An Outdoor View: The perils of watching

Editor’s note: The Clarion previously published this column on March 4, 2005. What is the world coming to? More and more, I see examples of… Continue reading

An Outdoor View: Campfires

While talking with one of my grandsons recently, he mentioned having a bonfire on a Puget Sound beach. He said that the beach had fire… Continue reading

This undated photo shows Golden Bantam corn in New Paltz, N.Y. Golden Bantam is a delectable, heirloom variety of corn from which you can save seeds for sharing and for planting in years to come — as long it is grown in isolation from other varieties of corn. (Lee Reich via AP)

Plant some history in your garden with heirloom plants

You’re rummaging in the attic, in great grandma’s steamer trunk, and you come upon a dusty old packet of garden balsam seeds. An heirloom! This… Continue reading

This undated photo shows Golden Bantam corn in New Paltz, N.Y. Golden Bantam is a delectable, heirloom variety of corn from which you can save seeds for sharing and for planting in years to come — as long it is grown in isolation from other varieties of corn. (Lee Reich via AP)
A Dawn Redwood grows in Homer. Until it was rediscovered in China in 1943, this species was only known from fossil records. (Photo Paula Riley)

Refuge Notebook: Surprising trees grow on the Kenai Peninsula

Last June, I was enjoying the sun while listening to music at the Kenai River Festival. If I hadn’t been sitting (and it had nothing… Continue reading

A Dawn Redwood grows in Homer. Until it was rediscovered in China in 1943, this species was only known from fossil records. (Photo Paula Riley)
In this December 2016 photo, the sun peeks through the trees on the Tsalteshi Trails system near Soldotna, Alaska. The Tsalteshi Trails Association has applied to the Kenai Peninsula Borough for a Community Trails Management Agreement to expand the popular trail system to the south, providing a space for non-skiers to enjoy the trails in the winter. (Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Tsalteshi applies to expand trail system

More trails may be coming soon to the Tsalteshi Trails system. The nonprofit Tsalteshi Trails Association, which maintains about 25 kilometers of trails in a… Continue reading

In this December 2016 photo, the sun peeks through the trees on the Tsalteshi Trails system near Soldotna, Alaska. The Tsalteshi Trails Association has applied to the Kenai Peninsula Borough for a Community Trails Management Agreement to expand the popular trail system to the south, providing a space for non-skiers to enjoy the trails in the winter. (Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

An Outdoor View: Distractions

While mindlessly surfing the Net the other day, I got to thinking about distractions. According to Macmillan Dictionary, a distraction is “something that gets your… Continue reading

A caribou snacks on a sunny spring day. (Photo by Leah Eskelin/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Spring into Earth Day

It’s spring! I celebrate this fact in the sun warming my back, the drip, drip, drip of water melting off the roof, and the patchwork… Continue reading

A caribou snacks on a sunny spring day. (Photo by Leah Eskelin/USFWS)
Kara Johnston makes her way through a bouldering route on River City Wellness Center’s new climbing wall on Saturday, April 8, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Rock wall offers new ascent for peninsula climbers

Local climbers gained a new foothold on the central peninsula April 8 with the opening of an indoor bouldering wall in Soldotna’s River City Wellness… Continue reading

Kara Johnston makes her way through a bouldering route on River City Wellness Center’s new climbing wall on Saturday, April 8, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska.
Soldotna resident Bruce King, a former fisheries biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, holds a rainbow trout he caught during a trip to Patagonia, Argentina in 2016. The areas he fished boasted trout upwards of 30 inches. (Photo courtesy Bruce King)

Travels, treks and trout

For some avid anglers, even the prolific fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier are sometimes not enough. That was true for Soldotna resident Bruce King,… Continue reading

Soldotna resident Bruce King, a former fisheries biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, holds a rainbow trout he caught during a trip to Patagonia, Argentina in 2016. The areas he fished boasted trout upwards of 30 inches. (Photo courtesy Bruce King)
This undated photo shows edamame harvest in New Paltz, N.Y. Freshly picked, green, young soybeans, known as edamame, are easy to grow and combine the flavors and textures of fresh lima beans and peas. (Lee Reich via AP)  This undated photo shows edamame harvest in New Paltz, N.Y. Freshly picked, green, young soybeans, known as edamame, are easy to grow and combine the flavors and textures of fresh lima beans and peas. (Lee Reich via AP)

Edamame in the garden are flavorful and easy to grow

Move over, tempeh, tofu, miso, soy sauce, soy milk and other processed soy foods. Make way for edamame. This is the soybean in its most… Continue reading

This undated photo shows edamame harvest in New Paltz, N.Y. Freshly picked, green, young soybeans, known as edamame, are easy to grow and combine the flavors and textures of fresh lima beans and peas. (Lee Reich via AP)  This undated photo shows edamame harvest in New Paltz, N.Y. Freshly picked, green, young soybeans, known as edamame, are easy to grow and combine the flavors and textures of fresh lima beans and peas. (Lee Reich via AP)
An American marten with a VHF radio collar was part of graduate research to assess if and why their distribution on the Kenai Peninsula has changed in recent years. (Photo courtesy Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)  An American marten with a VHF radio collar was part of graduate research to assess if and why their distribution on the Kenai Peninsula has changed in recent years. (Photo courtesy Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: American marten on the Kenai are climate change ‘winners’

I skied Resurrection Trail from Hope to Cooper Landing, a fun adventure that I haven’t done in several years. On both trips, I saw lots… Continue reading

An American marten with a VHF radio collar was part of graduate research to assess if and why their distribution on the Kenai Peninsula has changed in recent years. (Photo courtesy Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)  An American marten with a VHF radio collar was part of graduate research to assess if and why their distribution on the Kenai Peninsula has changed in recent years. (Photo courtesy Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

An Outdoor View: Tomorrow’s charter

Judging by the increasing use of robots, in a few years they’ll be doing pretty much everything. Imagine a halibut-fishing charter in, say, 2027. You’ll… Continue reading

In this June 2, 2014 photo provided by Scott Morris, Eszter Horanyi carries her loaded bikepacking bike over downed trees in New Mexico on the Continental Divide Trail. (Scott Morris via AP)

Bikepacking adds a dose of fun to backpacking

By JOHN MARSHALL Associated Press PHOENIX — Backpacking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with the added bonus of getting a little exercise.… Continue reading

In this June 2, 2014 photo provided by Scott Morris, Eszter Horanyi carries her loaded bikepacking bike over downed trees in New Mexico on the Continental Divide Trail. (Scott Morris via AP)
Vibrant, green Elodea spews out from an ice-auger hole on Stormy Lake in 2013.  Fluridone, an herbicide, can kill this perennial invasive plant even in winter because it apparently continues to photosynthesize under the ice. (Photo courtesy Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Killing Elodea under the ice

Elodea, the first nonnative submersed freshwater plant to invade Alaska, was discovered on the Kenai Peninsula in late 2012. We now know that a hybrid… Continue reading

Vibrant, green Elodea spews out from an ice-auger hole on Stormy Lake in 2013.  Fluridone, an herbicide, can kill this perennial invasive plant even in winter because it apparently continues to photosynthesize under the ice. (Photo courtesy Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Is it working?  On the left, a typical rake sample of elodea from Beck Lake during surveys in 2013. (Photo by C. Anderson) On the right, a rake sample 13 weeks after Beck Lake was treated with fluridone in 2014. (Kenai National Wildlife Refuge photo)

Refuge Notebook: Progress on eradicating elodea from the Kenai Peninsula

I am fascinated by how plants and animals are named. Elodea, the first submersed freshwater invasive plant to infest Alaska, was named by the famous… Continue reading

Is it working?  On the left, a typical rake sample of elodea from Beck Lake during surveys in 2013. (Photo by C. Anderson) On the right, a rake sample 13 weeks after Beck Lake was treated with fluridone in 2014. (Kenai National Wildlife Refuge photo)
Spawning sockeye in Daniels Lake are beneficiaries of collaborative efforts to eradicate Elodea from the Kenai Peninsula. (Scott Shuler, SePRO)

Refuge Notebook: Elodea gone from the Kenai Peninsula?

The good news is that Elodea, the first submerged freshwater invasive plant to make it to Alaska, may be gone from the Kenai Peninsula. Last… Continue reading

Spawning sockeye in Daniels Lake are beneficiaries of collaborative efforts to eradicate Elodea from the Kenai Peninsula. (Scott Shuler, SePRO)
This June 6, 2010 photo taken in New Market, Va., shows hydrangea blooming red and blue on the same bush. Hydrangea are coarse-textured plants that draw the eye because of their contrasts in shape or appearance. (Dean Fosdick via AP)

Don’t forget about texture when planning your garden

The most popular element in landscape design is color, but texture is another important building block. Texture in gardening can be seen as well as… Continue reading

This June 6, 2010 photo taken in New Market, Va., shows hydrangea blooming red and blue on the same bush. Hydrangea are coarse-textured plants that draw the eye because of their contrasts in shape or appearance. (Dean Fosdick via AP)
This Sept. 6, 2008 photo provided by John Chao shows the Fire & Ice sign in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Photographer John Chao captured this good example of how interpretive signs work best: this panel in the park is placed in front of the geological feature it describes, so visitors can see the landscape and read about it at the same time. (John Chao via AP)

A lot of design goes into those helpful park and trail maps

By KIM COOK Associated Press A hike in the woods or a stroll through a preserve or park can be enhanced by a good trail… Continue reading

This Sept. 6, 2008 photo provided by John Chao shows the Fire & Ice sign in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Photographer John Chao captured this good example of how interpretive signs work best: this panel in the park is placed in front of the geological feature it describes, so visitors can see the landscape and read about it at the same time. (John Chao via AP)

An Outdoor View: Friends

It’s sad when your children die before you do, but it’s also sad when you outlive your friends. On Mar. 25, 2017, Howard Van Ness,… Continue reading

A view from the top of the hill overlooking Marsh Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Various animal tracks can be seen along the trail. (Photo by Travis Mabe, USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Breaking in Marsh Lake Trail

As March becomes a distant memory, time does remain for some end-of-the-season skiing or snowshoeing before spring finally decides to roll into town. I’ve been… Continue reading

A view from the top of the hill overlooking Marsh Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Various animal tracks can be seen along the trail. (Photo by Travis Mabe, USFWS)