I gently set my new skin-on-frame sea kayak into the Mariner Slough, and then shoehorned myself into the tight cockpit. As I readied myself, the outgoing current tried to pull me loose from the shore. I set my paddle to lock me into place while I secured my neoprene spray skirt around the opening and pulled on gloves. At the mouth of the slough and all along the shore, 4 to 6-foot waves crashed, the water being most dynamic where the current met the waves. I set my eyes on this zone, studied it for a minute, took a breath and shoved off. How the new-to-me kayak would handle big waves was a mystery and one I was anxious to solve.
Of the 80 or so farms, homesteads, ranches, hatcheries and homestays that make up the Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms, or WWOOF, network in Alaska, Homer has a whopping 40 of them. From aquaponics to pig farming to permaculture design to cold hardy garlic breeding to survival bushcraft skills, Homer has a wealth of knowledge to pair with incoming helpers.
The idea behind any wilderness bicycling adventure is to ride as much as possible. This often means shifting into the lowest gear and focusing every ounce of attention to make it over watermelon sized rocks, deadfall trees, through knee-deep creeks, and other assorted obstacles one is bound to encounter in the backcountry. For me, the challenge is a rewarding and personal one, but when riding with good-natured friends any “dab,” which is jokingly called out anytime a foot touches the ground, is to be avoided.
As if there weren’t already enough reasons to love Homer’s Karen Hornaday Park, a group of service-minded volunteers just added a few more with several new sections of walking trails.
Every summer we jaded Homerites sometimes scoff at the sport halibut fishermen who head out almost daily (except Wednesdays) on charter boats. “Pukers,” we might call them, because of course none of us get seasick. Alaskans will drive 80 miles or motor across Kachemak Bay and try our luck dipnetting should-to-shoulder for salmon, but go out on an all-day charter boat halibut fishing trip? That’s so touristy.
“Whoever came up with this idea is a genius!” a young girl proclaimed as she slipped and splashed her way through a pit full of mud Saturday off East End Road in Homer.
In the past 10 years since fat bikes have become popular for riding on beaches and snow in Alaska, people have regularly ridden them from Anchor Point to Homer or into the snowy backcountry of the Caribou Hills. On Saturday, Homer couple Kim McNett and Bjørn Olson finished taking their fat bikes where no one has ever ridden before, about 450 miles in a 24-day trip from Point Hope to Utqiagvik, much of it on Arctic beaches.
A bald eagle sits near its nest by the Homer motorhome dump on June 24, 2017, across the Sterling Highway from the Homer Post Office. Since 2010, a pair of bald eagles has nested in the area near Beluga Slough south of the Lake Street and Sterling Highway intersection. The first nest was destroyed when the tree fell down in a winter storm. In 2012 the eagles built a new nest across from the Homer Post Office by the motorhome dump station. In 2014 they built another nest in a new tree closer to the slough. In 2016 they built another nest, but in 2017 moved back to the post office location.
By Michael Armstrong
The 25th annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival celebrates its silver anniversary with a look backward to one of the first birders to document the annual arrival of shorebirds to Homer. George West, who died in 2016, is the festival’s featured artist. His painting of five shorebirds serves as the festival’s logo this year.
The Homer Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the 24th Annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament (WKT) on Saturday, March 18. Mark your calendars, get your boats ready, get out and fish.
Forty-two volunteers participated in Homer’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, five watching feeders in their own yard and the others out in the field.
The weather was not too cooperative with icy walking, limited visibility for most of the day and resulting decreased available daylight hours, but many were expressing the same thought, “We’ve seen much worse!”
A total of 64 species were seen on the Count Day (Saturday, Dec. 17).
Jay Landreville, deckhand on the Arctic Envy of Silver Fox Charters, holds up a wolf-fish a client caught July 12 off Pogibshi Point. The client had been jigging for rockfish when he caught the wolffish. Landreville of Hutchinson, Minn., estimated the fish was between 4.5 and 5 feet long. They let the fish go.
Glenn Holliwell, a fish biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Homer, confirmed the identification of the wolffish. Holliwell wrote in an email that the wolffish he’s seen are usually dark brown, but do have a reddish-brown color phase.
To his great surprise and elation, Seldovia resident Dick Wyland caught a 245-pound halibut while fishing with Seldovia Fishing Adventures on July 15 after hooking a yellow eye. It turned out that the halibut was attempting to eat the yellow eye, a meal that landed the fish on the boat deck.
Kayaking, though a popular summer activity in Homer, can prove dangerous if not approached with the proper information and equipment.
“Homer has had, I think, two kayak deaths. There have been numerous people who have gotten into trouble and had to be rescued,” said True North Kayak Adventures founding member Alison O’Hara. “That happens occasionally and that can be the realm of people not being aware of the tides … and get swept out to sea. Kayaks tip over. The occasional person gets into trouble because of poor judgment or the weather kicks in.”
One greenhouse, two high tunnels, three fenced open-air garden plots and three-and-a-half years of work make up Synergy Gardens, a producer of Homer-grown vegetables.
Located about 10 miles out East End Road on Wilderness Lane, Synergy Gardens is owned by three humans and one dog — Lori and Wayne Jenkins, their son Obie, and a Golden-Bernese mountain dog mix named Lilu.
Every Saturday from 4-7 p.m. in Homer, often at Karen Hornaday Park, brave warriors fight evil lizards, or escort a princess with a flag across a battlefield, or simply take part in a free-for-all death match.
But it’s not as violent and bloody as it sounds.
The arrow tips are made of cloth-stuffed socks and the swords forged of foam. Most weapons weigh about as much, or less, as the average foam swimming pool noodle. However, to the subjects of the Shire of IceFire Bay, the glory — and fun — of the games are quite real.
Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park has launched a Bear-Resistant-Food-Container (BRFC) lending program to promote safe and clean camping. These bear-proof food storage containers are available to borrow for camping and outdoor adventures in areas where bear hangs are not an option. Containers should be placed on the ground or under rocks at least 100 yards from a camping area.
The BRFCs can be checked out from the following locations:
• The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Homer office; $80 cash deposit, refunded upon return
Correction: This column has been updated to show that fishing is not allowed at Deep Creek.
The chinook run at The Fishing Hole has been fluctuating lately and may slow down a bit with the smaller tides rolling in but, as of 03:30 a couple of days ago, the fish bowl was full. Unfortunately, the critters were downright ill-mannered.
When fishing starts heating up in the pristine waters of the lower Kenai it’s akin to being in Vegas and rolling consecutive sevens from dusk to dawn with the payoffs in pure silver and greenbacks.
Last week combo charters were nailing both shiny kings and moss colored halibut while the rivers surrendered coffers of dazzling chinooks.
And, they kept on coming: On June 6, 2016, 150 of the beauties passed the Anchor River weir bringing the total of the upstream stampeders to 2,236.