Inspired by their experiences in the Chugach Children’s Forest, many of our past participants have been inspired to write articles, stories, poems, and audio stories about their adventures. Here is a selection of their work.
Whittier School student, Michaela Medez, participated in the 2013 Babkin Marine Stewardship Expedition for middle school-aged youth. She wrote a thoughtful poem about her experience caring for Prince William Sound. Read it here.
Girdwood High School student, Garrett Rutherford, volunteer on the June 2012 Habitat Restoration Kayaking Expedition in Prince William Sound shared his journal from the trip. Click here to view Garrett’s Journal
Anchorage School District Migrant Education Program’s Patrick Cordova participant in the 2010 Prince William Sound Expedition and 2011 SCA crew member. Click here to visit his blog
OUR FIRST VOYAGE:
Students recount their June 2008 visit to the
Chugach National Forest
For two weeks in June, fifteen students in the Home Base After School Program joined Alaska Geographic and other community partners to explore the trails, glaciers, rainforest, and waters of the Chugach National Forest and Prince William Sound. It marked one of the first on-the-ground programs of the Children’s Forest. Here’s what they had to say about the experience!
Best Day of My Life
Today was the best day of my life. I saw one whale for the first time ever in my life. Also, I got to go in a really long tunnel (2.5 miles) on the way to the boat port. I also got to hold some shrimp and a crab in my hands. I also got to drive a 58-foot long boat while going out. I experienced my worse fear, which is going kayaking, but I overcame that. I went kayaking in the ice next to the huge glaciers. Everything else was fantastic, awesome, and every other great word you can think of. The funniest part of the trip was when the boat rocked so hard that some dishes broke. But that was the best day of my life.
Prince William Sound Experience
My trip to Prince William Sound was fun because we got to go on a superb boat. While on the boat we were able to see a lot of animals like black-legged kittiwakes, sea otters, orca whales, humpback whales, a black bear, and a seal. It was fun riding on this boat; it is my first time being on a boat. I liked it when Greg and I went kayaking. It was so crazy. I also liked it when we went into the cave. There we went under the waterfall, and found some mussels and barnacles. We cracked the mussels open. Seeing the glacier was awesome. It was falling so rapidly and it sounded like thunder in the sky. We also dropped some shrimp pods but we only caught four shrimp and a crab. The fjords looked so beautiful with all the green foliage and snow. I saw five glaciers. They were huge. Then we played a math game to see what latitude and longitude we’d be to in one hour.
I learned how to drive a 58ft long boat, which was cool. Riding a boat is fun because it’s like you’re the captain of your own boat. Riding this boat was the best Alaskan experience ever. I will miss this place and everyone I have met. I wish I could not leave. I know a lot of people will miss me and I will miss them. This was the best trip ever.
Our Trip on the Train
When we went on the 2.5-mile hike I really enjoyed the environment. It was really peaceful and exciting. We saw moose and bear prints, moose and bear scat, and a moose antler that was chewed up by a porcupine trying to get salt for their food. But the highlight of the trip was hiking on the trail to Spencer Glacier, which received its name from an explorer who traveled from one end to the other, but was stopped short in his trail by an avalanche, and got stuck in the glacier. But people have said that he carried a backpack with $4,000 worth of gold inside it, and it is yet to be discovered. But that wasn’t the only thing we did on the trip. We played card games, listened to music, took pictures, and talked to each other. That was our trip on the train.
On The Train
When we got to the Whistle Stop we hiked on the trail and at the end of it we got to a lake with a big glacier on the other side of it. There were big chunks of ice in the water from the glacier. The view was really pretty. We passed a blue-green river that was sparkling because the sun was shining right on it. It was beautiful. I wish we could have stayed longer and just looked at the view all day. I love to hike and I always have fun. The train is the coolest thing ever. We got to take a lot of cool pictures on the train. The tunnel to Whittier is a lot more fun on a train.
The mountains are so big they look like they’re following you. I saw four helicopters and three boats in the water with people in them. If I tried to count all the mountains I would still be counting. I also tried to count the waterfalls but I lost count at about sixteen. I saw four moose eating. I saw houses on some of the mountains. There were a lot of dead trees. Some were tipped over with all of the roots above the ground. We saw three eagles all together and dall sheep really low on the mountains so we didn’t need binoculars. We saw a lot of cool different birds but the eagles are the coolest!
By Grace Clayton
When I first saw Spencer Glacier, I was so amazed that there were rocks and plants of all sorts. We met the man that actually made the trails that went to Spencer Glacier, which was really awesome. It was really fun to see the Glacier. We were exploring the footprints and plants. I was carefully visualizing all of the interesting plants and rocks and footprints in the ground. I saw a wishing rock that had white lines on it covering half of the rock. The more lines the more wishes you get. We learned the history of Spencer Glacier. I learned that quartz had gold in it in the late 1800s. The footprints that I saw were moose prints and bear prints. The parts of the hike that I enjoyed most were the views and the clouds. I saw a brown bear inside the binoculars. On the train I was playing Uno and Macula. I was listening to the sound of the animals on the train. I really had a very fun time on the train and in Spencer Glacier.
My Adventure on Thursday
By Hattie Williams
Today on the hike I felt so relieved when we were finished. I have never walked that long. Thank you Ms. Shirley for making and letting me go on this trip. I had so much fun. We got off the train to go on a hike about 3 hours later. At first I thought it was so boring then I walked faster and had lots of fun. On the way back I had lots of fun, because I was talking to Kaleel and while I was doing it I didn’t even know was hiking. When we were finished I didn’t even want to stop.
It was a fun experience going outside instead of being inside all day. It was fun being outside, because it was warm for a change. I had fun exploring and looking at the glaciers. For a summer job I would like to be a forest ranger because they are outside all day. The forest was a very beautiful green and white. What I thought was crazy is how much snow is still on the mountains. It was cool being outside because no cars could come to the Whistle Stop. We saw lots of birds, bears, and moose. It was also cool to be in the tunnels, they were dark and long. The water looked calm and cool. I’ve never been on a train before. It was awesome! The cool thing about Alaska is that it is like no other place in the country. The Chugach Forest is awesome because there are no buildings. It is so quiet. I like it when it’s quiet because you can reflect on the forest. There are no limits outside, you can do anything. I like going outside because it’s not fun being stuck and limited inside.
Overcoming my Fears
By Grace Clayton
The boat ride that we took on Friday was really awesome. We learned about latitude and longitude on the boat. I saw whales, starfish, squid, and brown bears. The most exciting part was when we went on the raft. I got to drive the boat and the raft. It was really awesome. I also overcame my fears. I often get seasick, but I didn’t. I also do not like getting on small boats, but I did. We saw snow and ice falls from an avalanche that took place a long time ago. We made pizza and brownies for lunch. I learned that you can overcome any fear that you have. You just have to believe.
What I learned was to overcome my fear of kayaking. It was very fun but scary at the same time. I enjoyed the boat the most because it gave the most beautiful view of the outdoors. It also helped me with my math in the area of latitude and longitude. I really liked how I got to drive the small boat called Bob and the 415-ton boat, twice. Another thing that I enjoyed was the cave and the ice chunks in the water surrounding it. When we were in the cave Ms. Shirley and I were singing “I believe I can fly” to see if we echo in the cave. The most beautiful part of the trip was going out the front of the boat and seeing Humpback whales and sea otters. Then Jackie, Grace, and I made pizza and Ms. Astrid made brownies that were yummy. The last thing I enjoyed was going over the wave and the boat rocking left and right.
My Adventure on Friday
Friday morning we got on a boat in Prince William Sound. When we got on the boat we met all the people who worked on the boat, and learned all the safety stuff. Then I got a tour of the whole entire boat. Then I went on the deck to take some more pictures. I took a whole bunch. While we were taking pictures, we saw a humpback whale. But before that, we loaded up traps to catch shrimp. I was taking pictures when we were doing it because someone deleted all of then. We came back inside to eat some pizza that Mary, Jackie, Grace, and Amir made. It was so delicious. The girls went kayaking later on and the boys went hiking. About a half hour later we switched. Ms. Nancy then let us drive Bob, the small boat. We went to check the traps but we only caught four shrimp plus a crab.
My Trip to Prince William Sound
At first when I heard we were going on a boat I thought it would be a regular boring-looking boat, but when we got inside it was a house! It was so cool. I felt like I could live there (I probably could too). From the front of the boat we could see everything! When the boat rocks, it’s so much fun. I love going back and forth and up and down like the wave pool at H2Oasis, but better. Kayaking was really fun. At first I was scared because I thought I was going to tip over. When I got in the kayak I felt a lot better and I had a lot of fun. I almost ran into a few big chunks of ice but I got around them very well, especially because I had never been kayaking before. We went through a lot of little tiny pieces of ice that sounded like Rice Krispies under us.
We saw a humpback whale trying to catch fish. It kept coming up and going back down. It was so cool because I had never seen a whale before. It was really close to the boat so we didn’t need binoculars to get a good view of it. I really enjoyed riding in “BOB” the lifeboat. We got to look in caves on land and caves that you can only get to by boat. We saw a lot of sea otters and some of them had babies on their stomachs. I also saw two bears: a black bear and a brown bear. We played Uno for a while then we went back outside. We got to drive both boats, the big one and the smaller one called “BOB.” We saw a really big glacier that was a mile across. When we got back to the big boat we had delicious brownies.
Our Trip on the Boat
By Randall Wilson
With the day starting promptly at 7:30, we were pretty much busy from 7:31 to 8:10 packing up our belongings, getting ready for our day, and putting our belongings in the vehicle. We took about a 20-minute drive to the boat dock where we pretty much got directly on the boat. From the first step I took into the boat I was amazed by the set-up and organization of the cabin. There were fruit baskets, muffins, tables, and they even had a kitchen. After we were settled in, we were told the ground rules, and how everything works. The first thing we did was explore the boat, then we were taught a lesson on latitude and longitude, then we had a contest. We were to estimate the latitude and longitude of where we would be in 30 minutes. Hattie and I were the winners of the contest. After that we pretty much did what we wanted to do.
At about 12:00, the girls made pizzas. Pepperoni, cheese, and steak and onion. We ate all of it. Shortly after that, we traveled on a speedboat named “Bob” across the water to a cave to go exploring. After about 15 minutes or so, one of the captains came and picked us up to go kayaking in the water, which I think was the best part of the trip. I went with my buddy Amir in a two person kayak. We were paddling all over the sea, racing our friends, but most of all just using teamwork to move across the water. It was so fun that we did not want to get off the kayak, but unfortunately we had to. That was the most exciting part of the trip. When we got off we were greeted by delicious brownies and cold milk. After we were done with that we hung out, walked around the boat and picked up the shrimp pots that we dropped in the water on the way back to the dock. We brought in four shrimp and a baby crab, which we dropped back in the ocean. I had the time of my life on this trip and I look forward to doing it again someday.