Trip Number: 13017A
Staff: Rebecca Dameron
- Spend a week in Alaska's beautiful Resurrection
- Contribute to wilderness exploring by painting Public Use Cabins in
Caines Head Park
- Enjoy a wildlife and glacier tour in Kenai Fjords National Park
- Bus shuttle between Seward and Anchorage
- Transport between Seward and the public use cabin
- All vegetarian-friendly meals
Photo: Rebecca Dameron
Imagine the view of the North Pacific from a 650-foot-high headland. This will
be our view on one of our late-afternoon hikes in the Caines Head State Recreation
Area in Resurrection Bay. The Bay is on the Kenai Peninsula of southern Alaska
and was named for Alexandr Baranov, the first governor of Russian Alaska. A
merchant sailor, Baranov used the bay as a refuge during a dangerous storm in
the late 1700s. The storm ended on Easter Sunday and so the bay was renamed
Resurrection Bay. Seward, the main settlement in the bay, was founded in 1903
as the terminus of the Alaska Railway. It is one of the oldest communities in
Alaska and is one of the only ice-free ports in Alaska with various ways of
transportation into the interior.
Because of the strategic location of Caines Head, Fort McGilvray was built
there during WWII (1941) to defend against a possible invasion by the Imperial
Japanese Army. Due to other successful campaigns on the Aleutian Islands, the
fort was considered no longer needed and was dismantled in 1944. The fort and
the South Beach Garrison are now popular sites for explorers. We’ll take
our headlamps and do some exploring ourselves in the evenings.
The 6,000 acres of the Caines Head State Recreation Area can be reached by
boat and by trail (depending on the tides). There are public use cabins, the
fort, a beach garrison and about 12 miles of trails with spectacular views of
the bay, snow-capped mountains, beaches, spruce forests and the Pacific Ocean.
This will be our home for the week while we assist the rangers of the Alaska
State Park system in maintenance work on the cabins.
Photo: Rebecca Dameron
Our project for the week will be staining the outside of the public use cabins
in the Recreation Area. The Alaska State Park rangers are excited for us to
get to this project, and possibly others as time permits. We plan to camp
outside the cabin and keep our food supplies and gear inside. While not quite
in the rough wilderness, we will still be in a secluded area, camp wilderness
style, and follow Leave No Trace principles.
The trip starts in Anchorage early on the morning of Sunday, June 23rd (after
breakfast on your own) and ends back in Anchorage on the evening of June 29th.
You should plan on arriving in Anchorage two days early to allow for flight
and baggage delays. There will be a pre-trip meeting at 11 a.m. on Saturday,
June 22nd. This is a good opportunity to meet the other trip participants and
to solve any last-minute equipment challenges.
Day 1: We will depart early Sunday morning from Anchorage
and travel by bus to Seward (lunch on the way). The 125-mile trip will offer
wonderful sites, including Cook Inlet, the Kenai Mountains, the ghost trees
of Girdwood (left by the 1964 earthquake) and possibly Dall sheep or bears.
We’ll meet a ranger in Seward and then take water shuttles to our camping
area. We’ll have time to set up camp and enjoy our setting, and perhaps
get started on our project.
Days 2-5: Our exact itinerary for the trip will be determined
by our service project and weather conditions. Our plan is to work every day
and have the evenings off for hikes and exploration of the fort.
Photo: Rebecca Dameron
Day 6: This will be our last work day and we’ll wrap
up whatever is unfinished. The rangers will shuttle us back to Seward where
we’ll have the opportunity for a hot shower and a meal out (be prepared
to share taxi fare). We plan to camp at the Waterfront Campground that night.
Day 7: We’ll get up early to take a six-hour Kenai Fjords
water tour for a chance to see whales, other marine life, glaciers and more.
The tour and lunch are included in the trip price. Then it’s back to Anchorage
on the bus where we’ll have a post-trip dinner together if travel arrangements
When you are approved for the trip and the leader informs you the trip has filled
sufficiently to run, you may make your airline reservations to Anchorage and
start thinking about accommodations there. We'll let you know about possible
hotels, bed and breakfasts, or hostels after you sign up. You should try to
arrive in Anchorage by June 21 if possible and no later than the afternoon of
June 22. You may schedule your departure for as early as June 30 or stay on
in this magnificent state for other activities.
Accommodations and Food
We’ll be camping at Caines Head Recreation Area near our work sites.
A cabin will be available for storing our supplies and extra gear. There’s
also a latrine! We’ll get our water from nearby creeks (from the snow
pack) and cook our hearty meals over camp stoves. All participants will be asked
to help with food prep and clean up.
Photo: Rebecca Dameron
During our off time, we’ll be able to hike some of the gorgeous trails
around the Caines Head area and possibly do some beachcombing. We’ll always
hike as a group due to possible bear encounters, plus it’s more fun that
way. We’ll also be able to explore the fort (with headlamps).
Sierra Club trips are designed to be a group experience, so expect to participate
on a regular basis in meal preparation and clean-up. Meals will be hearty, sustaining,
and generally vegetarian. We will work with you to accommodate specific dietary
requirements as much as possible given our wilderness setting. However, any
dietary restrictions must be discussed in detail with the leader well in advance
of the trip. The first trip meal will be lunch on the way to Seward. The last
meal will be lunch on our Fjords water tour. We'll also plan a final no-host
dinner at an Anchorage restaurant for the evening we return.
The work on this trip can be considered moderate -- the hiking may include
some strenuous stretches (mainly due to steepness). No one is expected to exceed
his/her capabilities. The participants will be asked by the State Rangers to
sign an additional liability waiver for activities undertaken during the outing.
Temperatures are mild due to maritime influences. During summer months temperatures
range from 40° to 70°, so be prepared for any kind of weather as Resurrection
Bay is subject to severe and unpredictable weather. Come with good rain gear
and warm layers.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Rebecca Dameron
Even though we’ll be close to the cabins, we will be camping out every
night. You will need to bring your own tent, sleeping bag, and pad. It is essential
that your tent be waterproof. Extended periods of rain are possible, and staying
dry can become a serious safety issue. Suggested rain gear is jacket and pants
(coated nylon or Helly Hansen type) versus a poncho.
Detailed lists of recommended clothing and equipment will be sent to participants
after they register for the trip. Most of this is similar to what you would
use on a backpacking trip. Personal equipment should be thoroughly field-tested
before the trip.
- Chandonnet, Fern (2007). Alaska at War, 1941-1945: The Forgotten War
Remembered. University of Alaska Press. http://books.google.com/books?id=p01bFVagOJYC&dq=Fort+McGilvray&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- Caines Head Recreation Area: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/caineshd.htm
- Sierra Club’s Alaska Action Alerts: http://alaska.sierraclub.org/actions/index.html
- Anchorage Tourism Information: http://www.anchorage.net/
Photo: Rebecca Dameron
As a frontier, Alaska has been known for its beauty and wildlife: it’s
also known for its untapped energy reserves. The Sierra Club has long opposed
the prospect of drilling for oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. This
struggle continues as another struggle has arisen for drilling in the Arctic
Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. There
are concerns near Fairbanks about coal ash pollution and a fight to protect
Bristol Bay and salmon from the proposed Pebble Mine (gold and copper mining).
There are also concerns about preserving native, or "traditional,"
lands and culture. So what does this have to do with us who are traveling in
south-central Alaska? Everything -- if we use oil, coal, and gold. It is ironic
that we will be using oil/fuel to be on this trip, but we need to see what is
in need of protection and be encouraged to work harder and smarter to save this
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.
Rebecca Dameron, trip leader, began her sea kayaking experience on a Sierra Club trip to Alaska in 2006 and was hooked. Since then she has kayaked in the Everglades and elsewhere in Florida, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Iceland, Chile, New Zealand, Scotland, and Greenland. She is particularly enthusiastic when her trips include service. Rebecca is trained as a Wilderness EMT and hopes not to use her skills! When she is not out kayaking, hiking or volunteering you can reach Rebecca at the following email address.
Holly Wenger has had the privilege of leading a variety of national outings since 2002, from the Everglades of Florida to Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. At home in Sacramento, CA she leads local canoe and kayak trips, and teaches canoeing for the American Red Cross. Holly is still amazed by the beauty of wilderness on every trip, and by the cohesion each group forges as they experience new surroundings.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips