Outdoor Features

Kayak building class keeps ancient Inuit art alive

I gently set my new skin-on-frame sea kayak into the Mariner Slough, and then shoehorned myself into the tight cockpit. As I readied myself, the outgoing current tried to pull me loose from the shore. I set my paddle to lock me into place while I secured my neoprene spray skirt around the opening and pulled on gloves. At the mouth of the slough and all along the shore, 4 to 6-foot waves crashed, the water being most dynamic where the current met the waves. I set my eyes on this zone, studied it for a minute, took a breath and shoved off. How the new-to-me kayak would handle big waves was a mystery and one I was anxious to solve.

Dispatches From the WWOOF Capital of Alaska

Of the 80 or so farms, homesteads, ranches, hatcheries and homestays that make up the Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms, or WWOOF, network in Alaska, Homer has a whopping 40 of them. From aquaponics to pig farming to permaculture design to cold hardy garlic breeding to survival bushcraft skills, Homer has a wealth of knowledge to pair with incoming helpers.

The adventure trail

The idea behind any wilderness bicycling adventure is to ride as much as possible. This often means shifting into the lowest gear and focusing every ounce of attention to make it over watermelon sized rocks, deadfall trees, through knee-deep creeks, and other assorted obstacles one is bound to encounter in the backcountry. For me, the challenge is a rewarding and personal one, but when riding with good-natured friends any “dab,” which is jokingly called out anytime a foot touches the ground, is to be avoided.

Learning from the tourists: halibut fishing is a heck of a lot of fun

Every summer we jaded Homerites sometimes scoff at the sport halibut fishermen who head out almost daily (except Wednesdays) on charter boats. “Pukers,” we might call them, because of course none of us get seasick. Alaskans will drive 80 miles or motor across Kachemak Bay and try our luck dipnetting should-to-shoulder for salmon, but go out on an all-day charter boat halibut fishing trip? That’s so touristy.

Couple completes first fat bike journey from Point Hope to Utqiagvik

In the past 10 years since fat bikes have become popular for riding on beaches and snow in Alaska, people have regularly ridden them from Anchor Point to Homer or into the snowy backcountry of the Caribou Hills. On Saturday, Homer couple Kim McNett and Bjørn Olson finished taking their fat bikes where no one has ever ridden before, about 450 miles in a 24-day trip from Point Hope to Utqiagvik, much of it on Arctic beaches.

Big bird, big appetite

A bald eagle sits near its nest by the Homer motorhome dump on June 24, 2017, across the Sterling Highway from the Homer Post Office. Since 2010, a pair of bald eagles has nested in the area near Beluga Slough south of the Lake Street and Sterling Highway intersection. The first nest was destroyed when the tree fell down in a winter storm. In 2012 the eagles built a new nest across from the Homer Post Office by the motorhome dump station. In 2014 they built another nest in a new tree closer to the slough. In 2016 they built another nest, but in 2017 moved back to the post office location.

Shorebird celebrates 25 years

The 25th annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival celebrates its silver anniversary with a look backward to one of the first birders to document the annual arrival of shorebirds to Homer. George West, who died in 2016, is the festival’s featured artist. His painting of five shorebirds serves as the festival’s logo this year.

64 species, 10,492 individual birds seen during Homer's annual Christmas bird count

Forty-two volunteers participated in Homer’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, five watching feeders in their own yard and the others out in the field.

The weather was not too cooperative with icy walking, limited visibility for most of the day and resulting decreased available daylight hours, but many were expressing the same thought, “We’ve seen much worse!”

A total of 64 species were seen on the Count Day (Saturday, Dec. 17).

Strange fish found in deep waters

Jay Landreville, deckhand on the Arctic Envy of Silver Fox Charters, holds up a wolf-fish a client caught July 12 off Pogibshi Point. The client had been jigging for rockfish when he caught the wolffish. Landreville of Hutchinson, Minn., estimated the fish was between 4.5 and 5 feet long. They let the fish go.

Glenn Holliwell, a fish biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Homer, confirmed the identification of the wolffish. Holliwell wrote in an email that the wolffish he’s seen are usually dark brown, but do have a reddish-brown color phase.

Kayak smart and safe this summer

Kayaking, though a popular summer activity in Homer, can prove dangerous if not approached with the proper information and equipment.

“Homer has had, I think, two kayak deaths. There have been numerous people who have gotten into trouble and had to be rescued,” said True North Kayak Adventures founding member Alison O’Hara. “That happens occasionally and that can be the realm of people not being aware of the tides … and get swept out to sea. Kayaks tip over. The occasional person gets into trouble because of poor judgment or the weather kicks in.”

Synergy Gardens celebrates garlic, local produce

One greenhouse, two high tunnels, three fenced open-air garden plots and three-and-a-half years of work make up Synergy Gardens, a producer of Homer-grown vegetables.

Located about 10 miles out East End Road on Wilderness Lane, Synergy Gardens is owned by three humans and one dog — Lori and Wayne Jenkins, their son Obie, and a Golden-Bernese mountain dog mix named Lilu.

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