Thursday, March 31, 2011

Goose Lake/University Trails

I have to admit, I woke up grumpy and really didn't want to go trekking this morning and the new spring snow didn't really help that... but I dragged myself there with an equally grumpster of a kid and as the endorphins kicked in and the sun broke through so did my attitude! I'm so thankful that I organize this group! It adds that extra fire under my butt to get there on time, even when I don't really want to. Always by the time our truck pulls up to the trailhead... I really want to. 



Arriving at Goose Lake this morning, the roads were slick and the snow was starting to peter off. The sky was still ominous and gray. By the time we had the kids bundled up to go the sun was trying to peak through the clouds so I grabbed my sunglasses at the last minute from the truck. I'm glad I did! As we trekked and chatted along the trail the sun emerged! It was stunning, shooting rays of light through the sparkling trees. Again we lingered after chatting as some of the kiddos emerged from their motion induced naps. Driving on the way out the sun had already worked her magic on the slippery streets and puddles splashed as car roared through them.

Pre trek.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chaos Creations Giveaway!

Brenda, one of our wonderful mamas, has created a delightful little home business, Chaos Creations! She creates & sells items such as handmade jewelry and the most adorable elfin hats, made out of eco-chic, up-cycled recycled sweaters. To put icing on the cake - by supporting her business you not only support a environmentally friendly retailer, but a local one too!

She will give away the elfin hat of your choice by following the giveaway rules...

Rules for giveaway entries:
  1. Must live in Alaska, or be able to pick up the hat at an Anchorage Outdoor Family Network event, such as Skeedaddle or Taiga Trekkers.
  2. You get one entry for liking Chaos Creations on Facebook.
  3. You get one entry for describing the hat you like most from either the Chaos Creations Etsy page or the Facebook page, here in the comments section under this blog entry.
  4. You can earn a bonus entry for enumerating the ways buying local is beneficial in the comment section below as well.
  5. Entries must be in by midnight April 6th, 2011.

Spring Fever

While the snow is slowly but surely melting from the trail, the anticipation of summer has me downright giddy! All the trail we can trek in the summer are numerous... some old trails and some new. I love seeing the same trail change with the seasons as much as I like tackling a new one. Some that are on the docket and just waiting for the right conditions are:

  • Twin Peaks Trail, Eklutna
  • Thunder Bird Falls, Peters Creek
  • Turnagain Pass Trail
  • Bird to Gird
  • Winner Creek Trail, Girdwood
  • Byron Glacier Trail
  • Powerline Pass
  • Chester Creek Trail
  • Arctic Valley
  • Symphony Lake Trail
  • Of course we have to do Beach Lake Trail
  • Upper Huffman 
  • Rabbit Creek
We love new trail suggestions! Feel free to email them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trekking from the Upper Huffman Trailhead

What lovely morning for a hike. The temp was in the high 20s, allowing the snow to remain relatively hardpacked. In the afternoons it has been above freezing and the snow becomes rather soft, providing some resistance training. It was a cloudy start to the day with snow in the forecast. It was nice to get an uphill work out in. Total time was about an hour. We let the walkers amble around near the parking lot at the end. Despite the high cloud cover we had a great view on Anchorage, Cook Inlet and Mount Susitna (aka the Sleeping Lady).

We heard there's another new trekker on the way! Many of our mamas have been taking a break from hikes, as their second children are due this spring. One mama who hiked with one on her back and pulled one up the slight incline in a sled, slid back down on the sled. 

As is typical this time of year in Alaska, both spring and new snow are in our sights. We allowed ourselves to talk about hiking this summer and remember how enjoyable it was last summer to picnic either mid-hike or post. In my yard as I pulled in you can actually see bare ground under the big spruce tree and along the fence line!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Preparing for Spring

While the official start to spring is just two days away and the eaves are dripping... I don't really feel like it is here until most of the snow is gone and the ground is soggy, saturated and muddy with the run off from the melting accumulation of winter's precipitation. Two pieces of gear that make spring much more fun and enjoyable in Alaska are breakup boots (known Outside as rain boots or Wellies) and a full body rain suit. Now is a good time to start looking for them in your local kid consignment shops, craigslist or ebay, if you're like me and don't want to pay full price.

Rain Suits:

There are two favorite rain suits around here. Both are once piece suits, we like this because there's no place water can get in. They are great for layering, and if you get them a little bigger then you can fit a fleece bunting and long underwear underneath on those chilly rainy days. Rain suits meet the needs of both the crawling baby and the curious active preschooler. Wool, poly pro or any other moisture wicking, quick drying base layer should be worn against the skin to prevent hypothermia and general discomfort. Cotton is a No No!

The first is the Tuffo Muddy Buddy Suit (click on the link for the manufactures specs). They can be found locally at Junior Towne. They do run large so that kiddos have a full range of motion.

The second is the Oaki rain and boating suit (click on the link for the manufactures specs). They are not found locally but are very reasonably priced (on sale right now). You can also use the discount code "wadingaround" for an additional 10% off!

Breakup Boots:

There are many different generic and name brands for rain boots. This is one item you are likely to find at a consignment shop, though finding smaller sized boots for the new walker is tricky. I happened to stumble upon a pair of real Wellies, made in England, for $1.50 at a consignment shop. Regular retail stores around do not seem to carry anything smaller then a size appropriate for at least a 2 or 3 year old. Xtra Tuff makes kid boots so your child can sport the "Alaskan sneaker." The key to finding a good break up boot is finding a light one. Many we've come across are heavy and clunky. You also want to check to make sure there are either very few seems or reinforce ones. Wool socks should always be worn with this type of footwear. They dry quickly and wick the moisture away from the feet. Again cotton is not appropriate.

Staying dry, warm and comfortable extends your time outside and keeps the morale up for outdoor adventures weather you're on a family backpacking trip, splashing in backyard puddles, Skedaddling or trekking with the Taiga Trekkers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wildlife Encounters & Safety

Moose can be pretty agitated this time of year with food sources all but used up and mamas on guard of their new babes or ready to give birth. There have been a couple of accounts of moose attacks on people in the Anchorage area in the past couple of weeks. Alaska Department of Fish and Game website is a great place to read up on safety tips for encountering wildlife on the trail or even in your backyard. Click the above link for more info.

Campbell Creek Science Center Trails

What a gorgeous snowy St. Patty's Day mornin'. All told we received about half a foot of fresh powder over the night and into the morning. As we were winding down our hike the snow stopped and the sun was fighting its way through the clouds as we lingered chatting with each other near our cars.

If you aren't familiar with Campbell Creek Science Center... put it on your list! Run by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and isan amazing resource for families in the Anchorage area from their Science Saturdays to their Fireside Chat Lecture Series and beyond to their backpack kits for self-guided nature studies. Here's a list of just some of the opportunities they provide the community (taken from their website):

* Pre-school, elementary, middle, and high school science education and nature awareness programs.
* Team-building programs for youth and adults.
* Orienteering and other outdoor skills programs.
* Scout programs.
* Backpack kits for self-guided nature studies.
* Evening lectures.
* Summer evening science series for families.
* Early morning bird walks.
* Indoor and outdoor volunteer opportunities.
* Special events for people of all ages.
* Adult science and natural history programs.
* Biomonitoring projects including bird banding and creek studies.

It is also provides a network of non-motorized trails.We took advantage of these today!

Many of their programs require registration. Check out their calendar of events for more info.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alaska Botanical Gardens - A Year Round Family Resource

The Alaska Botanical Gardens is a great outdoor family resource. Some of the opportunities they afford local families:

~ Adult gardening classes & symposiums - take home some knowledge to share with your family & your own garden
~Plant sales
~Trails and gardens to wander through and amble along
~Family festivals - The Harvest Festival is a favorite of ours
~Guided tours (on foot in the spring & summer months, by snowshoe in Feb. & March)
~Junior Master Gardner Program
~Mushroom walks
~Weekly storytime for kids (starts in June)
~Discovery Duffles (my favorite) - their website describes them as "These bags, full of kids activities and books, can be checked out in the nursery Tues. through Sat. from 11am to 4pm and Wed. until 7 pm. They are designed for families, daycare or pre-school groups, or summer camp outings with kids ages 4-9.
Check a bag out from a staff or volunteer in the nursery. You will need to surrender a driver’s license while you have the bag. The bags are available from mid-May through mid-September."

A family membership is $50 for the year and includes:
- Free Admission to the Garden
- Early Admission to the SpringPlant Sale & Garden Fair
- Early notification & ticket offerings for special events
- Tri-annual issues of our newsletter, Gardens North
- 10% discount on purchases in the Shop-in-the-Garden & Nursery
- Discounts on purchases at many local garden & plant supply stores!

(On a related note Michael's Craft Store has some great kids gardening tools right now.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

North Fork Eagle River

What a spectacular morning trek we had today. I had to check and recheck my watch thinking I was running late the sun was so high in the sky. 10 years, a whole decade, and I can't get used to the drastic change in daylight this time of year. We are getting closer and closer to the longest day of the year. We gained 5 minutes 44 seconds of daylight over yesterday. That is roughly 42 minutes more of sunlight this week over last week.

We hiked on the north fork of the Eagle River today for about an hour. Its always fun to do a hike like today's knowing that you can only do it seasonally, as the river isn't always frozen solid. In Alaska, especially in the remote areas rivers, when frozen, literally become highways (people drive their cars on them) between the remote bush village that are not connected by roads. Today's river of course is not wide enough to take a vehicle as large as a car on and there actually is a road that runs along it, but it is novel anyhow.

There were some new parents and kids that joined today as well. Seeing parents outdoors introducing their little ones to a healthy lifestyle that not only reflects being physically active but respectful of nature and all it has to offer is inspiring.

After hiking a bunch of us met up at Jitters Cafe for lunch. It always nice to see how much all the little ones have grown when they aren't all bundled up and dwarfed by their winter gear. We have truly formed a wonderfully supportive and fun group of parents and children.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Merino Wool Giveaway from the Outdoor Baby Store

Find out how to win this gorgeous merino wool girls shirt from the Outdoor Baby Store on Anchorage Outdoor Family Network website.

Join Us for This Week's Trek 3/10/11

Thursday, March 10
North Fork Trail
Eagle River, AK - 10:15 am

Yurt Ben says the North Fork Trail in Eagle River is looking pretty prime! It is time to head out the way again.

Access: Eagle River Road, mile 7.4, North Fork access.
Travel Means: Foot.
Distance: 3/4 mile or 1 kilometer to river. (Then we can hike along the river)
Elevation Gain: None.
Difficulty: Easy.


We'll meet at 10:15 and hit the trail at 10:30 to allow those of us in Anchor Town a little time to get out there.

This is a great opportunity for families with school aged kiddos to join us as it is spring break for the Anchorage School District.

Coastal Trail from Valley of the Moon Park

Kincaid Park - Johdpur St. Entrance