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.

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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.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 18

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, Jan. 18. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Sitka National Historical Park‘s totem trails.

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 January 2018

Be Safe, Be Seen as you ride your bike or walk during the dark hours of winter

Sitka is lucky because our mild climate allows most of us to bike and walk throughout the winter. But cyclists and walkers also need to take care to make sure they can be seen by drivers, especially since there is so little daylight this time of year. In recent weeks the Sitka Police have recorded several car-walker, car-cyclist, and cyclist-walker collisions, and said visibility was an issue in most of them.

Take a look at the photo above. Can you see the cyclist? This cyclist just rode through one of Sitka’s best-lighted intersections (Lincoln Street and Lake Street), but he’s wearing dark clothes and you can’t see him even though he does have a working taillight. By the way, the cyclist is in the right center of the photo, between the car’s taillights and the fire hydrant, near the Moose Lodge parking lot. There also is a walker ready to cross the street in front of Stereo North, who has some reflective bands on his sleeves but could use a bright jacket.

This time of the year provides special problems when it comes to visibility. In addition to fewer daylight hours, there also are problems with window condensation in cars and the lower sun angles sometimes can be in the eyes of drivers.  When it rains or snows, that also can obscure visibility. Even though pedestrians aren’t in the roads as much as cyclists, they still need to be visible to traffic especially at driveways and other crosswalks.

So how do you make yourself more visible, like the cyclist in the second photo (in the orange jacket with reflective tape)?

First, Alaska state laws require cyclists riding outside the daylight hours to have at least one working headlight that can emit a beam of light for at least 500 feet, a working taillight that can be seen from at least 500 feet, and reflectors (see Page 2). To make themselves more visible and to help light their way, many Sitka cyclists will have more than one headlight, taillight and reflector on their bike.

Next, wear white or bright clothes that can be seen at night. Many Sitka cyclists and walkers have started wearing traffic yellow or traffic orange rain jackets, which are designed to be visible at great distances. Some of these jackets have built-in reflective tape. Other people wear reflective vests, similar to what construction workers wear.

Finally, get some reflective tape and wrap it around your bike frame. You can purchase your own reflective items at most outdoors gear stores in Sitka. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center in Anchorage used to provide free reflective tape by clicking this link (they may not have it available now), but the AIPC website has tips about how to Walk Safe and Bike Safe. The link has a chart showing how reflective tape can increase a person’s visibility, even more so than wearing lighter clothes. If you have kids who walk or bike a lot, put the reflective tape all over their clothes, backpacks and lunch pails. You also can find elastic bands with reflective tape, or reflective tape built into jackets, hats and even shoes.

Remember, we are sharing the roads and so we should do what we can to make it easier for drivers to see us. Not only should we Be Safe, Be Seen, but we also need to follow the rules of the road by riding our bikes on the right side of traffic (ride with traffic, and walk on the left facing traffic) and in a predictable manner.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 4

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, Jan. 4. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Indian River 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 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 January 2018

Join Walk Sitka’s team in the APHA’s 1 Billion Steps 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 1 Billion Steps Challenge, a national event that runs from Jan. 1 through April 8, 2018. The contest ends after National Public Health Week (April 2-8).

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 98 days. Last year, 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).

To sign up, click this link and scroll toward the bottom to find the Walk Sitka logo. Then click the Join Team button and you’re in. The challenge uses a website called StrideKick that links to a variety of fitness apps for automatic registration of steps. 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.

Also, keep an eye out for a month-long walking and biking challenge in February co-hosted by Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Details will be posted soon, and you can record your steps for both events.

Sitka Trail Works completes repairs to Mosquito Cove Trail after October rain event

A deep sink hole developed along the Mosquito Cove Trail during a three-inch rainfall event in October. As you may know, Sitka Trail Works has been completing maintenance projects on the popular Mosquito Cove Trail since Alaska State Parks cut funding for a local position and office. The repair projects help keep the trails safe and in shape so they can be used for many years.

Phase II trail upgrades had just been completed by U.S. Forest Service Trail Crew in September, before the storm. The Phase II repairs were made with a $51,369 grant from the Alaska Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which allowed work to be done on the back side of the trail. The Phase II repairs featured 45 helicopter bags of rock and six loads of lumber being lifted to improve drainage and prevent washouts.

In the more recent project, Sitka Trail Works employees Jerad and Trent Bayne recently made repairs to the sink hole and also removed a fallen tree.