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trail conditions? ski conditions? Answers are here!

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I get asked many questions about trail conditions.  I have explored many apps to help make the trail conditions more easily available.  However, the #1 place that I would recommend you exploring if you want to know is the Alaska Outdoor Reports.  It is super easy to put in your own report of the trail conditions.  The groomers for skiing use it exclusively.  It has little icons for skiing, hiking, kayaking, skating, and biking.

Since I live in Palmer, I have bookmarked and make the Mat-Su ski club a simple app on my phone by following these simple instructions.  That makes it super easy to see the weather and the trail conditions in one click on an icon on my iphone.


Happy winter exploring everyone!

Don't have a cabin in the woods? Rent one!

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Don't own a cabin in the Woods?  You don't have to.  Why not share one by renting one of these amazing facilities!  I heard about the Manitoba huts on a podcast this summer and thinking this would be a fun way to get outside a different way this winter.  https://www.alaskahuts.org/manitoba-photos/ You could even stay in a YURT!

James and I throughly enjoyed our anniversary get-away last December 2015 in a sweet cabin called Dale Clemens near Seward, AK. The hike in was the bonus for us.  We didn't need to haul any wood because it come completely stocked with propane for the heater!  The silence was special and the heavy snow delightful.

Note they Recreation.gov reserves cabins 180 days in advance.  The best time to book for Summer outings is in the winter.

The State of Alaska has a variety of cabins for rent. We have enjoyed the Nancy Lake cabins.   http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/cabins/anch#&panel1-1



Sensational Snowshoeing!

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As a mom of four boys, there was a season of parenthood when the ages of my boys made it difficult to get outside and be active together as a family. My husband and I both enjoyed backcountry skiing pre-kids, but limited budget prohibited us from introducing all our boys to the sport. We thought, "how about XC skiing?" I imagined wonderful afternoons that looked like this...    


What we ended up with was this...  

We found that our youngest two just could not follow where the rest of the family wanted to explore. Weekend outings ended with frustrated kiddos in a tangle of skis and poles. Now I am not saying that introducing kids to Nordic skiing at a young age is not doable. The MatSu Ski Club Jr Nordics is a fabulous program to get your kids on the trail and learning xc ski techniques from teachers who know how to ski well. http://www.matsuski.org/junior-nordicsBut for our family, we were wanting a more backcountry experience and we were blazing our own trails, usually up in …

Retreat Connect Refresh

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Often our lives are full.  Full of trials, pain, and just business. This was also the surroundings in Jesus life 2000+ years ago.  We hear of his days full of just that.  However, I find it inspiring how he spent time away from the crowds and went to the MOUNTAINS to connect to God.


1) Retreat:  Being a wife/mother/pastor's wife, my home is often the source of wonderful joys and sorrows.  I am available to everyone at all times.  I also see all the "necessary" projects that loom over my head like Eyores' black cloud.  It is there.  However, when I go to the hills or anywhere in nature, my distractions are lessoned DRASTICILY.  I can be in the world God created for me to enjoy.  It gives me time to listen.

2) Connect:  Prayer is often the pouring out to God. But, just like a marriage relationship, if only one person is talking it would be an unhealthy relationship.  When I take the time to reflect and listen to God, I get His perspectives and His heart.  Out on a tra…

HIKING is not over!

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MUST HAVE and Secret Advantages
It was a strange day at my son's new friend birthday party that I talked with Natalie.  Being "new" to Alaska after 10 years in Africa, this pivotal conversation changed my hiking world forever.

I can't remember how we got to the topic of hiking & trail running, but we did. I think I was complaining about the slippery trails.  She introduced me to my best friend, the MICROSPIKES.  
Microspikes allow you to extending hiking all year round.  They are essential if you love to get outside with terrible trail conditions.  They provide the traction for icy trails to slick muddy trails. They allow me to even RUN down the mountains with less fear of falling.  I am more confident with them on in the winter than my rugged trail shoes in the summer when the trails are dry. 
The two that I have experience with is Kahtoola microspikes and Hillsound trail crampon.  I personally had some issues with Kahtoolas slipping and needing to readjust whi…

Gear Swap Info Round Up

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As the weather continues to grow colder it's time to think about gearing up to THRIVE OUTSIDE in the snow! Some of you may already be set up to enjoy downhill, backcountry or XC skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, ice climbing, or sledding. But for those of you who are looking to replace worn out gear or are venturing into a new winter sport a "gear swap" can be the perfect place to find good deals on what you need. Swaps are not limited to just skis, boots, and poles, you'll also find used winter clothing.

    Most swaps are run on a consignment basis and some resemble a giant garage sale where individuals are responsible for their own items. Payment option usually include cash or credit card. You will definitely want to arrive early and stand in line to get in as the sales are first come first serve. Read the swap info thoroughly as some swaps offer early entrance for a fee.

   Late Fall early winter is historically when swaps have been happening in the Valley and Anch…

Wasilla Creek Wetland Trails

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After viewing some stunning photos on Facebook, I was eager to get to this newly opened trail. This is a short kid friendly trail that can handle a small stroller.

However, after coming home and looking again at the map, we only captured the one part of the trail.  It has not been connected to the other phase that is nearer the school.  (it still is not connected) 

There is no signs but, if you go to the 4800 E Nelson Rd, Wasilla, AK 99654 or click on the google map it will give you directions (thanks Google).  However, it is right past the Wasilla Creek and take an immediate left to a small parking lot.

Once you find that place (hardest part), you walk towards the woods at about 1:00 is the trail head.  I was on it and it was perfect but short.  At the end of the wooden boardwalk, I ventured with my friends a little farther, but all the trails seem to disappear quickly into a marsh.  



After calling the foundation Great Land Trust that made this trail possible, I found out that the co…

"Winterize" Your Gear

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BLADDERS, BOOTS, BAGS & MORE...
The snow is creeping down and as the non-snowy hiking season begins to wind down (whimper) it is time to begin thinking about winterizing your summer hiking gear and reorganizing your backpack for winter use.

Water Bladders:    Let's start out with your hydration reservoirs. I love my Osprey 2L pouch with its reflective outer shell that helps keep the water inside cool. I have owned it for 5 years and have never "cleaned" it. Whenever I am not using the reservoir I toss it in the freezer. Yep, the freezer! The cold inhibits any bacteria or mold from growing. Before I put it in the freezer I make sure all the water is out of the tube so that when I refill it later I can get water out again without waiting for ice to melt. Many websites discuss the importance of thoroughly drying your hydration pouch after use or washing, but by freezing it you don't need to worry about this step.
Here is a link to a site that give great ideas on how …

Matanuska Peak, One Mountain many approaches...

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Matanuska Peak aka Byers Peak
The fair brings hordes of people to Palmer, but it also brings a temporary job with the amazing Alaska Chicks.  Seeing the beautiful weather (best in years), made my hiking feet cry for the mountains that call for me.  However, we had set September 10th for the ascent.

Like other large mountains, this one has rewards all the way you climb it.  On the day we hiked, we saw people with toddlers who didn't summit, but enjoyed the tundra meadow!

My husband is a fair weather hiker, and thankfully it was a STUNNING day.  We got a later start instead of 7am, we launched at 9 am.

Many Routes to the same Peak.

1)  McRoberts Creeks approach
Trailhead:  Smith Road

2) Matanuska Peak Trail
Trailhead: Smith Road but after

3) Summit Lazy then go down the backside of Lazy toward the valley and connect with the Mat Peak trail. (Matanuska Peak Race)
Trailhead:  Huntley Road Lazy Mountain Trailhead

4) Lazy-Matanuska Peak Connector Trail : Summit Lazy and follow the rid…

Fabulous Fall "Fotos"!

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Well folks summer is over, time to put away the sprinkler and pack away the swimsuits until we are ready to reveal our pasty bodies next spring. :o)

Although there are a few of us devoted Chaco wearers who are still stubbornly refusing to stifle our toes!

And soon we will get to start enjoying THIS...

But for now Fall is in full swing and who doesn't love getting out on those Blue Bird days and trying to snap a pic of our beloved Pioneer Peak as the snow creeps down.
One of the pleasures of Fall is the glorious colors around us and for some us we love to attempt to capture those moments with our camera or smartphone. Here is a round up of some websites that offer great ideas for composing and shooting photos with your camera and a few sites that offer tips for using your iPhone.
For camera - http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2011/10/5-tips-better-fall-foliage-photos
http://content.photojojo.com/photojojo-original/fall-photo-tips/
For iPhone  -  http://iphonephotographyschool.com/leaves…

FALL HIKING!

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A few tips for keep your Fall hiking at it's maximum enjoyment! BY JULIE MILLER

1. LAYERS! - It is that time of year where I want the heat on in the house in the morning and the windows open in the afternoon. That same idea applies to your hiking clothing. Our temps this time of year can swing a good 20-30 degrees. Keep in mind that elevation also effects temperatures, higher means colder. Rain gear is a must.
2. Be mindful of hunters - For sportsmen Fall is the most anticipated time of the year. Moose season is in full swing and hikers should take precautions. Wear bright colored clothing so that you are visible. If you happen upon hunters be sure they are aware of your presence. If you hear gunshots, judge the distance, keep your eyes open, and remain visible.
3. Shorter daylight - Toss a headlamp into your pack just incase you're out a wee bit later than you planned. 
4. Trust your gut - If the weather turns on you 1/2 way through a hike there is NO shame in turning around. Nev…

Hikes...based on wind and weather

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Okay, three weeks of rain and a few 40 mph windy days.  Is it that miserable everywhere?  Actually, we live in a huge state.  I am blessed to live in Palmer between two large rivers (Knik and Matanuska) that are fed by huge glaciers and two major mountain ranges (Chugach and Talkeetna).  The cool thing about living among the mountains is that the weather can be quite different just a few miles away.   I am going to explain how to use Weather Underground to find out where it is not windy and where the current temperatures are more desirable.
Weather Underground is a sweet webpage and free app that I can use on my desktop or cell phone.  I have even arranged our hiking guide to be in distinct  areas so you can easily see the conditions (towards Hatcher Pass, Butte, Anchorage)
Now, as I have encouraged you in the past, regardless of the weather, Thrive Outside.  However, sometimes I do want to get away from the wind.  I love the Weather Underground webpage and mobile app to find a place…