SEARHC hosts Heart of the Matter Challenge in February for Heart Month

In honor of American Heart Month in February, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Health Promotion program invites any resident of Southeast Alaska to sign up for a new 28-day health challenge that is tailored to you. The Heart of the Matter Challenge starts on Monday, Feb. 1, and ends on Sunday, Feb. 28.

During February, participants will choose a personal health goal such as improved nutrition, increasing physical activity, stress management, quitting tobacco, or anything that enhances your physical and emotional well-being. This event is open to all ages, and is free for people in all SEARHC communities. There are weekly prize drawings for all participants who submit their progress reports.

If you have any additional questions, please contact Heleena van Veen at 907-966-8914 or

Join Walk Sitka’s 2020 team in the APHA’s Keep It Moving Challenge

Are you a regular walker, one who uses a pedometer or fitness app to track your daily step count? Then join the Walk Sitka team in the American Public Health Association‘s Keep It Moving Challenge (formerly known as the Billion Steps Challenge), a national event that runs from Jan. 1 through April 11, 2021. The contest ends after National Public Health Week (April 5-11).

This event is free, and the competition helps motivate people to get out and do more walking. Many people set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day, and that adds up over the contest that lasts just a bit longer than three months. This year there are ways to convert other activities into steps to log into the walking challenge.

Most of the final stats from the 2019 and 2020 challenges aren’t available, but Walk Sitka’s Jim Rogers did finish in the top five individually with about 2.2 million steps in 2019. Another Sitka resident, Karen Hegyi, who was competing for a family team called AKtoAZ, ranked among the top 10 for the first several weeks of the 2019 challenge, but faded out of the top 10 after a back injury. There were a couple of teams from Alaska, including Walk/Bike Alaska. In 2019, there were more than 5,000 walkers on more than 400 teams in the challenge, and together they walked 1.56 billion steps. The top three teams in 2019 were CrisfieldWalks, Falisha Got This 2019 and Wonderful Walkers. No standings were available from 2020.

In 2017, Walk Sitka only had one person walking (Charles Bingham), but he recorded more than half-a-million steps while averaging about 8,500 a day (finishing in the top 60 teams). In 2018, Walk Sitka had two people walking (Karen Hegyi and Charles Bingham), and Walk Sitka recorded more than 2.8 million steps (an average of 14,655 steps a day) to finish fourth overall. There was one other identifiable Alaska team in the 2018 Billion Steps Challenge — Anchorage Public Health DHHS — which recorded more than 14.5 million steps but only had an average of 3,529 steps per day to finish 176th overall. There were 400 teams in the 2018 event, who totaled more than 2.2 billion steps.

To sign up, click this link. Once you’re registered, you should be directed to this link. Click on the Teams link, then scroll through the team names to find the Walk Sitka logo. or type our name in the search bar Click the Join Team button and you’re in. The Walk Sitka team is open to walkers from Sitka, Alaska.

The challenge uses a website called WalkerTracker, which links to a variety of fitness apps for automatic registration of steps. The Walker Tracker app is available in the App Store for iPhone or Google Play store for android. If you’re using the app to sign up, be sure to use “” as your “program URL.” But if you’re old school and use a pedometer clipped to your belt, there is a link so you can manually enter your steps.

SAIL to host first Senior Hiking Club hike since March

After a hiatus of seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike event, its first event since March. The hike will take place from 2-4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26. Seniors should meet at the Sitka Cross Trail trailhead near Sitka High School, 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

SEARHC hosts Stay Active, Stay Bright Challenge Oct. 19 to Nov. 16

The new 29-day SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Stay Active, Stay Bright fall fitness challenge starts on Monday, Oct. 19, and runs through Monday, Nov. 16. This fitness challenge is open to all residents of Southeast Alaska, not just those in Sitka.

SEARHC has some great weekly prizes for this free, all-ages program that has participants track active minutes outdoors. Participants can track walking, biking, hunting, chopping firewood, raking leaves, playing tag with the kids or grandkids, chasing the dog, and other active minutes outdoors.

Since it’s getting dark this time of the year, participants are encouraged to wear bright, reflective jackets while outdoors for their safety. Among the prizes are high-visibility jackets by Grundéns.

To find out more and sign up, just click on this link, 

Sitka Trail Works to hold annual meeting on Monday, Oct. 19

Sitka Trail Works members and the public are cordially invited to join the group’s annual meeting, which will be held on Zoom. The meeting will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19. 

To join online visit, enter meeting ID 439 583 8904 and password “trail”.  To connect by phone instead, please contact the STW office in advance for details.

Those with questions may call Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244 or visit

Sitka National Historical Park closes all park trails due to bear activity

All trails at Sitka National Historical Park will be closed day and night until further notice. This is because of an increase in the daytime presence of bears.

Park management will monitor bear activity and will cancel or update the closure, depending on bear activity and risks to public safety.

For more information, contact the park’s visitor center at 747-0110, or check the park’s website at A list of bear safety tips can be found at this link.

Sitka Counseling hosts Walk For Recovery on Saturday, Sept. 26

September is National Recovery Month, a month set aside to help educate Americans about substance use and mental health disorders. In Sitka, people can honor the month by participating in the Walk For Recovery on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Meet at Harrigan Centennial Hall by 10 a.m. to join the socially distanced walk over the O’Connell Bridge and back. This event celebrates those who are in recovery from mental health and substance use disorder. A limited number of free t-shirts are available, and participants are asked to please wear masks. This event is hosted by Sitka Counseling.

Sitka Sound Science Center announces last two guided tide pool walks of summer

The Sitka Sound Science Center is excited to announce its last two Guided Tide Pool Walks of the summer. There will be two walks this week, at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20, and at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 21.

Join SSSC Aquarium Manager Sandy McClung for a morning of fun tide pool exploration. We will meet in front of the Mill Building, and after a brief intertidal overview, participants will head out to Sage Beach (adjacent to the Science Center) to look for the amazing animals that call the intertidal zone home. Walk will last approximately one hour. Due to COVID-19, we are asking all participants older than the age of 5 years old to wear a face covering, and to maintain social distancing.

The cost is $10/adults, $5/kids (ages 3-12), space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Identification cards are provided. To book your spot, visit and click Book Now. For more information, contact Sandy at 747-8878, Ext. 16, or

SEARHC to host Wednesday walking group during August

SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) health promotion staff will host weekly fitness walks starting on Aug. 5. The weekly walks take place at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays during August at the lower Moller Field track.

Everyone is asked to bring and wear a clean face-covering (mask) and follow public health guidelines about social distancing. Walkers will walk around the track as many times as they like to increase their step counts for the 29-day Start Stepping Southeast walking challenge that runs Aug. 3-31. Prizes are available for participants in this challenge.

For more information, contact Doug Osborne at 966-8674 or, or go to to register your steps.

Sitka Trail Works to host trail maintenance event on Sunday, other events later in August

Volunteers are needed to pull alders along the Sawmill Creek Road separated path during the Sitka Trail Works trail maintenance event at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 2.

Individuals should bring water and gloves and meet at the gravel parking lot about a quarter of a mile past Whale Park on the left side of the road.

Tools and a limited number of gloves will be provided. A mandatory COVID-19 pre-screening questionnaire and a liability waiver must be completed prior to participation.

Social distancing between different household groups and the wearing of face coverings (masks) are being encouraged. Teens wanting to help must attend with an adult.

On Saturday, Aug. 8, there will be a 14-mile Herring Cove to Medvejie Bike Ride (seven miles each way). For this event, meet at 10 a.m. at the Herring Cove Trail parking area off Sawmill Creek Road. This mountain bike ride is moderate in difficulty over gravel roads.

On Saturday, Aug. 15, there is a five-mile Verstovia Hike. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Verstovia Trailhead for a strenuous uphill climb.

There also is a Sitka Half-Century Bike Ride scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 22-23, where people will ride a course as individuals then record their rides with the Sitka Cycling Club. Last year there also were shorter courses for those riders who didn’t feel up to doing a full 50 miles. Details for this event are still being finalized, so watch the Sitka Cycling Club website for more info.

These events are free, but donations to Sitka Trail Works will be accepted. The donations for the Verstovia Hike will be split 50-50 with Waypoint For Veterans, a Sitka-based nonprofit that provides outdoors opportunities for veterans and first responders.

For more information about these events, call 747-7244 or visit