For many Alaskans, the West Coast and the East Coast seem worlds apart. But Hannah Hamberg, who splits her time between rainy Southeast Alaska and upstate New York, has learned that you don’t have to choose between coasts – you just have to be able to find the connections between them. To hear Hannah’s story in her own words, click the link at the bottom of the page. To read more, just scroll down.
Hannah Hamberg is wearing red lipstick and a very crisp white eyelet jacket. She looks as if she could have just popped in from a New York City street, the place where she likes to spend weekends with her friends when she’s at school upstate, where she studies graphic design. As she’s talking to us, her dad comes downstairs and laughs. “It doesn’t look like you could be the person who you’re talking about,” he says and Hannah laughs.
Because of course, we’re not in New York. We’re sitting at her dining room table, in her large and spacious kitchen, looking out the big windows at the towering forest of Southeast Alaska. And even if Hannah can navigate city streets like a native, the story she’s telling us is about running from a grizzly bear. “We were just across the way from my house, clam digging. We got out on the beach, and walked down about ten feet. We were about to start digging clams. And then we looked up – and saw a sow with two cubs. And she got up on her hind legs and started growling at us. We ran back to the boat. You’re not supposed to run, but the boat seemed so close.” She laughs. “We left the shovel behind.”
Hannah is a refreshing change from some of the frustrating stereotypes of what it means to grow up in Alaska, and the vague pressure to “seem outdoorsy.” Hannah can put on xtratufs and carrying a gun up a mountain, but she also sees her childhood in the wilderness as a resource in a more subtle way. “I’m not conscious of the way it affects me, but it has to in some way. It gives me a different perspective because I didn’t grow up in New York City. I have a point of view that isn’t as influenced. I feel like it kind of helped me create my own point of view rather than being influenced by outside perspectives.”
And they are some fairly towering perspectives. “I’ve spent a lot of time on float planes,” she says. “We have a cabin in Prince of Wales and we always used to take the float plane down. It’s a surreal experience to be flying in between peaks and look down and see a mountain goat. Or feel the downdraft coming between the mountains, and getting physically pushed down by the wind.” So what does Hannah plan to do with the unique perspective she is cultivating, whether that’s by hunting with her dad or taking classes at the Rhode Island School of Design?
“There’s this magnetizing effect that Sitka has,” she says. “I always want to come back. For my job, I’ll probably have to start in the city – NYC, or San Fran. But my goal is to come back to Sitka, and to do design out of Sitka, for this area. It’s home, you know. It’s home.”
The Sitka Conservation Society field crews are doing remote field work throughout the Tongass this summer. Our field work this summer includes salmon-habitat restoration work at Sitkoh River and Sitkoh Lake, ecosystem conservation and connectivity work in Hoonah Sound, invasive plant removal in Wilderness Areas, helping teach a visiting University course on Alaska’s Forests, Fisheries and Wilderness, and much more. On some of the trips, there are opportunities to jump on some of our flights or transport to get out to remote locations. We hope that SCS members can take advantage of these opportunities and get out to know and experience our Tongass backyard!
1) Kayak Drop Off at False Island in Peril Straits, July 13th, $150: Have you ever wanted to paddle the coast of the infamous Deadman’s Reach, watch for bubble-net feeding whales off Povorotni Island, walk through the majestic stands of Sitka Spruce in Ushk Bay, and ride the tidal currents through Segius Narrows? Next weekend could be your chance to do it!!! SCS is taking an Allen Marine transport boat that will be picking up a University Class at False Island on July 13th at 9am. We have room for a total of 9 kayaks and camping gear (can be double Kayaks). Reserve your spot on this transport and Kayak drop-off for $150 by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 747-7509 (fee helps pay for transport to the site. You are responsible for your own expedition, gear, etc. We will drop you off at the False Island dock)
2) Peril Strait Boat Cruise Ride-Along, July 13th, $45: The trip from Sitka North through Peril Straits is a maze of twisting waterways, islands, mountains, treacherous tidal currents, and beautiful bays and coves. Ride along with SCS on an Allen Marine Boat for a pick-up at False Island. The boat will leave at 9am and will return at approximately 1pm. Bring your charts and see if you can follow-along with the route through the passage that separates Baranof and Chichagof Islands! There are only 2 spots available on this trip so if you are interested in this opportunity to travel through Peril Straits, get your tickets now at SCS Offices.
3) Float Plane Drop-off at Goulding Harbor in the West Chichagof Wilderness Area July 30th or 31st ($150/person): Goulding Harbor is one of the most spectacular nooks in the West Chichagof Wilderness Areas. Its unique shoreline is dimpled and littered with islets and coves and the long sloping beaches make for great brown bear habitat. Two trail-heads depart from Goulding Harbor. One leads to White Sulfur Springs and the other follows an old mining rail-road to the Goulding Lakes. It is an amazing place for a wild and remote Wilderness Adventure. SCS has scheduled a float plane pick-up at Goulding Harbor for a crew that will be coming in from a Wilderness expedition. If you would like to take advantage of a float-plane drop off to explore the Goulding Harbor Area, this is your chance. Contact email@example.com (747-7509) for more information (This is a drop-off only. Participants are responsible for their own travel plans and arrangements after drop-off).
Keep watching for more opportunities to get out and explore the Tongass. SCS already has boat cruises scheduled and there may be more opportunities to piggy-back for travel to remote Wilderness Areas!