Saturday, January 29, 2011

Russian Jack Park

Thank you Lia for leading this past week's trek and taking photos to document it. It was a gorgeous day for a hike!

BOB Stroller Demo

Would anyone like to test drive a brand spanking new BOB stroller for a month? Jen Aist author of Babes in the Woods has one that was sent to her by the manufacturer. She will need feedback on it for the book and the manufacturer. It is orange and pretty cool looking! Sounds like there might be a pro deal option as well if anyone is in love with it. Could be 1/2 off... Email me at and I'll forward your email to her. I love my BOB!

Our beloved BOB in action.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cold Weather Camera Suggestions?

We are on a quest to find a great, easy to hike with digital camera that likes the cold and can handle negative temps. Often when I take pictures to document our treks, I find my camera's batter power has been sapped. On two separate occasions when the battery lost power it wiped out the memory card with it. They were amazing pictures too... My husband is also venturing to summit Denali this spring and the last thing we want to have happen is for him to summit and not to have the pictures to prove such a once in a lifetime feat. We are seeking suggestions. Please leave a recommendation in the comment section if you have info that will help us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Saturday, February 12th, 2pm

All Ages Program - Eagle River Nature Center


Our friend and author Jennifer Aist will talk about the value the outdoors holds for the entire family. She is the author of Babes in Woods: Hiking, Camping and Boating with Babies & Young Children and will share her experience of making the most of outdoor activities with children in Alaska.

Free program; $5 parking for non-members.

Check out the Eagle River Nature Center website and click on the Programs tab for more great events such as presentations from Iditarod Mushers, The Junior Naturalist Survival Skills clinic, to star gazing, talks about wildlife, ski waxing clinics and narrated hikes!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Real "Skhoop" - Mini SKHoop Review

By Sara Hodge

When I moved to Alaska a couple of years ago, I saw a few women wearing the Skhoop insulated skirt during the cold winter months.  I was really curious as to why women would wear this garment.  Why would someone wear a skirt over their pants?  Did this skirt really keep the person warm or was it more of a fashion statement?  What was the point of this skirt? 

I really didn't think about this subject again, until I had a baby and joined a parent and baby hiking group where a lot of the mama's sported these little skirts.   I was given the opportunity to try out the mini-insulated Skhoop skirt on one of our hikes.  The temperatures were in the teens that day.  I still didn't really think that this mini Skhoop would help keep me warm at all, especially since I had noticed most mamas wearing the Original or Heidi Skhoop.  However, I was quickly proven wrong!  I was so warm wearing the mini!  A lot of times my upper thighs and butt would get chilly on outdoor adventures.  The mini Skhoop completely remedied this situation!  By the end of the hike, these two problem areas were nice and toasty!  I also really enjoyed the free range of motion with the mini!  Since the skirt is so short, most of the leg is not restrained be the skirt.

The only problem I had with the mini was that the area on my thighs that fell right below the mini's hemline was cold.  However, I think using the Heidi Skhoop probably would have solved this problem.

I really enjoyed this skirt on hikes, but how would it hold up doing an acitvity a little more vigorous than hiking, such as cross country skiing?  The answer is perfectly!  The mini Skhoop was really nice for this sport!  Since the mini already gives a complete range of motion, cross country skiing in the mini was no problem at all!  Even if you have a very long gait or stride, the mini comes equipped with a zipper in the back, so if you need a little more "room", just unzip the slit!.  I was wondering what the point of the zipper "slit" was until I skiied.

I would definitely recommend the mini Skhoop to all of my friends.  After I had borrowed the mini, I was wishing I owned the insulated skirt the next day as I was walking around my neighborhood in blue jeans!  The mini would have been perfect over my jeans!  Fortunately, I am now the proud owner of the mini Skhoop, so I do not have to wish anymore!  I am super happy that this is part of my Alaskan winter gear!

Stay tuned - we'll have reviews in the near future of the full and mid length SKHoops from other Taiga Trekker mamas.

Who Says Skis are Just for Chariots

Photo by Sara H.
A hybrid of sorts - Sara L. has solved a dilemma many BOB stroller owners have faced... ski envy. While Alison was out of town, she borrowed her Chariot, she and her husband looked at both her BOB stroller and the Chariot and noticed the skis on the Chariot and the wheels on the BOB were attached with the same quick release system. She tried the ski attachment on her jogging stroller and voila she now had a skiing stroller!

While the Chariot ski attachment is rather pricey they have huge resale value and are always being sought after on craigslist. Now you don't have to regret purchasing a BOB instead. I don't believe she's tried rigging it up to pull behind her like a pulk, but it has made the snowy winter trails even easier to push her little man on, in his warm toasty bundle with the weather shield down.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Tank Trail

We took the Tank Trail today, in the Far North Bicentennial Park off Campbell Airstrip Rd. It was a great wide trail and the perfect length for hiking with little ones. I'd say we did about 3 miles round trip. The fresh coat of snow made it slightly more challenging for the strollers, but still totally doable with that mode of transportation.

I counted about 30 kids, mamas & papas combined. We had 2 new mamas join with brand new 8 week old babies. How wonderful to see them getting their endorphins going and introducing their little ones to a life of outdoor adventures and healthy living so early on. Hiking with your infants is a great way to beat both the baby blues and the winter blues, which compounded and left unchecked can be a miserable combo.

A huge thank you to Lia for taking the photos of today's Trek! You are a life saver!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Out The Door In Under an Hour - Part Two of our Trekking with Two Series

By Lia Keller

I have sons 15 months apart and here is my hiking timeline from before children (B.C.), during childhood (D.C.) to the present day.

5 years B.C. - I would get a hiking itch, grab my bag, toss in a water bottle, power bar and be out of the house in about 5 minutes often with no definite destination in mind.

1 year D.C. - With one child I was doing more planning for a hike, remembering provisions for both of us, extra diapering supplies, first aid kit and bear spray.  I used the Ergo or Sherpani pack depending on the length and terrain.  I could be out the door in under 30 minutes.  I could do all my old hikes and some scrambling as well.  I just kept reminding myself I had a baby on my back!

2 years D.C. - With one little kid and an older one, hiking changed.  I had two child wearing options: big kid ergo on back and little one front sling or big kid Sherpani on the back with little one in the ergo in front.  It made for hard going on hills, but it allowed me to get out of the house and into nature.  Trekking Poles make both of these options much easier on the knees and help with balance on rough terrain.  I had to change my out the door time to 45 minutes.

Present Day - The combined weight of my kids reaches over 60 pounds and carrying them both on any strenuous hike is too much for me.  I now push or pull them.  Depending on terrain, I use the Sport Utility BOB or the bike trailer / pulk.  I always bring a carrier as inevitably someone wants to be packed if I don't bring it!  It is easy to carry one and maneuver the BOB over tree roots, small streams or up hills.

I can make my way along most trails solo with both kids- Eklutna Lake, Powerline Pass, Eagle River Nature Center, FNBP and more are doable.  It might take me a bit longer and squeezing though tight places a bit more interesting, but it is worth it to me for a little fresh air.

It is easier this winter as I have my bike trailer on skis.  My kiddos stay warmer in the pulk than those being carried.  They have blankets to keep them warm and the window closes to keep out the wind.  The skis glide to make it easier to pull them as well. 

My days of grabbing my pack and rushing out the door to do a new trail with loads of elevation gain, bush whacking and scrambling.  I am completely happy though.  It is an amazing feeling when you child wants to take a new path, wear his own back pack or ask you about the scat on a trail.  It makes all the trials worthwhile!

Some Tips

-I often plan hikes around nap time so they will snooze during a large part of the hike. 

-I have a hiking kit bag with essentials I can move to backpack, stroller or pulk without worry of forgetting an essential.

-Don't make excuses.  It is a bit harder with two kids, but I would go crazy if I didn't get out on the trails.

-Enlist help.  My mother was a sherpa this summer and packed one kid so we could do some different hikes.

-Use this time to find new trails you might have skipped over due to their easier nature.

-See what you can do.  You can  always turn back on the trail or find an alternate route. 

Give me a shout if you have any questions:

Lia Keller

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Earthquake Park and the Coastal Trail

There's nothing more frustrating the a technology failure... you know it is cold out when the battery power of your camera is sapped and takes out your memory card when it turns itself off. Of all days to loose the photos too! I'll do my best to describe the morning in words...

Though the Lia's truck read 13 degrees F,  at the parking lot, it felt a lot colder then that. Until we started moving my cheeks were numb. My little bear and many other kiddos were bundled up in their strollers and pulks with the weather shields up. Some were worn in Ergos and one little munchkin was serenely sleeping in her car seat nestled into a sled pulled by her mom.  One mama found that you can take the Chariot skis and attach them to her BOB stroller (we will make sure to get a picture of that!) Another little boy was snuggled up in a beautiful Brio (maker of Thomas the Train) pram that looked almost to have tundra tires (again a picture will be forthcoming).

Many mamas wore their insulated SKHoop skirts out of shear neccessity, but also we took a beautiful picture of the group with Anchorage still twinkling with her morning lights on with both the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains behind Cook Inlet. Mt. Susitna, Denali and Foraker were all visible and basking in the pink light of an amazing sunrise. Over the Chugach to the Southeast the sun peaked over with a warm peach tone. Here in Anchorage the sun peaks over the mountains just after 10 am this time of year.

As we hiked along the coastal trail we warmed up and the usual conversation about children and life with them occurred between the 20 parents I counted, while many of the 21 children dozed or took in the gorgeous scenery. The chunky silty frozen ice of the inlet looked like the surface of a distant planet.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trekking with Twins

By Anna Straka
Getting out in all seasons has always been an important part of our lives, so when my husband and I were expecting we knew we would have to make some adjustments to do the things we have done in the past without a second thought.  When we found out we were expecting twins I seriously considered if it would be possible at all. I knew weekends my husband and I could make it happen, but I wasn't so sure about during the week when I would be home alone all day. I knew getting out would be paramount in my happiness and success as an at home mom so I started day dreaming and "planning" how to make it work.
It has been a series of trial and error hikes, walks, bike rides and ski trips...some as short as 15mins. While it is definitely easier with both mom and dad, some of my best memories of the summer my twins were born are out and about without the help of dad. It has required a bit more "equipment" than is probably necessary with one child but we have tried to buy used where we could and that has helped a lot.
Getting out with two is all about planning and being flexible! I always try to plan for a successful outing but when teething or an inexplicably grumpy baby gets in the way, I turn around and go home. Usually when I am packing everything up and loading the babies into car seats, carriers or the stroller there is a lot of crying, but as soon as we get there and get going, all is well and the babies calm down. Realizing that gets me out the door when it seems like complete chaos. I have a rule that once moving be it hiking, biking or skiing if they aren't calm within 5 minutes I will turn around and go home. That has rarely ever happened. It is supposed to be fun and even therapeutic for you and when it isn't working there is no sense in forcing it, no one will enjoy themselves that way.
As far as actually transporting two on your little adventure goes, I started to write a brief description of the things I have tried and which worked best for me when I realized just how lengthy this could get. So to try to keep it a little shorter maybe I will try a list format.
  • Two Baby Bjorns on the front-only works with small babies
  • Moby Wrap-can be used in many ways for one or two babies, check for how to videos
  • Ergo style carrier on back & Bjorn/MobyWrap/Ergo on front (heavier baby goes on the back)
  • I have lately used a child carrier pack and put both babies front to back in it...heavy but it works if a stroller just won't do where you are going.
  • Any of these can be used for children close in age just keep the larger child on your back.
  • A good trail rated stroller for your older child and a carrier of your choice for your younger child would work great too.
I am absolutely certain that feeling capable of getting out makes me a happier mom! I would encourage all moms to give it a try, you will quickly learn what works for you and what doesn't, and Taiga Trekkers is such a supportive place to give it a first try. Good luck getting outside and hopefully I will be joining the Taiga Trekkers more frequently!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adventure Parents did a sweet write up about Taiga Trekkers using pics from our blog. Based out of Arizona, they look at what we do with a sense of awe, while we think of it as basic survival to beat the winter blues and cabin fever. Reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in such an amazing place!

Trekking with Two - Stay Tuned

I've had many questions from parents who would like to join Taiga Trekkers but are daunted by the challenge of doing it with two kids. We also have many parents expecting their second child in 2011. Having only one myself I'm going to turn to the experts. In a two part article series I am having a mother of two boys under 3, and a mother of twins write about their trials and success with trekking with two, complete with photos. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 10, 2011

We Broke 100!

Not only did the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network break 100 but we are up to 103 and counting! Congrats to Ben our 100th member to join and won the Jumbo Book of Space from Discovery Toys. It is full of great up to date information and outdoor stargazing activities for the family!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

About to Break 100!

Anchorage Outdoor Family Network is 1 member shy of hitting the 100 mark. Invite your friends to join in the fun. The hundredth member to join AOFN gets a cool outdoor prize from Discovery Toys. Dads can join in too and have their own profile...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eagle River Nature Center & the Iditarod Trail

It was a gorgeous morning for a hike! 9 parents + 10 kiddos = great company as always and some exercise too! Always nice to meet new parents and kids! Thanks to Yurt Ben for the heads up on the icy trail conditions! Everyone had their ice grippers and they were needed.We almost made it down to the river, but the trail became really slick and it seemed like a good turning point.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Due to the recent warm weather and the subsequent refreezing, the trails are extremely slick. Tomorrow's trail will require ice grippers for your shoes. Even if you are out an about town carrying your little one they are a good idea.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thank You Tubbs Snowshoes!

A gigantic thank you goes out to Tubbs Snowshoes! Taiga Trekkers and the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network is about to get a fleet of 5 new kids snowshoes to have on hand for all our winter activities! They are designed for kids ages 3 - 6. We'll have them available at Skedaddle & Taiga Trekker hikes when they arrive to check out.

Check out the Family Snowshoe event happening at the end of this month:

Saturday, February 19th 
Family Snowshoeing in Hatcher Pass - Independence Mine
Palmer, AK - 1 pm
Carrier, sled/pulk friendly. 

Click here to RSVP at the Anchorage Family Outdoor Network.