are on land managed by the Forest Service.
  • Cut trees at least 150 yards (450 feet) away from main roads, picnic and campground units, administrative facilities, trails, and bodies of water.
  • Do not fell trees into streams or other bodies of water. Cut trees as close to the ground as possible.
  • Do not lop off the tops of trees higher than 20 feet in order to get the good parts.
  • Follow off-road zoning regulations. Select your tree thoughtfully, to avoid unsightly bare spots.
We went to the Johnson Pass area and on the way down and back saw dozens of Dahl sheep. We didn't have snow shoes with us, but would suggest it. Don't forget the camera!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Parental Gear

We are always talking about gear for our children, but often neglect to talk about gear for us. Our own gear is as, if not more important to everyone enjoying a family outing. What is your favorite piece of outdoor winter gear and why? Share your most important item to enjoying the great outdoors with your family in the cold by commenting below.

I'll be first and share mine...

I have Raynaud's which is described well on as "a rare disorder of the blood vessels, usually in the fingers and toes. People with this disorder have attacks that cause the blood vessels to narrow. When this happens, blood can't get to the surface of the skin and the affected areas turn white and blue. When the blood flow returns, the skin turns red and throbs or tingles. Cold weather and stress can trigger attacks. Often the cause of Raynaud's is not known. People in colder climates are more likely to develop Raynaud's than people in warmer areas." While I love my SKHoop, this means keeping my hands and feet warm is most crucial to staying outside for extended lengths of time. Thus I have 2 favorite outdoor gear products.

Steger Mukluks - These are boots inspired by Native North American technology and are advertised as "The warmest boots in the world." Which I can totally attest to. Living in Fairbanks, AK for 6 years, I saw tempertures drop to -60 degrees, yes below Zero! Nothing would keep my feet warm besides my Steger Mukluks. They come in many variations of the same general style. I happen to have the moose hide and canvas ones, with the boiled wool liner. Their only draw back is that they are only meant for temperatures below freezing as they are not waterproof.

The second most important item of gear that makes my life outside enjoyable and safe is mittens. Gloves are not something I even own. With this condition they are actually dangerous. Gloves separate your fingers from one another, while mittens allow your fingers to keep each other warm - power in numbers. There are numerous amounts of pair of mittens in our coat closet, but I usually use only 2. My light weight driving mittens, as I call them, and my huge expedition, Denali type mits (a truly thoughtful Christmas present from my husband!). The light ones allow me to do smaller fine motor skills operations while still being protected. I often put hand warmers in these so I am still allowed the dexterity the others don't offer. On long expeditions or activities such as snow machining I wear the expedition over mits over my smaller one, which act as a liner. Wearing the layers allows me to take off the top layer and be able to adjust gear with out having to have my hands completley exposed. Complete exposure at some temps. ends my, and consequently my family's, fun outdoors for the moment. Both of my pairs of mitts happen to be made by OR (Outdoor Research).

Monday, November 22, 2010


As we take a break this Thursday from trekking I am reminded of how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such amazing friends. In organizing this group I feel I get far more out of it, as I have been able to meet some of the most open-minded, resourceful, helpful, responsible, fun and energetic parents around. Thankful doesn't begin to describe the feeling I have when discusing the trials and triumphs of parenting on a beautiful Alaskan trail and the friendships our children are forging at such an early age. The mix of endorphins and knowing your not alone is powerful. The old Alaskan standard holds true - your friends are your family here.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Check out the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network for post-Turkey Day ice skating at Westchester Lagoon on Friday afternoon!

If you find yourself needing a place to celebrate the holiday our house is always open to guests. Please shoot me an email and I'll give you directions.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To Giveaway Winner

Catherine - Thanks for being one of the generous parents who donated a toy for Toys for Tots! You have won the Bath Shapes from your local Independent Educational Consultant for Discovery Toys!

I'll have them with me to give to you at the December 2nd trek. Thanks again to all the generous parents who donated, to Sara & Michael Hodge for collecting them and Leland for initiating and organizing the toy drive!

Winter Family Fun - Alaska Style

Check out the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network for all kinds of freshair recreation ideas and meet other parents and kids with a healthy passion for nature. We live in a winter wonderland of great wilderness activities. Some events already on the calendar are: skating at Westchester Lagoon, family hikes, xcountry skiing, and so much more. We will also be partnering with REI to host clinics on topics such as for dressing for the cold and outdoor baby/toddler gear. If you have an idea for an activity you would like to see happen or organize, post it and we'll make it a reality.

This is a phenomenal group of parents and children and a great network for families whether you have lived here all your life or just moved to the state.

Join in the fun!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Campbell Creek Tract

A fantastic turnout for a chilly morning. 15 degrees F. Many brought their pulks and the rest were worn today. Thanks to all who brought toys for Toys for Tots. Amanda won the nursing top and Sara H. won the mitts. I'll do the Discovery Toy give-away next week instead as it was just too cold to mess around with drawings. 11 parents, 12 kiddos and a guest.

Erin from joined us. If you aren't familiar with her she is a fantastic resource for parents in the area as she is tied into just about everything kid friendly happening in the area. My camera froze up on the hike so the pictures are lifted off the facebook pages of different members. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Upcoming Outdoor Prize - Molehill Mtn. Glacier Mittens

One of Thursday's Out"door" Prizes - bring a toy for Toys for Tots and be entered to win! Thank you to Molehill Mtn. Equipment, makers of fantastic technical outdoor clothing for infants, toddlers and children!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Prospect Heights - Monthly Family Weekend Hike

While it was actually raining sporadically in town it was beautiful up on the Hillside. It was great to meet new parents and kids. I neglected to get a picture of Thomas & Samantha's awesome homemade sled... If anyone got one please email it to me. Thanks. 15 parents and 9 kiddos took to the trails this gorgeous and unseasonably warm Novemeber day. Thanks to all those who brought toys for Toys for Tots and Mountain Blue Eyes for the out"door" prizes!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winter Wonderland

What a beautiful morning on the trails at the Far North Bicentennial Park, here in Anchorage. 18 moms, 2 dads, 1 aunt, 19 kids and 3 on the way! Most wore their kiddos, while there were a few in strollers, strollers on skis, sleds and pulks. These multi use trails were packed and groomed. We covered about 3 miles and got back to the cars just as a mutiny was about to be organized by the munchkins. A snack and warming of the hands and feet and life was back to good!

Mountain Blue Eyes Nursing Fleece Winner

Congratualtions Jami L.! You have won the Mountain Blue Eyes nursing fleece! If you would be gracious enough to write a review of it once you've had a chance to try it out a few times, the manufacturer is anxious to hear our input.

Thanks again to Mountain Blue Eyes! Their products can be found at the Nursing Botique at the Maternity Center at Providence Hospital. We have threee other product from them to give away at upcoming hikes.

Remember bring a toy for Toys for Tots to the hike this Saturday, or next Thursday and be entered to win some fabulous out"door" prizes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lots of FUN at Skedaddle Today!

Our sister group Skedaddle held its weekly meetup at Sitka St. Park. There is a fantastic sledding hill there and the playground played second fiddle to the physics of snow and sleds!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alaskan Family Adventure Essay Contest and Giveaway

Win this beautiful long, brown, large sized insulated skirt by SKHoop…

Taiga Trekkers is about connecting families and sharing the love of our beautiful surroundings here in Alaska. Even those who have lived here their entire lives are always looking for new adventures. Write a descriptive essay about your favorite family outdoor Alaskan adventure. How did you get there? What were the children’s reactions? Were there challenges? What were the highlights? Is it an activity for children of specific ages? What gear was required? The winning essay will be featured on this blog. Please also attach 1 or 2 pictures to illustrate your essay.

Click this link to email your entry. Entries are due by midnight (Alaska Time) December 1, 2010. The Winner will be announced Thursday, December 9th. (Winner will also be asked to write a short review of the SKHoop for the blog and the manufacturer.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sleds and Pulks

Now that we have a snow base on many of the trails most of our hikes will be sled and pulk friendly. Sleds and pulks are great for older babes and toddlers, not for the smaller infants who lack muscle control. Bumpy trails can cause shaken baby syndrom for the tiny infants. Carriers are always suggested for them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Plan B a Great Sucess!

Due to the cold rain turned snow this morning, we opted for Plan B and heading for the indoor track. Parents got exercise, as did the toddlers and all the munchkins and mamas got to socialize.

Bone Chilling Rain = Plan B

Plan B - It is now raining pretty good at my house. Let's scrap the hike and head to the Subway Sports Center on the corner of O'malley & Old Seward and walk the indoor track. The cost is $5, or cheaper if you have a punch pass. It is rather chilly in there, as the track is above the ice rinks.

I will be a few minutes late as I will head to the trailhead to make sure everyone gest the message.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Sneak Peek at Some Upcoming Out"door" Prizes

... to be given away at upcoming hikes. Keep an eye out for post about details on how to win these fabulous prizes in the coming weeks! I am also looking for sponsors to provide us with some great papa bear giveaway items. Don't want to leave those great dads out of the fun!


A medium size, pink nursing tee from Mountain Blue Eyes and a large sized, brown, long SKHoop insulated skirt from

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Benefits of Hiking with Your Little Ones?

I am working on writing an article to submit to Mothering Magazine about the importance of getting outside and hiking with your child. How has hiking with your munchkin helped you? How has it benefitted your child? What are the challenges of doing it? Does having a group to get out with help? Is it routine for your family? Please email me with your thoughts. I would like to encourage others to get there own hiking and outdoor groups going and your insight is invaluable!