Outdoor Features

Arctica wins 18th annual regatta

Two days of sunshine, but more importantly two days of an accommodating wind on Kachemak Bay drew eight boats out for Saturday’s start of the 18th annual Homer Yacht Club-Land’s End Resort Regatta.

Six completed both days of the two-day event, with Arctica taking first place. 

“I want to thank my crew,” said Arctica’s Captain Craig Forrest, acknowledging the winning efforts of Liska Kandror, Kelsey Kleine and Johann Willrich.

Weeds may be ‘medicine at your front door’

What use does a dandelion have besides being a weed in a garden? Does devil’s club really have medicinal qualities? That and many more questions were answered by Nancy Lee-Evans during the Medicinal Plant Walk June 12 at Bishop’s Beach.

The class, part of the diverse series of Thriving Thursday wellness classes offered by Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, attracted a large crowd in spite of the rain and gusting wind. 

Breeding Bird Survey conducted by listening to songs

I saw the moon for the first time this summer. Waking up at 2 a.m. brings a new perspective to the seemingly perpetual daylight of Alaska summers. However, this darkness didn’t last long, and after a blurry-eyed car ride, I found myself at the turnoff to Skilak Lake Road. Here, Toby Burke and I prepared for the 50 stops to come this morning as we waited for 4 a.m. It was time, once again, to collect data for the National Breeding Bird Survey on one of the many designated routes within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Coordinated effort gets help for eagle

When Bernie and Marion Simon arrived at their Kasitsna Bay cabin on June 19, they were greeted by a bald eagle that appeared to be suffering from a wing injury.

“The poor guy was hungry and so cold and wet,” said Marion Simon. “He couldn’t hop around. He kept stepping on his wing.”

The Simons took herring out of their freezer and cut it up to feed the bird.

“He just about ate them right out of our hand,” said Simon.

Plants thrive after wildfire

The massive wildfire that recently engulfed a good chunk of the Kenai Peninsula landscape may look like a bleak, uninviting place for some time, but regenerative ecological forces are already at work. As we embrace the hard work, dedicated suppression efforts, and good fortune that resulted in a positive community outcome, many of our floral friends can rejoice in the opportunities of the fire-altered system.

Church gives park plenty of TLC

This spring Karen Hornaday Park got a lot of love. And not just from young people. Between 40 and 50 volunteers, coordinated through Church on the Rock Homer, prepared the playground, campground and ball fields for a summer of fun.

Through the City of Homer’s Adopt-A-Park Program, the church, which has an average attendance of 450-500 people, has committed to perform spring and fall maintenance on the park. 

Volunteers work, learn on Trails Day

Before the Saturday morning bustle had a chance to begin, volunteer teams with the 17th annual Trails Day had already embarked to the Kachemak Bay State Park from Homer to tackle nine different trail clearing and building projects. In spite of the drizzling showers, all 79 local and visiting volunteers who signed up showed up.

Kachemak Ski Club: enjoying homer’s slopes since ’48

For centuries, traveling across snow on skis has been a common way to travel in Alaska. Given that history, it’s not surprising that one of Homer’s oldest and still active recreational clubs is the Kachemak Ski Club, the organization that has operated a succession of rope tows on Diamond Ridge and off Ohlson Mountain Road. Founded in 1948 as the Homer Ski Club, in its day alpine skiing was one of Homer’s major winter activities.

Don’t overthink it, just garden

Be prepared to shift your expectations. Anything can happen in March: single digits, a ton of snow, wind. Name it, and be ready. I won’t turn the heat on in the greenhouse until the first week in April. In the meantime, all the starts are under lights in the guest room. Good thing there aren’t any guests. 

Sloppy weather proves mettle of fat bikes

Cold temperatures and wet sand didn’t stop the cyclists at Bishop’s Beach last Friday as they celebrated 2014’s Big Fat Bike Festival. 

Whipping their large wheeled machines around a built obstacle course of teeter-totters, log bridges and angled walls, the participating riders clearly enjoyed being able to ride where other cyclists couldn’t. This year’s festival, sponsored by the Homer Cycling Club, gave them plenty of opportunity to do it. 

Gardening season begins in earnest

February. The days are certainly noticeably longer. The weather certainly noticeably strange. Winter started three weeks ago. Does this mean that it will last until the end of July?  

What to do? 

Pull out your begonias, fuchsias and geraniums and get on with it.  Now.

These stored plants will need a good soak and a sunny, clean window. Thankfully I washed said window when the temps were in the 40s.

Tour has ‘perfect’ conditions

Last-minute snowfalls made for good skiing for the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club’s Wine and Cheese and Wooden Ski Tour on Sunday.

“We were really sweating bullets,” said organizer Kevin Walker. “Thursday it was glare ice. Then there was an inch (of snow) here, an inch there, three inches Saturday morning, three more inches Sunday morning, so it turned out to be really good conditions.”

The annual event serves as a fundraiser for the club, usually bringing in around $2,000 and attracting 75-100 skiers. This year, the crowd was a bit smaller.

Winter Sundays warmer with Wynn’s bonfires

Oh, what a difference a few hundred feet in elevation can make.

At sea level Sunday, it was spring-like. Green grass poked through melting layers of snow on front yards and temperatures actually reached the low 40s. Up on East Skyline Drive, the sun was shining, but there was definitely more snow and the warm bonfire at Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies’ Wynn Nature Center marked the beginning of CACS’ Sunday bonfires, a free, family-friendly event.

Pigs, parade back for ’13 Ninilchik fair

The Ninilchik fairgrounds was home to two days of rodeo excitement in July. Last weekend it was the site of Salmonstock, a three-day celebration of “fish, fun and music” presented by the Renewable Resources Foundation. (See related story.)

Now it’s the Kenai Peninsula State Fair’s turn to fill the fairgrounds with three days of “clammin’ it up” excitement. 

Dipnetting goes 24/7 on Kenai River

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Monday announced the extension of Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishing to 24 hours per day through the end of the month.

The department is allowed by state law to extend fishing hours when the Kenai River late sockeye salmon run is expected to exceed 2.3 million fish.

The defined dipnet fishing area remains the same.

Until Monday night, fishing was allowed only from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Kenai River king fishery restricted

After four days of dwindling late run king salmon counts on the Kenai River, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Tuesday that anglers would be restricted to catch-and-release and trophy king salmon fishing through the rest of the season.

Beginning Thursday, any king between 20 inches and 55 inches in size may not be retained or removed from the water and must be released immediately, according to a Fish and Game emergency order.

Area shooters medal during black powder event held July 10-14

Four Anchor Point shooters and one Nikolaevsk shooter competed at the Alaska State Territorial Shoot July 10-14. Four of the participants earned gold, silver and bronze medals for their accuracy in shooting black powder guns.

For 10-year-old Abigail Thomas of Anchor Point it was the first time to participate.

“Abby had never shot before and out of a possible 100 got 63 points on two targets,” said Sandy Thomas of Nikolaevsk, and three-year winner of the “top shot” title.

Dipnetters not allowed to keep kings

Dipnetters participating in the personal-use fishery at the mouth of the Kenai River are prohibited from retaining king salmon. The fishery opened July 10.

Due to poor performance of king salmon stocks in Cook Inlet and other parts of the state, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is taking management steps to conserve Kenai River king salmon in an effort to avoid additional restrictions or closure of the sport fishery, the department said in a Monday press release.

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