Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cheney Lake

It was a "warm" hike with temps hovering right above freezing. Our theme this week was birding. We saw, ravens, nuthatches, magpies, chicadees and we had reports from some parents toward the back of the pack that heard a woodpecker! When we arrived home we checked our Alaskan Bird Guide to find the birds we had seen.

There were about 15 parents with about 30 kids.
Cheney Lake is on the east side of town off of Baxter Road. Lia had suggested this trail to me years ago. I had driven by it in the summer with all the foliage and didn't think it would be too short a hike, but it turns our to be the perfect loop for hiking with preschoolers. It is also a great place to ice fish in town, as well as skate. The muni regularly plows and hot mops a rink and track on the ice.

The kids chose to play on the mound of snow left from plowing the parking lot over the playground at the end of the Trek. One parent commented after that he was thankful for one of the older boys helping his younger guy up the hill and modeling how to look out for others!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Animal Tracks & Prospect Heights Trail

We hit the Prospect Heights Trail, on the upper hillside, yesterday morning in search of animal tracks, our theme for the Trek. We found a lot of human, bird, moose and Canine prints left behind in the snow. The kiddos made inferences as to what kind of humans made some of the tracks due to the size of the print left - mommy (medium), daddies (large) or kid (small) tracks. My little bear donned his bear track snowshoes for a little while. Leaving behind some scaring looking prints! They are much more fun, than practical.
We had an amazing turnout! About 15 parents (moms & dads) and perhaps 30+ kiddos. We made a loop on the Prospect Heights Trail, well most of us. My oldest was having a rough morning and was what we like to call in our family... a Grumpus Maximus. We should have kept going as it would have been an equal distance as what we did back tracking. When we returned to the trailhead many of the kiddos indulged in snacks and rehydrated, then played in the woods still keeping an eye out for tracks.
Every week we have an open ended theme to focus on during our Treks. It is nice way to create a communal conversation along the trail about the natural world around us. Join us next week, as our theme will be birding - listening, spotting and mimicking bird calls. For more information and to RSVP please go to the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network's webpage.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A New Twist on Treks

 We are introducing a new twist on Taiga Treks.

Since the inception of Taiga Trekkers I've been dreaming of the day when we could add another layer to the Treks. Now that we have a pretty large pre-school contingency we will add a weekly theme to the treks. The theme will be posted ahead of time with the location. There's no work involved, but if you'd like to do a little research ahead of time with your kiddo, you are of course welcome to. The theme will be open ended so it can accommodate all ages.

It might mean that on some hikes the older kids move a little slower, but our group has always moved in clumps down the trail.

Thursday will be our first Trek to try it out! The theme - Animal Tracks!

This is the only winter animal track I could find in our photo library. It is from Kodiak earlier this winter. Bear's don't quite hibernate there the way they do in Anchorage. We should NOT expect to see some of these. We'll probably see moose, human and dog tracks on the trail.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Taku Lake - Campbell Creek Trail

10 moms, 2 dads, 1 grandma and about 18 kiddos hit the trail today. We took the Campbell Creek Trail from Taku Lake (Corner of King St. & 76th) and headed west as the snow was falling all around us. Yes glorious beautiful snow! We've had very little so far this winter, a stark contrast to the record breaking load we had last year. What snow we did have melted with the recent warm spell and rain.

Despite my oldest son throwing up his hands and exclaiming"It's a snowy snowland out there Mommy!" when he looked out the window this morning, today was one of those days, when I almost called the whole Trek off. I didn't get much sleep last night due to a teething infant. I didn't want to clean off my truck. I wasn't excited about locating all our gear, something I usually do the night before, but hadn't. I didn't know how the roads were going to be. My husband is going to be home for a long weekend tomorrow and I wanted to clean... I had a long list of "didn'ts...." BUT... we did. I know that the days I most want to stay home are the days I most need to go out, especially in the winter to ward off the onset of the Winter Blues.

When I arrived at the parking lot and saw all the cars parked with their hatches up, sleds and gear strew about and kids playing, my heart did jumping jacks! All these people wanting to hit the trail in this "snowy snowland" with each other and their kids, brought joy to every fiber of my being. Parents pulled each other's kids in sleds. Boys pretended to be dragons. Parents meeting for each other for the first time  immediately started exchanging stories of parenthood. One wise mama knew she wasn't going to get far down the trail with her two year old who was reveling in the freshly fallen chrystals. She didn't rush him and let him do his thing. It was simply beautiful and so worth the pushing through beyond my snowy morning urge to hibernate!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Favorite Baby Carrier Cover - Hands Down!

We've had the Kowalli Cover in our lending library for a while now. When it first arrived, my oldest was starting to become an independent little Trekker and I didn't get much use out of it personally. Now with the addition of our newest son, I've had the chance to really use it and totally fall in love with it. It is hands down my favorite baby carrier cover. Here's why:

  • Most of the other carriers have a small hole or slit through which baby has to put their head. Besides the fact that babies don't tend to like putting their heads through small holes, it makes it that much more difficult when wearing them on your back. Still other benefits of the wide opening is that you can easily adjust the baby and use the sleep hood (like on an Ergo). This too can not be said for some of the other covers.
  • My other pet peeve with some of these carriers is that your own jacket must remain open. With the Kowalli, My own jacket can be zipped up. (I also recently found the best baby wearing, no bulk, super warm jacket... we'll save that for another review). 
  • The fleece is super soft.
  • A pocket!
  • The design is no frills, simple & smart.
  • Not only is the Kowalli constructed in the USA, the fabric is made here too! Usually clothing and gear may be constructed here, but the material is outsourced. Not in this case. I also happen to love that the company is out of Providence, RI. I grew up in Lil Rhody and my family still resides there, most of them in Providence.
  • Alizah, the owner of the company is accessible and so generous! She sent Taiga Trekkers the cover, free of charge to keep in our lending library. Just drop me an email to let me know if you want me to bring it along for you to use! It is also available for use during other Anchorage Outdoor Family Network events too. Again just shoot me an email.

South Bivouac Trail

Today's Trek took us on the South Bivouac Trail, part of the Bicentennial Park. Take Tudor to Campbell Airstrip Rd. which turns into Basher Dr. The trailhead is well marked by the above sign on your right. There's lots of parking. This area of trails is one I personally avoid during the summer, as it is known bear territory. The trail conditions were better than expected. This is a undulating terrain with some rather steep sections, or at least they seem that way when its icy or your pulling a sled full of kids! Ice grippers were very helpful. We could certainly use some more snow to spruce things up a bit though!

6 moms, 1 dad and 11 kiddos rounded out our group today. There are lots of new babies in the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network these days with a whole bunch more on the way! This new AOFN family took their little 6 week old out for their first Trek. We look forward to seeing them more in the future!

There are a lot of trails options in this area. We stuck on the South Bivouac trail, but you can hit Rover's Run and Spencer Loop from here, link up with the Hilltop trail system and many others as well.

My oldest took advantage of the comfort of the sled ride to relax a little. We joked that he looked like a mountain rescue volunteer "victim."

Sleds were the predominant vehicle of choice today, though one strong mama pushed her littlest one in a chariot while pulling her oldest in a sled. She must have gotten a good work out!

My oldest has turned into a gear junkie. He's sporting the hydration pack he requested from Santa. He's still a little upset we didn't get him the avalanche beacon he also had hoped for.

We were out for over an hour. Having the start time delayed by the half hour during the winter, makes a huge difference. The sun was just making its way over the ridge line as we were returning to the parking lot.

We hike every Thursday, in most conditions. Look for the location of the next Trek at the Anchorage Outdoor Family Network.