SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 15

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Green Lake Road trailhead.

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Clare Kelly at 747-6859 or email her at ckelly@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for February 2018

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SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 1

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Forest and Muskeg Trail trailhead/

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Clare Kelly at 747-6859 or email her at ckelly@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for February 2018

City of Sitka to host public meetings to discuss improvements on Lincoln Street

The City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department will host two public meetings — at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at Harrigan Centennial Hall — to discuss the Lincoln Street Improvements project.

The project includes the replacement of lining of deteriorated storm drainpipes, grinding and overlay of existing pavement, upgrading of ADA (American Disability Act) ramps, replacement of limited sidewalk and installation of red concrete crosswalks. The public is encouraged to attend to see the proposed improvements and provide public input.

For more information, contact Public Works at 747-1806.

• Lincoln Street Improvements meeting handout

About 400 walkers take part in second annual Women’s March on Sitka

Even though they didn’t start advertising the second annual Women’s March on Sitka until the middle of the week, there still were about 400 walkers who showed up on Saturday, Jan. 20, to protest Donald Trump’s America. The crowd was smaller than in the inaugural Women’s March on Sitka last year, but that might be due to limited marketing.

The march was held in conjunction with hundreds of similar marches across the United States, as well as in some international communities. It took place on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, and most of the marchers protested how Trump’s administration has performed in its first year in office. In addition to protecting women’s rights and limiting sexual harassment, marchers carried signs supported funding Planned Parenthood, protecting immigrants, supporting health care, encouraged protecting the environment, saving the Tongass National Forest, keeping Alaska’s salmon runs sustainable, and even calling for Trump’s impeachment.

The marchers gathered at the Crescent Harbor covered shelter, then marched up Lincoln Street to loop around St. Michael the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral, then marched back down Lincoln Street to St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church. The crowd was mixed about two-thirds female and one-third male, with several people marching with their dogs. There also were many families marching, including a few three-generation clans.

One difference this year was marchers had to stay on the sidewalk instead of using the street (as they did last year), and that made it a bit harder to count the crowd. The weather was cloudy and in the low-40s (warmer than last year), with a few sprinkles at the end of the march.

A slideshow of scenes from the march is posted below.

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Federal government shutdown impacts Sitka National Historical Park

With the federal government shutdown starting late Friday night (Jan. 19) in Alaska, there will be some changes at Sitka National Historical Park until the government reopens, whenever that happens.

For now, the trails remain open. But the visitor’s center, public bathrooms, trash collection and other amenities are all closed (and this includes at the Russian Bishop’s House). There will be a law enforcement officer patrolling the trails and making sure there is no vandalism to the property, and a maintenance person will be on call to prevent damage to the climate-controlled historic exhibits. More federal shutdown info is available from the park’s website.

Second annual Women’s March On Sitka set for Saturday, Jan. 20

Last year, nearly 1,000 people gathered for the inaugural Women’s March on Sitka, an event held in conjunction with the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. There were so many people marching in Sitka, they wrapped completely around St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral with most of a full traffic lane full.

This year, the second Women’s March on Sitka takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20. Marchers of all ages and genders will meet at Crescent Harbor Shelter for a march up Lincoln Street, around St. Michael’s and back down Lincoln Street to the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church. This is the same course as last year’s march.

The marchers came out last year for a variety of reasons. Some were protesting the presidency of Donald Trump, especially his disrespect for women and minorities. Others were marching in support of health care and others marched for equality. The crowd was mixed about two-thirds female and one-third male, with several people marching with their dogs. There also were many families marching, including a few three-generation clans. They expect more of the same this year.

“We will join with like-minded women, men, children and pets the world over to let Washington, D.C., know we are still here, and we are not happy!” event co-organizer Kathy Ingallinera said.

After the march there will be an optional interdenominational prayer service and meditation session, plus hot drinks and cookies. Marchers should bring their own signs and wear their pink hats. For more details, check out the event page on Facebook.

Sitka Community Hospital, SEARHC to host Sitka Winter Clean Commute Challenge in February

Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), in collaboration with the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition, Walk Sitka, and Sitka Health Summit, will host the Sitka Winter Clean Commute Challenge during the month of February.

This event is a walking and/or bicycling commuting challenge where Sitkans can record and report their mileages while reducing carbon emissions, improving their health, and possibly winning prizes. This event starts on Feb. 1 and ends on Feb. 28. There will be a kick-off meeting from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Sitka Public Library.

“Leave gas-powered vehicles behind with Sitka’s winter bike and walk challenge in February to help the planet, your health, and your wallet,” SEARHC Health Educator Holly Marban said. “Help us achieve our goal of keeping 500 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in February. Just send us the number of miles you biked or walked instead of using a gas-powered car, and we’ll calculate how many pounds of carbon dioxide you helped to keep out of the atmosphere.”

“One of the many great things about Sitka is that compact and with the right gear and safety practices people can walk or bike year around,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion. “I’m excited to be part of this effort that really supports the Sitka Health Summit’s new CO2 reducers action group that formed this fall to reduce the main greenhouse gas that’s driving climate change.”

To participate, take at least one trip on foot or by bike in February, then log the miles you walked or biked in place of vehicle use. Every Friday in February, email the miles you logged that week to sitkacleancommute@gmail.com, and you will be entered to win awesome prizes, such as reflective gear, waterproof bags, and ice cleats. The first 20 people to send in miles walked or biked will receive a free reflective wrist band.

Remember to be safe and visible on your commute. Always wear reflective gear in low lighting, a helmet when biking, and ice cleats when walking in slippery conditions. Participants will be able to record their bike rides for International Winter Bike To Work Day on Friday, Feb. 9 (there also is a bike to school division), or the kids can record their walks on Winter Walk Day on Wednesday, Feb. 7  (note, this is an event from Canada, but we get similar weather so why not).

Questions can be directed to sitkacleancommute@gmail.com, hmarban@searhc.org, or dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

• Winter Clean Commute Challenge carbon equivalents for distances walked or biked