USFS welcomes hikers in the Chugach

Kids may use cell phone app to get connected with nature

Gwethalyn Jacob takes a rest from a long hike up Cordova’s ski hill in May, 2015. “This photo is of my niece. I’m excited for summertime! Hiking around Ski Hill is one of the best outdoor activities – it’s very challenging and therapeutic,” said Ljezl Tomines, who works in the Trident North processing plant every summer, in Cordova and is the sister of Cordova resident Bjoirn Jacobs. Photo by Ljezl Tomines/For The Cordova Times

Cordova Ranger District for Chugach National Forest is gearing up for the Heney Ridge Trail hike on May 6 and a June 1 Agents of Discovery adventure where hikers on site will face challenges they can complete to earn rewards.

Join U.S. Forest Service employees at 8 a.m. May 6 at the Heney Ridge trailhead for a hike to the Big Tree, a three-mile round trip journey. Bring binoculars to spot waterfowl and songbirds and learn the story of K’iid K’iyaas (Ancient Tree). Sturdy boots with good traction are recommended.

On June 1, plans are in the works for an Agents of Discovery ( augmented reality mission adventure, in which participants use the Agents of Discovery app downloaded onto their phones or other devices. The site is geared for students in fourth grade and up, as well as adults who enjoy virtual games.

Agents of Discovery is a nationwide program active in schools, visitor centers, on forests and many other locations. This event is in celebration of National Trails Day and the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Act.

Participants are advised to prepare for weather and trail conditions by wearing sturdy boots and rain gear and a daypack for preparedness.

Here’s how the “dynamic nature-based game” works, according to Erin Cole, developed recreation program coordinator for the Cordova Ranger District, who will lead the group as a Forest Service employee.

Players, who are called “agents”, will download the Agents of Discovery app onto their phone or device and register for the game. Parents will be asked for permission by the app via an email provided during registration.

The agents will search for “mission sites” nearby. For Cordova, the mission is on Haystack Trail, on the Chugach National Forest Cordova Ranger District.

Agents must be on-site to play.

At the mission site, agents will discover challenges along the trail and throughout the woods that they will complete to earn rewards during the game, and ultimately, a prize at completion, Cole said.

The time of this event, which is expected to last one to two hours, is still to be determined. Cole said she is talking with school officials to determine if this can take place during the school day or after school hours. Participants are encouraged to bring their own snacks.

Challenges will vary from identifying species to habitat, and human impact on the environment, Chugach specific information, and larger issues such as global climate changes.

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PO Box 1388
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