Ketchikan Group Explores the
By Marie L. Monyak
January 17, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center hosts
a free presentation with a guest speaker every Friday evening
from 7 to 8 PM. There are a variety of topics covered,
both educational and entertaining. Most presentations are
centered around Alaska's environment, wildlife, natural resources,
native culture and more.
This past Friday, the Discovery Center's warm comfortable theatre
was the site of two separate slideshows and a multi-speaker presentation
by the Ketchikan Ladies Trail Association and Alaska Waters of
Shar Schwartz, Ivan
Simonek and Jim Leslie.
Ivan Simonek is a professional photographer from Wrangell.
He took all the pictures for Leslie's slide show and does all
the photography for Alaska Waters.
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
Sher Schwartz and Jim
The Ketchikan Ladies Trail Association came into being one day
in May of 2003 when Sher Schwartz and two friends hiked Deer
Mountain and decided it would be great to have a club that catered
to women who weren't in the best condition, but wanted to spend
time outdoors and get in shape at the same time.
The KLTA currently has over 50 members whose hiking abilities
range from upper beginner to intermediate level. Every
week there is an organized hike taking under two hours, held
either on a Saturday or Sunday. During the summer
there is a monthly advanced hike that lasts from three to eight
For the last three years the KLTA has had an annual spring migration
bird walk on Gravina Island and just this past December the group
was involved in the Christmas bird count in Ketchikan.
The KLTA is a diverse group of women over 35, from all walks
of life on our island. Membership is free and communication
is conducted mostly by e-mail. The weekly hikes are posted
on the Internet every Wednesday.
If anyone was thinking that the Ketchikan Ladies Trail Association
is a tame group of gals that stroll through the woods, they had
a surprise coming this past Friday evening. This last fall,
eight members of the KLTA embarked upon a sometimes harrowing,
high adventure trip, 160 miles up the Stikine River aboard the
Chutine Warrior, a 610 horsepower jet boat.
Alaska Waters in Wrangell is a full service charter company owned
by Jim and Wilma Leslie. It was Leslie's expertise and
experience that the local women counted on to safely carry them
on their 330 mile round trip up the Stikine River to Telegraph,
BC and back.
After a brief introduction by Schwartz, Leslie narrated the slide
show using pictures from professional photographer Ivan Simonek
who doubled as a deck hand for the KLTA trip. Leslie's quick
wit and humor immediately infected the audience. The fist
clue that this was not going to be a paddleboat trip up the lazy
Mississippi came when Leslie announced that the Stikine is the
fastest free flowing navigable river in North America.
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak ©2006
Once on the Stikine, having left Wrangell behind, the familiar
terrain of the rain forest slowly dissolved and rocky snow capped
peaks appeared through the clouds. Spruce, Cedar and Hemlock
were replaced by trees adorned in the fiery colors of fall.
Numerous glaciers and cliffs of solid granite surrounded the
party on their journey northward.
Slide after slide, the audience was being transported by Leslie
to the icy cold Stikine.
By midday the party had stopped on a beach for lunch and were
rewarded with Leslie's traditional Braut bar-b-que. The
KLTA group took the opportunity to stretch their legs and do
some exploring only after being reminded that they were in brown
bear country and must be accompanied by an armed guide - just
Back on the river, gliding through awe inspiring scenery, several
hours passed and the group finally reached their first night's
stop. Three miles from the beach, high on a plateau is
the Glenora Guest Ranch, a 150 year old working homestead.
Our group of ladies were surprised to meet the proprietress and
hostess Nancy Ball, who lives alone on the ranch, year round.
Her 105 pound frame doesn't stop Ball from hunting
her own moose, chopping firewood and running a trap line in winter
along with operating the ranch. It should be noted that
this warm and gracious hostess is approximately 70 years old.
The KLTA ladies roused late their second morning to embark upon
a three hour hike comfortable in the knowledge that they were
protected by a rifle toting Nancy Ball.
Ready for another day on the river, after saying their goodbyes,
our adventurous group proceeded North.
Leslie informed the audience that the last leg of the trip took
the group to what is known as the Grand Canyon of the Stikine.
After traveling upriver, approximately 25 miles from Glenora
Ranch, the group reached white water, class five white water
to be exact! Big water, whirlpools and surges surrounded
our group of adventurous ladies. One challenge of traversing
this treacherous river was the timing necessary to climb a 40
degree incline which was the result of an eight foot surge which
Leslie accomplished at about 2 miles and hour with all the power
he could draw from the 610 horsepower engine.
Having made it safely through the white water, they reached their
final destination of Telegraph, BC. A historic village
from the Gold Rush Days, Telegraph is home to an old Hudson Bay
Trading Post building converted into the Stikine River Song Lodge
where our group stayed for several days before their return trip.
The nights presentation was far from over as Leslie turned the
podium back over to the KLTA ladies.
The group of women from Ketchikan
that participated in this adventure were Karen Brand, Pat Chapman,
Becky Harris, Tammy Howard, Victoria Lord, Brenda Manicke, Sher
Schwartz and Karla Sunderland.
Karen Brand was first to take the stage and told the audience;
"When I attended the organizational meeting in July, I didn't
know anybody." "The women were nice but they
were a diverse group of different ages, background, different
employment, I was nervous." She then stated, "We
were diverse, but we had one thing in common, the love of hiking
and it turned out to be a great trip."
After showing slides of Wrangell, Brand encouraged everyone in
the audience to visit Wrangell especially since we now have the
fast ferries for transportation. Brand highly recommended
Petroglyph Beach, the Wrangell Museum and hiking, of course.
Tammy Howard took her turn at the podium to tell of her experience
hiking the beach after Leslie's customary Braut bar-b-que on
their first day of the trip. According to Howard, "A
lot of people come here to see wildlife. I was happy just seeing
the tracks in the sand - moose, bear, wolf, geese but no human
tracks." She went on, "We were following bear
tracks and wolf tracks, one was following the other and we were
following them." The audience burst into laughter
at the logical conclusion. "As long as they didn't
turn around," Howard said, "I was happy just
seeing the tracks."
Karen Brand, Sher Schwartz,
Tammy Howard, Karla Sunderland.
Photography by Marie L. Monyak ©2006
Sher Schwartz was up next, relating about the portion of the
trip that led the group to the Glenora Guest Ranch. With
the assistance of photos, the audience could see Nancy Ball's
log cabin, her many flower baskets, the well kept ranch and Ball's
companion, a pure white cat. Schwartz said, "The meals
are all family style and Ball and Leslie did all the cooking
on a wood burning stove." Schwartz continued,
saying, "We each had to share a cabin with a roommate and
Brenda Manicke was my roommate." She said, "Our
cabin had one large bed and one smaller single bed, we had do
decide who would sleep where."
At this point Schwartz gave the floor to Brenda Manicke.
Manicke picks up the story, telling the audience, "I grew
up in a large family and we had to fight for the best bed."
Manicke said, "At my mom's home, we had a rollaway bed that
was my favorite, it was kind of bowed in the middle but I could
snuggle right in." Manicke went on to say that she
gave Schwartz the queen size bed so she would have the smaller
one. "I pulled back the three wool blankets and there
was an unbelievable memory moment for me." Manicke said,
"The sheets were the same exact style and color and design
as the sheets on the rollaway bed at my mom's house and I wondered,
how did Nancy know?"
Karla Sunderland was having her turn at the podium and announced
that she was the group's historian. Sunderland chose to
focus on day three when the group reached Telegraph, BC.
She educated the audience with the interesting facts regarding
the settlement of Telegraph following the discovery of gold on
the Stikine River in 1861. Sunderland said, "Today,
Telegraph Creek is a quiet place, there are many deserted historic
buildings dating back a century or more." "The
Hudson Bay Trading Post was constructed in 1898 and originally
located a few miles below the old town site of Glenora."
Sunderland said, "In 1903 the building was disassembled
and moved upstream and reconstructed to become what is today
the River Song Lodge." She said, "This is where
our group spent two nights."
Karen Brand finished the KLTA presentation with the last of the
many slides and more information about the hikes the group took
The audience gave a rousing applause for the entire group that
partook of this daring adventure.
For information on joining the Ketchikan Ladies Trail Association
call 228-1444 or email redfor1518 (AT) yahoo.com.
The next presentation at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center
will be on Friday, January 20th at 7PM: "Exploring the Big
Island Prince of Wales Island, AK." Dennis
Benson, US Forest Service Recreation, Lands, Minerals & Heritage
Staff Officer for Prince of Wales Island, will outline the many
recreation opportunities available on Forest Lands on Prince
of Wales Island.
Marie L. Monyak is
a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Publish A Letter on SitNews Read Letters/Opinions
A Letter to the Editor
Stories In The News