Relay For Life of Sitka helps raise money for cancer research and patient services


relay for life logoSitka residents can honor friends and family who have battled cancer while raising money for cancer research and patient services by participating in the Relay For Life of Sitka. The event takes place from 6 p.m. on Friday, June 10, through 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, at the Moller Field track.

Individuals and relay team members will take turns walking or running around the track as part of the family oriented fundraiser. There will be food, games and other fun to build camaraderie during the event. At night, luminarias (bags with sand and candles in them) will be lit in honor of people who have had cancer. At 9 a.m. on Saturday, there will be a 5-kilometer fun run for those who feel like racing.

RelayForLife5KRunAll money raised from the Relay For Life of Sitka goes toward cancer research and patient services, both to the benefit of local Alaskans. Some of the services include advice on cancer therapies and treatment, counseling and wigs, and lodging for patients and their families (sometimes for free) when they have to travel to Anchorage or Seattle for treatment.

So far in 2016, there seven teams and 38 participants who have raised more than $5,600 for the Relay For Life of Sitka.

The American Cancer Society helped fund the discovery of chemotherapy, radiation, mammography, and the mapping of the breast cancer genome. Today, there are patients all over Alaska who benefit from the research that Alaskans help sponsor — including some drugs like Gleevec, which enables some leukemia patients to turn their cancer into a manageable condition, without need of invasive surgery or harmful treatment. Every year, the American Cancer Society funds thousands of doctors and scientists to make this cancer’s last century.

For more information, contact Shoshauna Schmidt at 966-8575 or To learn more about the 5K fun run, contact Jessica Holland at 966-8451 or You can register or donate online at this link.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, May 26


Senior Hiking Club flyer May 2016The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 26 (note time change from usual schedule). Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the trailhead for Thimbleberry Trail.

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 Claire Sanchez at 747-6859 or email her at The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

Sitka National Historical Park to host spring bird migration walks


Western sandpiper (Photo by Arman Moreno, Courtesy of Sitka National Historical Park)

SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignJoin a ranger for a stroll through the park enjoying, observing and learning about the diverse migrant and resident bird species of Sitka. The Sitka National Historical Park’s Ranger-guided bird walks are free and open to beginner and experienced bird watchers.

There are three spring migration bird walks scheduled in May — from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17; from 9-10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 21; and from 9-10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 28. Don’t forget to pick up a Park Prescriptions punchcard from the park’s visitors center before the bird walks.

Participants should dress appropriately and be prepared to spend the majority of the program outside in variable weather conditions. Those who have binoculars are encouraged to bring them to the program. There will be a limited number of park service provided binoculars and field guides available for participants.

The program will begin and conclude at the park’s visitor center. For more information about the spring migration bird walks, please contact Ryan Carpenter at (907) 747-0121 or at

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 409 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about the Sitka National Historical Park at or visit our Facebook page:

Walk MS Sitka on May 21 will raise money for multiple sclerosis research and awareness

Walk MS Poster 2016

Sitka will host its second Walk MS event at 9:30 a.m. (registration at 9 a.m.) on Saturday, May 21, at Sawmill Cove Industrial Park. This is the 26th anniversary of Walk MS, a national series of walks to raise money for programs and services, research, treatment and awareness of multiple sclerosis.

Walk MS Sitka will feature a 1.5-mile walk along the new coastal multi-use path from Sawmill Cove Industrial Park to Whale Park. Transportation will be available to take people back to the walk’s start line, or people can walk back to Sawmill Cove Industrial Park.

From left, Dillon Peavey, 9, Jaden Costelo 9, and Jaira Costelo, 8, lead the first Walk MS Sitka event Saturday morning, May 30, 2015. About 100 people participated in the walk from the Gary Paxton Industrial Park to Whale Park. Although donations were accepted, organizers Patricia Atkinson and Colleen Dahlquist said the event was held to raise awareness of the chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

From left, Dillon Peavey, 9, Jaden Costelo 9, and Jaira Costelo, 8, lead the first Walk MS Sitka event Saturday morning, May 30, 2015. About 100 people participated in the walk from the Gary Paxton Industrial Park to Whale Park. Although donations were accepted, organizers Patricia Atkinson and Colleen Dahlquist said the event was held to raise awareness of the chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

“People participating in the Walk MS Sitka 2016 are showing their love and support for people who are affected by multiple sclerosis,” Walk MS Sitka local coordinator Patricia Atkinson said. “People can sign up ahead of time on the Walk MS Sitka homepage, or at the walk. Donations are welcome, and stay in the Pacific Northwest to support research, education, and individuals.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is thought to be an immune-mediated disorder, in which the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the central nervous system. MS can cause many symptoms, including blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, and blindness, and more. These problems may come and go or persist and worsen over time. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although individuals as young as 2 and as old as 75 have developed it.

To register online, go to, find the Sitka AK page (zip code 99835), and register as a team or an individual (please make sure you put Sitka in the team title when you register). People also can register onsite at the Sawmill Cove Industrial Park. If you can’t make the actual walk, you still can go online and pledge your financial support. All money raised in Alaska stays in Alaska.

“Rain or shine, show your support for people living with MS and join us!” Atkinson said.

For more information, contact Patricia Atkinson in Sitka at (907) 317-0619 or contact National MS Society Community Engagement Manager Cassey Bradley-Leonardis at (907) 331-0179 or You also can like the Walk MS Sitka page on Facebook to get updates.

• Multiple Sclerosis 101 (facts about MS)


Sitka National Historical Park hosts a variety of educational ranger-led walks each day during the summer


The Sitka National Historical Park offers a variety of daily guided walking tours that teach Sitka residents and visitors about the park’s natural and cultural resources. The guided walks program launches on Monday, May 9.

SNHPsign81109-008-small-500x375The Battle Walk returns to the battleground and former fort site of the Tlingít-Russian Battle of 1804, which was pivotal in determining the history of the Alaska region. Offered most days, this guided walk is approximately three-quarters of a mile, and lasts about 45 minutes to one hour.

The Totem Walk tells the stories and legends of the totem poles on the Totem Loop Trail, focusing on the common totem figures, the origins of the 1903 John Brady collection, carving methods, and the native culture of Southeast Alaska. Offered most days, this guided walk is approximately one mile, and lasts about 45 minutes to one hour.

The Sea Otter Discovery Talk teaches visitors about the ecological, cultural, and historical importance of sea otters and how they are uniquely adapted to their ocean environment. The talk lasts about 15 minutes.

The Russian-American History Downtown Walking Tour visits sites related to Sitka’s Russian American Heritage, including the Russian Bishop’s House, St Michael’s Cathedral, Building 29, the Blockhouse, and Castle Hill. This guided walk is approximately half a mile, and lasts about one hour.

The schedule may vary from day to day due to which cruise ships are in town and all walks aren’t offered each day. Each week’s schedule is posted at this link. Please check the link regularly, because new walking tours may be added throughout the summer.

All ranger-led tours meet at the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center, except for the Russian-American History Downtown Walking Tour, which meets at the Russian Bishop’s House.

For more information about the ranger-guided tours at Sitka National Historical Park, call the visitor center at 747-0110. Also, don’t forget to get a Park Prescriptions card to log your walks in the park, so you can have a chance to win quarterly prizes for each completed card.

Sitka Trail Works releases weekend guided hike schedule for the 2016 summer

SitkaTrailWorksLogoSitka Trail Works will kick off its 2016 summer series of weekend hikes on Saturday, May 7, with a lesson on geocaching taught by volunteers. After a short tutorial at 8:30 a.m. at the Sitka High School entrance to the Cross Trail, participants will go discover some local geocaches (bring a smartphone or GPS device, if you have one).

The series of weekend hikes are led by various members of Sitka Trail Works, and there also are occasional bike rides and kayak trips on the schedule. Most of the hikes near town are free (donations are accepted), but some of the hikes require a boat trip and those have fees. The schedule runs through the end of August.

Sitka Trail Works recently announced the repair Heart Lake Stream trail-crossing on the Thimbleberry and Heart Lakes Trail, with a crew led by Troy Bayne. They also fixed part of the Cross Trail. These trails were repaired using state disaster funds following the Aug. 18, 2015, landslide.

On National Trails Day (Saturday, June 4), Sitka Trail Works and other groups will work on repair work to Cross Trail from the water tower to Cascade. This project starts at 9 a.m. on June 4, and people should meet at the Kimsham Trailhead. Tools will be available, but you should bring gloves, pruners and toppers, if you have them.

Don’t forget to check the Sitka Trail Works website for current trail condition reports.

Earth Month activities include the Parade of the Species, a youth eco-challenge, gardening classes, and more


Earth month 2016FlyerEarth Day is on Friday, April 22, and Earth Week is April 17-23. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including a couple of spring clean-up events, an animal mask-making class, a recycled costume-making class, two gardening classes, a nature walk with story-telling, a community hike, a youth eco-challenge, and the 15th annual Earth Day Parade of the Species.

The Alaska Way of Life 4H Club will host a recycled costume-making class from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13. This is a good time for kids to make their costumes for the Parade of the Species. Contact Molly at 747-7509 for more details (including the class location).

The Spruce-Up Sitka Clean-Up seeks volunteers to meet at noon on Thursday, April 14, to pick-up trash around Blue Lake campground. This event requires a hike of about two miles into the campground and two miles out. Contact Galen Paine at (206) 535-0406 for more details.

SpringCleanup2016There also is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 16-24, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the transfer station and the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard. This event is hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

It’s not on the Earth Month calendar, but the RIDE public transit in Sitka will offer free bus rides again this year during Earth Week (April 18-22). This has been a yearly offering from the RIDE, which is operated by a partnership between Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the nonprofit Center for Community.

Sitka Conservation Society will host a community hike at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, at the Thimbleberry Trailhead. Contact Molly at 747-7509 for details.

The Sitka Public Library (formerly Kettleson Memorial Library) will host an animal mask-making class at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, at the library.

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club and Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP) will host a nature walk with storytelling featuring Chuck Miller teaching traditional Tlingít stories. This event is from 3:45-5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, and you can contact or 747-7509 for registration details (including hike location).

slfn-newlogo copyThe Sitka Local Foods Network will host two free gardening classes during Earth Week. Jennifer Carter will teach “Everyone Can Compost,” which takes place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). Michelle Putz will teach “Growing Potatoes in Sitka,” which takes place from 9-10 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, at her house (131 Shelikof Street). Contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520 or check the Sitka Local Foods Network website for more details.

2016 Eco-challenge adThe Sitka Conservation Society Earth Day Clean-Up takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, April 22, at a location TBA. SCS staff and board members will be at this event, and car pools are encouraged. Call 747-7509 for more details.

The third annual youth eco-challenge is free and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 23, at the Sitka National Historical Park. School-aged youth teams (grades 2-8) will test their outdoor skills and teamwork while they make their way through the Sitka National Historical Park. Sign up in teams of four, or as individuals to be put on a team. Teams of multiple ages are recommended. It’s a race. Limited spots available, so register early. Contact Molly Johnson to register, 747-7509 or

Parade of the Species FlyerFinally, the 15th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 22. Parade participants are invited to dress as their favorite animal or plant and gallop, slither, swim, or fly with us. We will meet in Totem Square at 2:45 p.m. and parade down Lincoln Street to Harrigan Centennial Hall at 3:15 p.m. There will be a number of community organizations with hands-on Earth Day inspired activities for the whole family from 3:30-5:30 p.m. after the parade. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, and Best Local Plant/Animal. For more information, contact or call 747-7509. A slideshow of scenes from the 2015 Parade of the Species is posted below.

• Sitka Earth Month Events Schedule for 2016

• Parade of species flier 2016

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