Photo: Sadie Youngstrom
Trip Number: 13015A
Staff: Holly Wenger
- Assist rangers in removing non-native plants
- Hike into beautiful Kenai Peninsula work area
- Enjoy a full-day boat tour of Kenai Fjords after project
- Transportation to and from project area
- Tasty meals and snacks
- Camping fees and Kenai Fjords tour
Come venture with us into the Chugach National Forest. At 5.4 million acres,
it is the second largest single national forest in the United States. Due to
its enormous size, it encompasses a wide variety of terrain and ecosystems,
from saltwater coastlines to soaring peaks and from austere glaciers to lakes
and rivers teeming with fish. People living in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city,
have a portion of the Chugach right in their backyards, yet it is one of the
least roaded forests of all, at less than 2%. The stunning expanse of the Chugach
was established as a national forest by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.
Forest Service personnel will pick us up in Anchorage and we will all go shopping,
following a list to pick up our food supplies for the week. Then it's on down
the highway toward Portage Valley. The spectacular drive takes us past birding
hotspots, along the shore of Cook Inlet with its Beluga whales, and past high
peaks where travelers can often spot nearby Dall's sheep and bald eagles. We
will camp in a lovely campground near a rushing creek where we can walk to views
of glaciers. After our first breakfast together we will go to the newly refurbished
Begitch-Boggs Visitor's Center for orientation, and to peruse the fine displays
and information. The visitor's center sits at the edge of Portage Lake, formed
by the well-known Portage Glacier, which calves icebergs into the lake all summer.
Our project will place us in a popular area for summer hiking and fishing,
for fall hunting, and for winter ski, sled, and snowmobile outings, yet on any
given day one is not likely to meet very many other people out on the trail.
Our exact work location will not be known until we arrive for our project, but
it could place us along the Resurrection Pass Trail, which runs from Hope, Alaska,
along Cook Inlet, up and over stunning mountains to connect with the Sterling
Highway near Copper Landing. Along this trail there is a string of public use
cabins that hikers can reserve, making this trail a wonderful outing area --
and bringing in invasive plants!
Our days will be spent hard at work with our ranger-guides, but our evenings
can include pleasant walks for scenery and wildlife viewing, or just relaxing
with a good book, listening to the sounds of nature around us. In this area
of Alaska the sun will not set until late during June! Sleeping in our tents,
breathing the fresh Alaska air, will rejuvenate us nightly.
Photo: Amber Lehning
We will be spending
several days working hard with Chugach National Forest rangers on their on-going
project to remove invasive, non-native plants from areas near trails and public
use cabins. This work has been an important on-going project for Alaskan hikers
for a number of years, and groups like the Sierra Club can add much appreciated
help. We will be trained in safety and tool use before hiking into the work
area. During the week we may be asked to pitch in with a variety of tasks as
needed by our ranger hosts.
Day 1: We will be picked up in Anchorage on June 16. After
the group helps in grocery shopping, we travel a scenic highway -- with the
possibility of viewing Dall's sheep and Beluga whales -- to our campground in
the Portage Creek valley. We will have free time in the evening to walk on trails
and view the creek and nearby glaciers.
Day 2: We pack up and eat breakfast, then proceed to the Begitch-Boggs
Visitor's Center at Portage Glacier for our orientation to the project, with
time to enjoy the center's displays. Then it's on to the trailhead and an approximately
seven-mile backpack into our work area.
Days 3-5: These are full work days. Although the project aim
is non-native weed eradication, it is possible that the rangers will need our
help with other tasks, so we will remain open to any work needs that they have
for us. We may be hiking to and from various sites close to our base camp each
day, and these trails could be steep or wet. Evenings will include free time
to do some exploring near camp, and possibly fishing.
Day 6: We will be prepared to do any morning work needed,
then hike back out of the area. We will take a van ride to Seward, where we
will set up camp in a busy urban campground at the edge of town, with hot showers
available. Dinner will be in a local restaurant and we have the evening to explore
a bit of this quaint town.
Day 7: After a breakfast either in our campsite or at a nearby
cafe, we will take the classic boat tour through Kenai Fjords National Park,
on the lookout for whales, sea birds, and seals. We visit several tidewater
glaciers. This day-long tour -- already included in the trip price -- is professionally
guided with interpretive talks by ranger-naturalists and includes lunch and
snacks. After the boat tour, we will reconnect with our bus and ride back to
Anchorage, arriving late evening. Dinner will either be at a stop along the
drive or in Anchorage, depending on group preference.
Photo: Amber Lehning
It is recommended that participants arrive in Anchorage at least one day before
our outing, or more if you have the time (the trip leader will provide you with
an extensive list of possible sights to visit in Anchorage before or after our
trip). There will be a pre-trip meeting at 2:00 p.m. June 15 to go over our
week's itinerary, and do a gear check. We also hope to arrange a meet-up at
the Anchorage office of the Sierra Club on June 15 to hear about Alaska conservation
issues from local members. There will be an optional no-host dinner gathering
on June 15 at one of the leader's favorite restaurants in Anchorage.
We will provide you with a pick-up site and time where we will all gather on
June 16 to begin the official outing. Forest Service personnel will provide
our transportation to the Portage Creek area on June 16, and to the trailhead
on June 17. They will transport us to Seward on June 21. After our Kenai Fjords
boat tour out of Seward, we will take a private shuttle back to Anchorage.
Participants should plan to make their own reservations for accommodations
for the night of June 22 in Anchorage, as our return will be in the late evening.
Many airlines have very late flights out of Anchorage, so it is possible that
some people could depart June 22. Others may depart June 23, or stay on to visit
other parts of Alaska. The trip leader will have many suggestions for you and
can help you in planning additional Alaska activities, including staying in
the Seward area prior to your return to Anchorage.
Accommodations and Food
We will be camping in a forest service campground the first night (no showers),
at our work site near a public use cabin the next three nights (no showers and
just our group), and at an urban campground with hot showers the last night
(includes RV's, lots of people).
On day 1 we will camp in an established campground in the lovely Portage Valley,
and day 6 we camp right in the town of Seward, at a busy urban campground with
hot showers and a fabulous ocean view. On days 2-5 we will sleep in our tents
near a public use cabin in a remote setting, using the cabin for food storage
All meals and snacks from lunch on June 163 through dinner on June 22 are covered
in the trip cost. After our first dinner and breakfast in a campground, we will
be heading out on backpack, hence our meals will be light-weight, packable -
and tasty! You will be working hard each day, so this trip is designed to have
one or the other of the leaders be the day's cook while we are in the project
area, though folks with extra energy are always welcome to help out!
Photo: Sadie Youngstrom
The trip is rated as Moderate, 3, and is open to any adult who is fit and
able enough to do outdoor physical work of an easy to moderate nature. Participants
must be able to backpack 6-7 miles into the work site with all their own gear,
including clothes, sleeping bag, pad and tent, plus a portion of group food
and kitchen equipment. Depending on trail conditions and ranger needs, our work
days may begin with hikes up trails that could be steep or wet, though we need
only carry a day pack. On Friday we will retrace our backpack out of the area.
As with any outdoor activity, you will enjoy the trip more if you participate
in a regular exercise program and arrive in fit condition.
Equipment and Clothing
Each participant will provide his/her own rain-worthy tent, synthetic sleeping
bag, pad, eating dishes and utensils, and sturdy hiking/work boots. You will
need a good set of rain gear, layers of clothing appropriate for varied conditions,
and a backpack with enough volume capacity to carry approximately 10 pounds
of group food and gear in addition to your own equipment. Your pack should have
a hydration system or a pocket for a water bottle within easy reach. We will
be provided with work tools and gloves or eye protection as needed for our service
work. A detailed equipment list will be sent to all approved participants.
- Chugach National Forest: http://www.fs.usda.gov/chugach/
- Resurrection Pass Trail: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aktrails/ats/ken/resurnrth.htm
- Begitch-Boggs Visitor Center: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/chugach/home/?cid=stelprdb5251094
- McPhee, John, Coming Into the Country.
- Mitchener, James A., Alaska.
- Muir, John, Travels in Alaska.
- Romans-Lax & Sherwonit, Alaska's Kenai Peninsula: A Traveler's Guide.
- Pitcher, Don, Moon Spotlight: Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.
- USGS maps, Seward B-8 and Seward C-8 (but exact trip area could change)
As is the case in many state and national forests and parks, non-native plant
species have been imported either purposefully or by accident via human and
animal visitors. To help these areas maintain a healthy environment and natural
habitat for endemic species, we can contribute by removing the often fast-spreading
invasive plants. When invasives take over, natural food sources for local animal
species are often diminished, affecting the entire food chain. Our rangers will
provide a great education on the issue while we work, or as we relax over our
When we visit the Anchorage Sierra Club office prior to our trip, we will find
out the very latest information about conservation issues in the area and what
is being done by local organizations. We can expect to discuss coal mining proposals
in the nearby Matanuska Valley and the intense pressure to drill for oil just
offshore in the Arctic Ocean, and how these Alaska issues tie in with national
Sierra Club goals of moving beyond coal and oil. We will examine an issue of
enormous interest in Alaska, the ongoing fight to protect one of the planet's
richest fisheries, Bristol Bay, from the impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine,
a gigantic gold mine proposed for the Alaska peninsula by a Canadian company.
Climate change is a topic on everyone's mind, and the effects of rising sea
levels, warming of oceans, glacier retreat, and thawing of Arctic tundra, among
others, are especially noticeable in Alaska. We will have many opportunities
to discuss these Alaska issues, and we also hope that participants will wish
to share issues of importance from their home areas.
Travel in Alaska and the Arctic
Sierra Club outings in Alaska and Arctic Canada are special experiences in true wilderness, but they also carry an element of risk. Trip locales are often remote, away from the amenities of civilization, including sophisticated medical care and immediate evacuation possibilities. Many of our Alaska and Arctic Canada trips now carry satellite phones, but even with this technology, communication with the outside world can be difficult and emergency assistance can be days away. Weather in Alaska and Arctic Canada is unpredictable, and inclement weather can be severe. Among other hazards are cold river and stream crossings, tidal activity, calving glaciers, the psychological effects of remoteness, and the presence of large wild animals. You're in good hands, though, so don't worry: Your trip leaders have vast experience in the Last Frontier, and they'll provide all the guidance you need.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Holly Wenger has spent a portion of each summer over the past decade leading Sierra Club trips in Alaska or the Yukon, and has hiked, paddled, and otherwise explored even more of these amazing areas on her own. She considers it to be a privilege to offer service in the Chugach National Forest. As an avid gardener, Holly is interested in examining the roles of native vs. non-native plant species in a forest setting, and the impact human activities have on plant communities. If she is not out traveling the US or the world, you can reach Holly at the following email address.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips