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.
Zounds! It is late Saturday and I have spent the day stuffing every available space in the perennial beds with annuals. I know, don’t plant out your tender starts on a sunny day, but there hasn’t been anything else so one needs to get the job done, and done it is. What a relief.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more than 100 years people have been doing amazing things with bicycles, in Alaska. In 1898 a handful of hardy souls rode over 1,000 miles from Dawson to Nome — well before cars, trains or even roads.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
One minute, Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds’ bleachers were empty and water-soaked clouds hovered above the rodeo arena. Within minutes, a much larger crowd had taken their seats and, in spite of occasional rain, eagerly soaked up the action at the Ninilchik Family Style Rodeo on Saturday and Sunday.
Claiming first place for the first time in the Homer Yacht Club’s annual regatta was Capt. Ron Downing of Homer and his 28-foot Bristol Channel Cutter, Morning Star.
Saturday’s thick fog and Sunday’s lack of wind threw a couple of curve balls into the two-day event, adding to the excitement. Downing took it in stride, incorporating the conditions in his winning strategy.
The deadline to register online for the annual “10K to the Bay” Spit Run has passed, but registration can still be done before the event begins on Saturday.
The run will take place at 10 a.m. It begins at the Homer High School and ends at Land’s End Resort.
Registration on the day of the event is from 8-9:30 a.m. Entry fee is $10 for 17 years and under, $15 for over 17 and $25 for a family registration. Proceeds benefit local youth running programs.
In Homer’s version of the America’s Cup, the Homer Yacht Club-Land’s End Regatta is this weekend, with boats of all lengths, captains of varied experience and crews eager for some adventure welcome to accept the challenge.
Carlin Rauch, the club’s commodore and captain of the Martha J, has no idea how many boats will compete in the race, but is hoping to see at least a dozen cross the start and finish line off the end of the Homer Spit.
Few Homer and Anchor Point youth have been charged by a brown bear, but that’s something 12 middle and high school Girl Scouts recently experienced as they ventured across Cook Inlet to explore and understand Alaska wilderness. Despite the shock and eye-opening experience, however, the young women seem excited to continue learning about environmental issues and preparing for their next outdoor adventure.
The Great Alaska Horse Expo, begun last summer by former Anchor Point resident Allison Trimble, is making a return appearance at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik this weekend.
Trimble and returning instructors Kimberly Barber and Kade Mills will teach the courses.
Barber is from Blaine, Wash., and began riding at the age of 5 as a member of the United States Pony Club. Mills is form Alberta, Canada, and has trained in Canada, Europe and the United States.