Sitka to host third annual Recovery Walk on Saturday, Sept. 25

September is National Recovery Month. This is the month in which we remember, support and walk for ourselves, our friends, our family and our community members on a journey of recovery from the impact of substance misuse, mental health related struggles and other forms of trauma.

Each recovery journey may look and be different, but each recovery journey begins with that first step. We will take that first step at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall. We invite our community join us for the third annual Recovery Walk in Sitka.

This socially distanced and masked gathering is open to everyone wishing to celebrate all who’ve chosen a path of recovery, to acknowledge all who inspire us, and remember those who led the way. Information and “swag” tables will be set up in front of Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Bring a sign, bring a friend, make a button in honor of a loved one, dress in purple (the official color of recovery month-limited amounts of recovery t-shirts are available for participants for free, as well as other swag from sponsoring agencies), become informed and support all those on their journey of recovery. This event is sponsored by Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), Sitka Counseling, Sitka Health Summit, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).

Sitka National Historical Park to host ‘Birding for Beginners’ as part of Saturday’s celebration of National Public Lands Day

 Join us from 9 a.m. until noon this Saturday, Sept 25, at the Sitka National Historical Park for “Birding for Beginners” activities in celebration of National Public Lands Day.

Family friendly activities will help explore the special connections between people and birds and learn basic bird identification techniques. Both ranger-led and self-guided activities will be available for people of all ages and skill levels to enjoy.

  • Outdoor stations will be set up at Totem Park for people to drop in and participate in birding activities at their own pace. Bird BINGO cards, word searches and coloring pages are also available.
  • At 9:30 a.m. join a park ranger for a short walk while identifying birds on the shore and in the forest. This activity is timed with low tide for maximum viewing opportunities.
  • At 10 a.m., and again at 11 a.m., join the rangers for a fun Food Web activity that highlights our relationship with our feathered friends. This is an active hands-on activity, great for kids.

Bring binoculars (or borrow ours), your favorite field guide and a song in your heart. Participants will walk away with budding new skills and their own bird checklist to begin their lifelong birding adventure.

Girls On The Run program registration open for 13th season

The Pathways Coalition is very excited to begin its 13th season of Girls on the Run in October.

This after-school program for girls in third through fifth grades inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates physical activity. To ensure the safety of girls and coaches, our curriculum has been modified to include physical distancing precautions and the ability to seamlessly transition between in-person and virtual programming as needed.

If you know a girl who might be interested in joining a team and exploring valuable lessons such as standing up for themselves and others and practicing empathy, inclusion, and acceptance, registration forms can be found at tinyurl.com/GOTR21 or the Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School front office. Scholarships are available. Registration is due Sept. 26.

If you want to get involved in the community and help build self-esteem and healthy social and emotional skills in third- through fifth-grade girls, then you should consider applying to coach. Coaches will have the opportunity to attend practices one or two days a week from October to December, as well as participate in a 5K community fun run on Dec. 11. No running experience necessary. New coaches can apply at tinyurl.com/newcoach2021, and returning coaches can apply at tinyurl.com/GOTRcoach2021 by September 19th.

Our recruitment fliers are attached. Please share this information with anyone who may be interested in coaching or registering their girl, and feel free to reach out to Emma Thompson at GOTR@safv.org or 747-3489 with any questions. Pathways will offer Boys Run I toowú klatseen this spring.

Bear activity prompts closures of some Sitka National Historical Park trails

Bears are frequenting Sitka National Historical Park and Indian River. Be advised that because of the increased bear activity, the Park is temporarily closing the entire trail system at night to protect both people and bears.

All park trails will be closed at night, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., until further notice in the vicinity of Indian River and Totem Trail based on bear activity. The Riverview Trail, and the Russian Memorial Loop Trail remain closed at all times. The Totem Trail is open for day use only. Additional select daytime trail closures will also be in effect when needed, depending on bear activity.

Trail status signs are posted at trail heads and trail junctions. Red indicates trails are closed due to consistent bear activity. Yellow indicates one should use caution as a bear encounter is possible, and some trails may be closed. Green indicates all trails are open and encountering a bear is less likely. Please help keep yourself and the bears safe by respecting the trail status and temporary closures. Thank you.

Daytime trail users are encouraged to be alert, make noise in areas of limited visibility, keep pets on leash and avoid areas that have recent signs of bear activity (tracks, scat, or active fishing).

For additional information on bear safety visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/bears/safety.htm or call the Visitor Center at (907) 747-0110.

All trails at Sitka National Historical Park temporarily closed due to bear activity

Due to the increased daytime presence of bears, all Sitka National Historical Park trails are closed, day and night, until further notice. 

  • Park management will cancel or update this closure based on bear activity monitoring. Please respect this closure. 
  • To get to the Alaska Raptor Center from downtown Sitka, rather than going through the park, please take Jeff Davis Street to Sawmill Creek Road, turn right and continue for 0.6 miles (about 10 minutes) to 1000 Raptor Way. 

For more details, go to the Sitka National Historical Park website, https://www.nps.gov/sitk/index.htm, or call the visitor center at 747-0110.

Park management will reevaluate bear activity each day. Check https://www.nps.gov/sitk/planyourvisit/conditions.htm to
find out whether the closure has been extended.

Find tips for staying safe in areas where bears are active at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/bears/safety.htm.

Trails along Indian River temporarily closed due to bear activity

The Russian Memorial Loop trail in the Sitka National Historical Park’s east unit is closed.

The Riverview Trail also is closed between Sawmill Creek Road (to the north) and the pedestrian bridge over Indian River (to the south). Bear encounters are possible on other trails.

For more details, go to the Sitka National Historical Park website, https://www.nps.gov/sitk/index.htm, or call the visitor center at 747-0110.

Park management will reevaluate bear activity each day. Check https://www.nps.gov/sitk/planyourvisit/conditions.htm to
find out whether the closure has been extended.

Find tips for staying safe in areas where bears are active at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/bears/safety.htm.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Friday, July 16 (CANCELED)

(NOTE: Due to Sitka’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases, SAIL is putting its ORCA program, which includes the Senior Hiking Club, on hold until further notice.)

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike event.

The hike will take place from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 16. Seniors should meet at the Sitka Cross Trail entrance at the Sitka High School back parking lot, and rides are available for those who need them. Participants should be prepared to wear masks and practice distancing while on the hike.

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 or twice a month, and now plans to alternate them on Mondays with Adventure Club events. For now the hikes are free, but usually there is a $5 fee and 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 Maria Sakowski at 747-6859 or email her at msakowski@sailinc.org.

• SAIL events calendar for July 2021

St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church to host 2021 summer Scripture Walks in the Park at Sitka National Historical Park

St Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church invites the community to join it on Wednesday evenings for its seventh summer of Scripture Walks in the Park. The group will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays this summer, starting July 7, at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor’s Center.

“It was just an idea I came up with for a  summer offering. I thought it made sense to combine a casual walk with the beauty of God’s creation here in Sitka,” said Rev. Julie Platson, the rector in charge at St. Peter’s.

Also, don’t forget to get a Park Prescriptions card at the park’s visitor center to log your walks in the park, so you can have a chance to win quarterly prizes for each completed card.

For more info, please call the church at 747-3977 or email stpetersbytheseak@gmail.com.

Sitka National Historical Park launches new color-coded bear activity alerts

Bears once again are active in Sitka, and bear footprints have been reported in Sitka National Historical Park. In anticipation of the bears’ return, park staff have worked on a new bear plan that’s intended to better and more consistently advise people on park trails about recent bear activity.

This summer you will see signs at park trailheads that use and escalating color code (green-amber-red) to caution you about bear activity. If you do not see a sign, that means no bear observations have been reported recently.

  • Green signs mean bears have been in the area (overnight use, recent scat or tracks).
  • Amber signs mean bears periodically are using limited areas near the river. Nearby trails that have been closed will be clearly signed.
  • Red signs mean bears consistently are present throughout the park during open hours. Risk of an encounter is high. All trails are closed and clearly signed.

You can help park staff by reporting bear observations in the park. This can be done by calling into the new bear hotline (907-747-0145), reporting your observation at the visitor center, or telling any park ranger. Please include the date, time, and location of the bear sighting along with a quick description of the bear and what it was doing.

The area near Kaasdahéen (Indian River) is bear habitat. Bears are a part of our surroundings and the natural ecosystem at Sitka National Historical Park. Use the new bear activity codes as a guide to inform your decision about whether or not to use a trail. Realize that bears could be present at unexpected times. We hope you will join us in respecting the awesomeness, power, and laws of nature that govern bear behavior, and please be bear aware.

For suggestions on how to behave when a bear is nearby, visit http://www.nps.gov/sitk/learn/nature/mammals.htm.

Sitka Trail Works to host a summer of hikes, bike rides, other events in 2021

Sitka Trail Works will offer a variety of hiking, bike rides and other events as part of its annual summer guided hike series.

After losing much of the 2020 summer guided hike series to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sitka Trail Works will have Covid mitigation policies in place this year to prevent the spread of the pandemic. This includes pre-event screening. The events are led by volunteer board members.

The series opens at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, with a Sitka Cross Trail bike ride that starts at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op (behind Hames Wellness Center). This bike ride will give cyclists a chance to ride the five new single-track mountain bike loops built off the Cross Trail by the Sitka Cycling Club last summer.

Other events in town include the Ben Grussendorf Forest and Muskeg Trail and Starrigavan Trail Loop hike on Sunday, May 16; a Herring Cove and Beaver Lake Trail hike on Saturday, May 22; an Indian River Waterfall hike on Saturday, June 12; a Mosquito Cove Trail hike on Saturday, June 26; a Gavan Trail to Harbor Mountain hike on Saturday, July 3; a Verstovia Trail hike on Saturday, July 24; and a Thimbleberry to Heart Lake to Sawmill Creek Loop hike on Saturday, Aug. 7. The in-town events are free, but membership donations are encouraged to help with trail maintenance. In addition, there is a National Trails Day maintenance party at a trail to be announced on Saturday, June 5.

There also are three out-of-town events costing $110 each (price includes boat trips to the trails). These events include the Mount Edgecumbe Hike on Sunday, July 18; the Shelikof Bike Ride on Sunday, Aug. 1; and another Mount Edgecumbe Hike on Sunday, Aug. 15. Space is limited on these trips, so register early.

Finally, there are two running events on the calendar, both with limited space. The Medvejie Solstice Run is on Saturday, June 19; and the Alpine Adventure Run is on Saturday, July 17. These events are hosted by other groups, but included on the calendar.

For more information and schedule updates, go to the online calendar at https://sitkatrailworks.org/weekend-hikes/. For other details, call Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244, or visit http://sitkatrailworks.org.