Alaska is a birders paradise. Hundreds of bird species migrate to Alaska every year to raise their young in the summer and feast on the abundant and rich diversity of plants and animals. Some of these birds include owls, cranes, shorebirds, songbirds, and swans. Some birds come as far as the other side of the world in Antarctica and return when the Alaska summer ends.
When hiking through the backcountry, one can be unaware of the beautiful diversity of birds in their surroundings. Certain characteristics such as the color and shape of their head, beak, wings, chest, and feet along with a bird’s song are like fingerprints that aid in identification. Bird lovers often use these characteristics to quickly identify them in the field.
One such birder is Ben Lagasse who came to Alaska for his third summer to study shorebirds as part of a long-term research project run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Summer of 2016 included surveys of breeding shorebirds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, documenting breeding shorebird ecology in Barrow, and some post-work backpacking around the Atigun Pass and Galbraith Lake areas in the Brooks Range.
It was a pleasure to have hosted Ben at Base Camp Anchorage hostel while he prepared for the summers research outings. Many of his mornings were often spent sipping a cup of coffee while preparing light-level geolocator tags. These tags were then used to document the migration ecology and winter distribution of Dunlin (see above picture) throughout the circumpolar arctic.
We send a big appreciation to Ben and all the other passionate bird lovers out there who remind us of the rich diversity of birds around us and the important role they play in our environment. Here are a few birding moments Ben captured from this summer. For any ornithologists, birdwatchers, and nature lovers, an Alaskan summer has no shortage of opportunities for wildlife viewing as millions of birds flock north as part of their ancient annual migrations. See you next summer Ben!
September 30th marked the end our third hostel season. Each year brings excitement to meet the courageous travelers visiting Alaska. From solo travelers bicycling south to Argentina, to mountaineers climbing the tallest mountain in North America, many arrive because something within them beckons. It’s a familiar voice for outdoor enthusiasts — Alaska’s majestic and raw wilderness is at it’s heart. There are no guarantees in the wild and everyone who hikes in the backcountry must be willing to take some risks. The dangers are real, but with them come beautiful gifts that make a lasting impact on our lives.
For travelers whose first hostel experience was Base Camp Anchorage, we hope we left you with a positive impression of a community driven by social exchange and love of nature. This wouldn’t be possible without the joyful spirits who came to work at Base Camp Anchorage. We are grateful to Corey, Jake, and Britanie for creating a nourishing and welcoming space for travelers. We are also appreciative to our volunteers who gave their time and energy to keep the hostel clean and comfortable. It’s a long list but we thank Nathan, Adrian, Claire, Nessa, Katherine, Patrick, Nicole, and Cooper.
Lastly, we send an abundance of appreciation to our guests who stayed with us this summer. Many of you became our friends and part of our family. We wish all of you continued joy on your journeys.
Throughout the winter we will continue sharing stories of traveler’s adventures in Alaska. Until then, may your journey of exploration, insight and wonder continue wherever you find yourself!
Base Camp Anchorage hostel
Back in the 1970s travelling around the United States took some creativity for young adventurous travelers and backpackers. Many were often travelling to similar destinations but it was not easy to find affordable transportation where everyone could stay together. The green tortoise was created by taking buses and retrofitting them with beds to accommodate up to 36 passengers. Carpooling at it’s finest, they crisscrossed around the US to major cities like New York and San Francisco and the famous Burning Man in Nevada. The Green Tortoise has grown since then with trips in Central America, Mexico and Alaska.
Every year the ‘big green tortoise bus’ makes a stop at Base Camp Anchorage to relax between trips from Seattle to Alaska. Bernie Blaug has been leading trips for the Green Tortoise bus for several years now and his passion for the outdoors resonates at our hostel. We enjoy exchanging stories and learning about their travels as they wind their way through Canada and up to Alaska. To read more about the Green Tortoise Experience, check out their website here:
We had the privilege of having Dr. Krishna Sriperambuduru and his daughter Jaahnavi Sriperambuduru stay with us here at Base Camp Anchorage in early July. Dr. Krishna made almost-daily delicious Indian cuisine dishes to share with other guests here in the hostel and we learned about the accomplishments of he and his daughter. Both experienced mountaineers, Jaahnavi is 14 years old and attempting to become the youngest girl to ever climb the 7 highest summits on the 7 different continents. She has already climbed Mount Kosciuszko in Australia (7,310 ft), Mt. Elbrus in Russia (18,510 ft), Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa (19,341 ft.) and most recently Alaska’s own Mt. Denali (20,308 ft) which she summited on July 10th of this year. ‘It was the hardest climb yet’ Jaahnavi said afterwards. Her next climb will be Mt. Vinson in Antarctica (16,067 ft) which she will be heading to in December of this year.
We are proud of Jaahnavi and wish her and her father the best on their climbing adventures. You can follow her during her travels or donate to help her on her upcoming climbs at her website here:
Our friend Domnic from Toronto is a talented photographer and stayed with us earlier this summer during his travels of Alaska. He was fortunate enough to have a very close encounter with a few bald eagles, golden eagles, and sea gulls on a beach during his drive to Homer on the Kenai Peninsula. These shots were taken with a Nikon D610 camera. Enjoy the moments he captured, as well as some of his other impressive photography. All the best to you Domnic!
For many travelers, the moment arrives when your spirit yearns for adventure. It takes courage to leave the comforts and security of home to explore the unknown. Maud Scheid heeded life’s call and took one year off from work in France to ride her bicycle around North and South America. She begins her journey in Alaska and will be bicycling down to San Francisco over the next 5 months. She will then fly to Peru and continue her trip in South America. It was a joy to have Maud stay at our hostel during her travels. Carrying all your possessions on a bike for one year takes organization and endurance. We wish Maud a safe journey filled with friendship and adventure.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
We started our hostel season a few weeks ago with a celebration and special performance by the Bergamot. An Indie folk pop band duo based out of New York, Jillian and Nathaniel have been touring the country sharing their beautiful music. With over 12 years experience singing and writing music, they have created a special synergy in their performances. We were honored to have them perform at our hostel while on tour in Alaska. Check out a brief video below of their performance with us and visit their website at www.thebergamot.com
Base Camp Anchorage Hostel Staff
May began the start of our third season as Base Camp Anchorage. We are excited to welcome the courageous travelers coming through our doors. Our hostel’s success begins with our staff. This year we welcome Jake, Britanie, and Corey to the family. Jake and Britanie both come to us from Minnesota. Jake has a passion for music where the piano is his calling and Britanie is an adventurous traveler. Together they decided to venture cross country exploring the United States in their van. They have put thirty thousand miles since February and arrived in Alaska this April. Our paths crossed in slab city California and they headed Alaska’s call.
Corey loves traveling to Latin America and is a long-distance hiker. He has hiked both the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. I am excited to have them join the family and look forward to another year of community driven social exchange focused on our love of nature and Alaska.
Happy Trails !!!
Many outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to Alaska’s mountains. During the winter, the backcountry is a skier’s paradise. Luc Mehl has explored hidden gems all over Alaska. Last winter, he and some friends traversed 150 miles from Thompson Pass to Palmer near Anchorage. Below is a video produced with Fairweather Ski Works showing a close look at back country skiing in Alaska. Fair-weather Ski Works harvests and handcrafts their skis in Haines, Alaska.
Neal Brown lives in Fairbanks, Alaska and is passionate about the Aurora Borealis a.k.a “Northern Lights”. On Jan 20th he took an amazing video with his sony camera of the Northern Lights as it looks to the human eye. We send Neal enormous appreciation for capturing and sharing this gorgeous display.