Thursday, September 27, 2012

Campbell Creek Science Center (Moose Trail)

 Eight parents set out with their children on an epic hike filled with mountain climbing, cliff jumping and chickadee petting.  Our intended trail was closed due to a downed power line, so we walked along the Moose Trail (thankfully moose free today). 

 We met at the first parking lot off of Elmore and  hiked just over a mile to the Science Center and then the mile back.  Some children walked the entire way, some children hitched a ride on their mothers' backs and other kiddos alternated between running and sitting in the stroller. 
 The group of boys had great fun climbing these mountains and jumping down into the soft moss.  It was heartwarming to see them help each other up with prompting.
 The adults got to have some chatting time as the kids did their cliff jumping.
 The air was a bit cool, but felt nice as the kids kept up a fast clip.  The snow is creeping down the mountains! 
 One of the children's father was doing research on Chickadees and the kids all got to pet the tiny bird!  This is just another reason why Alaska is such an amazing place to live.  You are walking on a trail and a researcher pulls a bird out of his coat and lets you pet it!
Everyone was a bit tired on the way back, but so happy.  I hope you join us for yet another adventure next week! 

-Lia Keller

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gskirts Review

It's rainy season! How are you keeping dry? My new favorite way is with a rain skirt! George the maker of Gskirts was kind enough to send both an adult and kids version my way. Here are my thoughts on the adult version (kid's review coming soon):

  • The adjustable wrap around style of this skirt allows you to wear it over anything from simple base layers to to suit pants
  • Allows for free range of motion
  • Sweet button detail
  • The material is so light weight, yet very durable
  • Comes in a range of great colors
  • Much better price than comparable rain skirts like Skhoop 
  • Quick and easy to put on
  • Keeps you dry!
  • Perfect for going to the grocery store, soccer games, hiking, walking the dog, playing in the rain...
  • Perfectly simple
  • Clean lines
  • Handmade in Vancouver, BC! 

This is the perfect outer layer for any outdoor activity, especially in Kodiak, Alaska! My favorite way to wear this skirt is with Smartwool leggings and my trusty Xtra Tuf boots (an Alaskan staple). I would have killed to have this when on recess or bus duty as an elementary school teacher! It is a great way to keep your professional clothes dry too.

Photo credits go to my 3 year old Little Bear.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Abbott Loop in the Rain!

 (Write up by Lia)

 I was happy to see six other families suit up their kids, pull on rain coats and set out in the rain from Abbott Loop.  We all agreed that we had to get out of the house.  It seems that our personalities are not suited to being cooped up inside!  The rain was really heavy, but it felt pretty warm.
 Most of the children were walkers and the pace was quite slow.  They ran through the puddles and not one fell down!
 The trail does have a few trees blocking the path.  Our group did the limbo to get under this one, but the strollers were blocked by another one down the path a bit.  There are huge trees over in the woods with the roots exposed. 
 The children all loved the huge lake that forms with rain and at break up.  Some fished and others watched the duck family paddling around.  Not one child said they were wet and hated the rain.  I love that.
The pace was slow today, but other days a contingent of packed kiddos forge ahead.  All paces are welcome and encouraged on the treks! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Babes in the Snow Class

Taught by AOFN's own Jen Aist - Author of Babes in the Woods, this class is a must for the outdoor parent no matter what age your kids are, especially if you have an infant or are new to Alaska!

Here's the info from the Providence Website - Click on the highlighted "preregister" link to be directed to the Providence Page:

Location: Entrance 5: Maternity Center Education Room
Babes in the Snow
Saturday, October 06, 2012 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

This one day class is designed to empower parents of infants and toddlers with the tools and confidence they need to embrace winter with their little ones.

Pre-registration is required.
Fee: $30 per person/couple

Type: Class
Preregistration: Required
Facility: Providence Alaska Medical Center
Cost: $30 per person/couple
Employee & Military Discounts and Scholarships are available for all parenting and childbirth classes! Please call the Providence Maternity Center at 212-8474 for Scholarship information.

Repost Part 2

Prepping for Winter - Part 2 - Repost

Termination dust is in the mountains, signifying that it's time to go down to the basement and break out the winter clothes. We spend a lot of time talking about what our little ones should wear outside for a successful family outing, but we often neglect to talk about what we, the parents, should wear. An expedition lasts only as long as EVERYONE is happy and comfortable. I've seen parents, and some long-time Alaskans, skating at Westchester Lagoon, sledding at a local hill or hiking on trails in the winter, their kids are perfectly bundled up in the appropriate layers, but the adult is wearing jeans and their lips are blue.

As mentioned in the first part of Prepping for Winter, all outdoor experts whether talking about infants or adults, say "Cotton Kills." Cotton unlike polyester & wool fabrics does not wick moisture away from the body, nor does it dry fast. Having a cotton layer, especially up against your skin is an invitation to hypothermia and frostbite when you are active. Sweat saturates the layer and clings to your skin, subsequently freezing from the arctic air.

Loose layers are key to feeling comfortable and allow you to regulate you body's temperature. Tight fitting clothing can decrease circulation, inviting frostbite to spread more quickly.

Footing - trails, sidewalks and even parking lots are a dangerous place, especially in the freezing/thawing months of early winter (fall for people in the Lower 48) and spring. When ever you are carrying or wearing a child it is important to consider wearing ice grippers. You go down, so does your kiddo. Some sneakers like Ice Bugs come with studs built into the treads of the shoe, others fit over the sole of your shoe & there are services provided by local stores, such as Skinny Raven, to put studs in an old pair of running shoes or boots.

Gloves & Mitts - Like baselayers, you don't want cotton or any material that is slow to dry. Mittens are the most effective tool to keep you hands warm and provide the best space for hand warmers. Gloves separate the fingers which looses heat. Mits are the ultimate example of power in numbers, however you do loose some dexterity.

Extra hand and foot warmers are always a great thing to have stashed in the car along with extra layers of clothing. Cosco sells them by the case. I'm on a mission to try to find an effective reusable brand.

While it is true you pay for what you get, there are reasonably priced layer options at any department store and at lots of second hand stores. Good gear is an investment that should last you years.

Repost by Popular Demand

Prepping for the Winter Ahead Part I - Repost

Anxious about taking your new little one out in the cold this year, or is this your family's first winter in Alaska? Dressing your little one for success in the outdoors is important. Fortunately there are some amazing resources available here in Anchorage. Local author of Babes in the Woods, Jen Aist will be teaching her annual Babes in the Snow class at Providence Hospital  soon. Scholarships are available. Register at The Childrens Hospital or call 212-8474. Her book can also be found at any of the local bookstores.

Basically you want to think about dressing your baby as you would for the current weather conditions. Keep in mind that your child is not exercising while being worn or pushed in a stroller, so they may need even more clothing than you. If you are wearing your child in a carrier such as an ERGO or a Beco carrier, you will transfer body heat back and forth to one another, however this does not occur in most frame packs and strollers. ****Be very aware that the feet of worn children get cold very fast as they don't have complete circulation going while dangling. Be sure to make sure they are well covered and that you give them breaks by getting them out of the carrier to stretch and regain full blood flow.****

Base layers are key. You want your child's core to maintain it's normal temperature. Moisture wicking base layers such as wool and polypro are important as they keep your child dry, even if they sweat or have snow get in between their layers. Cotton as the outdoor experts say, kills. You don't want moisture to get trapped and freeze on their skin. Your outer layers will be typical fleece, buntings or snowsuits. Hats, wool socks (or other wicking material) & mittens are also important to always have with you, just in case. I often put my adult size socks on my child's feet over his base layer so that when he is in a carrier his skin is not exposed when his pants inevitably ride up. Wool socks make great mitts too.

While most of the gear you need can be purchased at REI, many parents in the group have found items for cheaper at the local consignment shops, craigslist, ebay, and the REI outlet online. Why pay full price if you don't need to.

I also always have extra gear on hand. If you have any questions or would like  try or see some of the gear in person feel free to email me and I can make sure to bring it to the next Trek.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Winner Creek Trail

 I always dread the long drive to Girdwood from Anchorage, but it was beautiful today.  The sun was shining and the leaves and grasses are a beautiful deep yellow color.  The tide was coming in and some families saw belugas.  A few lucky ones also caught a glimpse of some sheep on the cliffs.  Needless to say, the drive flew by and was amazing.
 I love this hike, but my only complaint is how long it takes to get to the actual trailhead from the parking.  If you have another driver, I suggest dropping the child off near the tram and then parking (leave the child with an adult of course).

 The trail has small streams, benches, huge trees, mosses and a fabulous river within about 15 minutes.  If you have a strong hiker, you can make it to the hand tram (about 2 miles from the trailhead).  Our group didn't make it quite that far... (by a long shot!)
 They are building a multi-use trail that parallels the Winner Creek Trail.  The kiddos stopped to watch the big equipment dig and scoop. 
 A few children were content to ride in backpacks, but the older children felt the need for speed.  They ran along the boardwalks, down the trails and into the ferns. 
 The weather cooperated and it didn't rain at all.  You can't tell from the pictures that it was sunny due to the trees.  They are big, green and magical.  You can find trees with holes, big burls and those cracked and toppled over into the ground.

 The biggest draw for our crowd was the first creek on the trail.  They came back to it and had such fun.  Lots of rocks were relocated into the creek and many trips across this log were taken.  Only one child fell into the creek (another stepped into it and one small kiddo crawled into it..)

 It seemed like everyone had a good time, even though there was a bit of whining (only from my own children. 

We all said goodbye to the Tram (and tourists) on our way back to the cars.  Please join us next week for another great hike! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Symphony/Eagle Lake Trail

With wind storms of 90mph+ over the last day and many families with progressive states of power outage, it was definitely an interesting morning for a hike. The 70% chance of rain was thankfully incorrect, and 5 families (including 3 new, Welcome!) set out to hike.

Unfortunately for me, my little guy decided to turn back after .2 miles. We rolled with the punches there, but the rest of the group (thankfully!) continued on.

If you have not done this hike prior, it is AMAZING. While it is ~6 miles to both Symphony and Eagle Lakes, it is a great overnight hike with  kids. Other than a boulder field crossing, most of the hike is very doable. There are plenty of camping spots (rustic, tent) near the lakes. On a clear summer evening, it is pure joy.
Hike transitions from a 'boardwalk' to a trail that climbs the hillside.
If you get far enough in (3 miles or so), you get to cross a stream an over toward the bolder field. After crossing that through the valley, you are rewarded with some gorgeous views and lakes! 

Crossing a footbridge to get to the boulder field (2008)

By Symphony Lake (2008)

 We all noticed a light to moderate dusting of "termination" dust on the mountains. We could not help but notice the slow creeping in of fall colors. I do believe Fall is upon us!

If you have a clear day, please check this hike out! Even if you do not make it the full way, it is a truly beautiful journey.

Directions: From Glen Highway, take the Eagle River Loop Exit. Head right, then take a right at the intersection onto Hiland Rd. Follow the road for several miles (~7 miles) until it winds into Hiland Valley. Look for the South Creek Rd on your right (after the gorge-- there will be signs to the Chugach Park trailhead). Turn right onto South Creek Rd, then take another right (2nd right) onto West River Drive. The trail head will be on your left.

McHugh Creek-- Turnagain Arm Trail

With some of the strange weather patterns we have had of late, it was a certainty that it was going to be windy at McHugh Creek. It did not let us down.

The rain stayed away, but dark clouds loomed and the wind was so strong that the trees were almost sideways. Regardless, three families trekked on the trail toward Potter Marsh.

The hikers were quite happy with this rock wall by the parking lot pr and post-hike.

The trail by the river contained very high brush, even more than usual. After traipsing through, the boys (all boys and one girl) found an upturned tree to sit near for a snack.

As the wind picked up more and the clouds got darker, we all decided to head back to the cars.

We took the quicker route toward the upper parking lot and walked down the road.

Some little ones quickly jumped in cars while others frolicked in the wind and hill climbing.

Join us next week. With Fall and winter coming, the hikes will be a different kind of adventure.