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Showing posts from 2021

Barbara Falls (Spectacular in Any Season)

The hike to Barbara Falls (also known as South Fork Falls*) can be done in any season. The frozen winter (silent) falls can be as spectacular as the noisy summer falls. There are several ways to get to this 60 foot beauty in Eagle River, Alaska. The easiest and shortest way is to drive to the gate at the bottom of Ken Logan Circle. Then walk about a half-mile on old roads from the end of Ken Logan Circle (in a neighborhood off Hiland Road.)   Please respect private property. Depending on your route to the falls, you may be walking in a right-of-way  on or near private property. Short Route:  Take the Glenn Highway about 10 miles north to Eagle River Loop and exit toward the mountains. Turn right at the first light onto Hiland Road. Continue uphill about 3.3 miles and turn left onto River View Drive into a neighborhood. Veer left as it becomes Waterfall Drive, then follow until it dead-ends into River Park Drive. Continue right to Ken Logan Circle. Most of the circle is signed off-lim

Hike to "The Perch" (Winter)

Here's a lovely winter hike... Why I Like This Hike:   This section of the Historic Iditarod Trail starts from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) and makes for a splendid hike any time of  year especially in the winter after a fresh snowfall. The well-established trail is truly an all-season hike with potential for wildlife viewing and doable for all skill levels. Background : The Historic Iditarod (aka Crow Pass) Trail which spans the Girdwood Valley to Eagle River is considered one of the best trails to hike in the Chugach mountain range because it offers such diversity including glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife. Not only a great hiking/backpacking route, it's also an historic portion of the Iditarod Trail that led from Seward to mines in the Interior. A bit of trivia not known by many is that this trail was rebuilt in the 1970s with girl scout labor. Moose on trail near ERNC How to Get There:   For driving directions to the trailhead at the ERNC go to the   E

Lower Eagle River or River Woods Trail (All Season Hike)

The Lower Eagle River trail (also called the River Woods Trail) runs along the Eagle River in Chugach State Park and it's just minutes from downtown Eagle River. Why I Like This Hike:  This is truly an all-season trail that can be hiked all times of the year including winter.  It's an easy walk that offers convenient access with intermittent views of surrounding mountains and opportunity for wildlife viewing. Due to the flat terrain and accessibility, it's a pleasant hike in any season and suitable for all skill levels including kids and elderly. Note: during the winter months temperatures along this river trail can be 10 to 15 degrees colder so dress accordingly. How to Get There: The trailhead can be accessed from the south side of the Briggs Bridge off the Eagle River Loop Road where there is pubic parking and a boat launch. Google Maps - Briggs Bridge Access The Nitty-Gritty:  From the Briggs Bridge access, the lower Eagle River trail goes east through birch and spruce

Easy Moose Sausage Recipe

For all the successful moose hunters out there, here is the easiest homemade sausage recipe I have tried. It's very tasty and easy to make.  It also makes a great snack on the trail. Easiest Moose Sausage Recipe 1 pound ground pork (or pork sausage) 4 pounds ground moose (or venison, caribou etc.) 1 Tbsp mustard seed 1 tsp liquid smoke 1 tsp garlic powder 2 tsp ground pepper 1 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp cayenne pepper 2 Tbsp brown sugar 1/2 tsp onion powder 2-1/2 Tbsp Morton Tender Quick 1 cup cold water 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (optional) 3-5 slices of jalapeno (optional) Directions: Mix all ingredients well in a glass mixing bowl. Put in refrigerator for 3-5 days to cure (depending on how much you want the meat to cure.) Mix every day. On the final curing day (3rd to 5th) day divide meat into 5 equal portions and roll each into a cylinder. Then wrap each roll in aluminum foil, ensuring that the foil’s shiny side faces inward. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

The Canadian Papers - "Smoke and Mirrors?"

Canadian hypothetical risk assessments have been and are being used as a basis for banning pack llamas on public lands by various government agencies. Do they "pass muster" and are they based on science? Let's take a closer look. It was stated during the August 5, 2021 BLM Virtual Meeting by BLM biologist (Jim Herriges) that BLM’s decision to prohibit pack llamas is based on Canadian hypothetical “Risk Assessments.”  I’d like to point out that the authors of these Canadian papers state (1) “…there is insufficient data available to clearly assess the role of camelids as a source of disease at this time…..” and (2) “Risks from camelids to wildlife in British Columbia remain hypothetical after this risk assessment, as no direct evidence was found to implicate camelids as sources of significant diseases in wildlife in BC or elsewhere.”  So by their own admission, the authors conclude camelid disease transmission is hypothetical and based on conjecture (not science) Furthermor

Eagle and Symphony Lakes Loop

Why Do This Hike: This colorful fall hike through the South Fork Valley and into Ship Creek offers stunning views of alpine lakes (Eagle and Symphony), tarns and valleys surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains. During September and early October (until the first snowfall) you will have the added bonus of vibrant fall colors.  How to Get Ttere: To get started, take the well established trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes which starts from the South Fork trailhead parking lot. (This section can usually be hiked in October and well into winter depending on snow conditions.) For directions and details on the hike to Eagle & Symphony Lakes go here:  Hike to Eagle-symphony-lakes The Nitty-Gritty: Once you have arrived at Eagle Lake (second bridge), proceed across the boulder field to the west side of Symphony Lake where there are several camping spots if you decide to camp for the night. To take the Ship Creek loop back, you will need good weather and navigation skills. Don't at

Attention Llama Owners & Supporters - Comments Needed!

The comment period ended August 20, 2021. Check back here for updates.  ***Thanks to all who made comments!*** The Alaska Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing to restrict/prohibit the use of pack llamas in the Eastern Interior Resource Management Area (EI–RMA) based on a perceived disease threat to wild sheep through their Travel Management Plans (TMPs) for the Steese and White Mountain subunits which are currently open for public comment. The TMPs are part of the proposed rule making process that take their direction from a planning document BLM approved in 2016 called the Eastern Interior-Resource Management Plan (EI-RMP). This EI-RMP (planning document) prohibits/restricts pack llamas in the Steese and White Mountains subunits of the BLM-Eastern Interior Management Area based on an unsubstantiated disease threat to wild sheep. Consequently, we are asking for an amendment to the 2016 BLM approved Eastern Interior RMP (planning document) because this will also be necessary to

Hike to Williwaw Lakes and Long Lake

Walrus Lake (Uppermost Williwaw Lake) Overview: The hike to Williwaw Lakes is one of the most beautiful in Alaska's Chugach State Park. This trek which is a short drive from downtown Anchorage, offers a variety of options including day hikes, overnight or multiday adventures so you can make it as easy or difficult as you want. (In the winter, it is also a popular ski trail and can usually be hiked to the lower Williwaw Lake depending on snow conditions.) The trek takes the hiker through alpine tundra amid a variety of alpine flowers, grassy meadows and scrub hemlock. The pristine alpine lakes are situated in a mountainous valley above Anchorage at the base of craggy Mount Williwaw (elev. 5,445 ft.). If you make it to the upper lakes, you will be rewarded with stunning views of surrounding mountains and possible wildlife viewing of dall sheep, moose, coyotes, fox, and various waterfowl. There are plenty of camping opportunities around the Williwaw Lakes (as well as Long Lake if you

Rendezvous Ridge

The Hike:    Rendezvous Ridge  Here's a hike in Chugach State Park (Southcentral Alaska) with spectacular views on a clear day. I prefer to access this hike from the South Fork trailhead although there is also access in Arctic Valley. To get to the South Fork trailhead access, take the Eagle River Loop/Hiland Road exit off the Glenn Highway just past the weigh station. Turn right at the traffic light onto Hiland and continue about eight miles up the road. Take a right onto South Creek and follow it to West River Drive and take another right. The parking lot is on your left. The trail starts from the Eagle and Symphony Lakes trailhead at the Southfork parking lot and traverses the right side of the South Fork valley as you head away from the parking area. (If you veer left on the main trail, it drops down to a bridge that crosses the South Fork of the Eagle River and continues to Eagle and Symphony Lakes at the end of the valley.) Trail Sign Post However to access Rendez

Celebrate Llamas!

“Humming Along With Llamas” A conversation with previous President of GALA and current Llama Promotion Committee Chair, Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt Why is National Llama Appreciation day June 21? Over the centuries the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere has been celebrated as a time of re-uniting with and appreciating the natural world. The summer solstice and the appreciation of llamas is a natural and historical fit. Our summer solstice is the winter solstice in the Andes, ancestral home of our llamas. The Andean June solstice celebration continues today with traditional recognition of the power of the natural world, including attention to llamas. ​ What better symbol to acknowledge our summer solstice than to honor and appreciate llamas, one of the world’s oldest surviving animals. And to recognize the gentle nature of these animals who are often referred to as “old souls” as they seem to understand so much about human nature. More here:   LLAMA APPRECIATION DAY June

Update on Pack Llamas & Public Lands in Alaska

 Here is a brief update on recent events relating to pack llamas on public lands in Alaska. 1) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recent actions (2020-2021): The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages their land holding through Resource Management Areas (RMA's) that periodically draft new planning documents (every 15 or 20 years) called Resource Management Plans (RMP's). These RMP's act as guidance for future rule promulgation. The following RMA's in Alaska have recently proposed to restrict or prohibit pack llamas based on a perceived risk of disease transmission to wildlife. a) The Bering Sea - Western Interior RMP (BLM BSWI RMP) in early February 2021 became final. Because the llama community was actively involved during the prescribed open public comment period relating to this decision, the outcome was favorable for us. The final language in the RMP reads as follows: "To minimize the potential for disease transmission to wildlife, applications for the use of pac

BLM's Central Yukon Draft RMP/EIS

Attention all camelid owners and friends!  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Central Yukon Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) & Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is currently open for public comment. The deadline for public comment was extended to June 9, 2021.  BLM Central Yukon At issue is BLM's proposal to hold camelids to a different standard than horses by allowing horses without a permit but requiring a permit for pack llamas in this BLM jurisdiction.   The "good news" is that BLM is not banning llamas in the Central Yukon Management Area. The "not so good news" is that BLM is holding llamas to a different standard than horses . This doesn't make sense because llamas pose no more disease risk (and less environmental impact) than horses and other traditional pack stock such as mules. The specific language we are objecting is as follows.  Maintain effective separation between domestic animals and Dall sheep (Wild Sheep Working Group 2012; cons

The American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners (AASRP) issues policy statement that opposes banning camelid pack animals on public lands

The American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners (AASRP), issued the following policy statement in February 2020. This policy statement comes from a professional association of approximately 1000 U.S. practicing, research, and regulatory veterinarians charged with protecting and guarding the health of the domestic and wild species. They understand better than anyone the disease interactions of each species both within and across species lines.  AASRP Policy Statement Concerning Camelid Pack Animal Disease Risk: There exists concern that the entry of camelid pack animals (llamas, alpacas) onto public lands poses a potential risk of disease to resident endangered or threatened ungulate populations including Boreal Caribou, Northern Mountain Caribou, Central Mountain Caribou, Southern Mountain Caribou, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Dall’s Sheep, Stone’s Sheep and Roosevelt Elk. The diseases of concern by National Parks and wildlife managers include: Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, Mannh