Resurrection Bay Cabin Maintenance, Alaska

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14009A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Spend a week in a mossy temperate rainforest in beautiful Resurrection Bay
  • Help preserve the Alaska State Parks' public use cabins for future visitors
  • Watch for various wildlife (e.g., otters, bears, and eagles) in the sea, forests, and air 


  • All on-trip transportation
  • Tools and gloves for our work projects
  • Most meals -- all vegetarian-friendly 


DatesJun 20–26, 2014
StaffRebecca Dameron

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Imagine the view of the North Pacific from a 650-foot-high headland. This will be our view on one of our late-afternoon hikes in the Caines Head State Recreation Area in Resurrection Bay. The bay is on the Kenai Peninsula of southern Alaska and got its name from Alexandr Baranov, the first governor of Russian Alaska.  A merchant sailor, Baranov used the bay as a refuge during a dangerous storm in the late 1700s. The storm ended on Easter Sunday and so the bay was renamed Resurrection Bay. Seward, the main settlement in the bay, was founded in 1903 as the terminus of the Alaska Railway. It is one of the oldest communities in Alaska and is one of the only ice-free ports in Alaska, with various ways of transportation into the interior.

Because of the strategic location of Caines Head, Fort McGilvray was built there during WWII (1941) to defend against a possible invasion by the Imperial Japanese Army. Due to other successful campaigns on the Aleutian Islands, the fort was considered no longer needed and was dismantled in 1944. The fort and the South Beach Garrison are now popular sites for explorers. We’ll take our headlamps and do some exploring for ourselves.

The 6,000 acres of the Caines Head State Recreation Area can be reached by boat and by trail (depending on the tides). There are public use cabins, the fort, a beach garrison, and about 12 miles of trails with spectacular views of the bay, snow-capped mountains, beaches, spruce forests, and the Pacific Ocean. This will be our home for the week while we assist the personnel of the Alaska State Park system in doing maintenance work for the cabins.

The Project

Our project for the week will be staining and sealing the outside of the public use cabins in the Recreation Area and possibly in other areas. The Alaska State Park staff is excited for us to get to this project and possibly others as time permits. Our projects may vary depending on weather and staff priorities. Depending on our projects, we may stay in the cabins or we may use our tents. We will keep our food supplies and gear inside the cabins as much as possible. While not quite in the deep wilderness, we will be in a secluded area, camp wilderness style, and follow Leave No Trace principles.

Our week may include hiking to our work sites or perhaps using a water shuttle. Either way, we’ll be able to watch for forest and sea life and enjoy Resurrection Bay in a myriad of ways.


The trip starts in Anchorage early on the morning of Friday, June 20th (after breakfast on your own) and ends back in Anchorage on the early evening of June 26th. You should plan on arriving in Anchorage two days early to allow for flight and baggage delays. There will be a pre-trip meeting at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 19th. This is a good opportunity to meet the other trip participants and to solve any last-minute equipment challenges.

Day 1: We will depart early Friday morning from Anchorage and travel by van to Seward. The 125-mile trip will offer wonderful sites including Cook Inlet, the Kenai Lake and Mountains, the ghost trees of Girdwood (left by the 1964 earthquake), and possibly Dall sheep or bears (black or brown). We’ll eat lunch on the way (our first on-trip meal). We’ll meet a park specialist in Seward and then take a water shuttle to the landing site near our camping area.  We’ll have time to set up camp and enjoy our setting before dinner.

Days 2-6: Our exact itinerary for the trip will be determined by our service projects and weather conditions. Our plan is to work every day and have the evenings off for hikes and exploration of the area, including Fort McGilvray. We’ll always hike as a group due to possible bear it’s more fun that way.

Day 7: The park specialist will shuttle us back to Seward in the morning. We’ll then head over to the Alaska Sea Life Center, an amazing aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center where we should be able able to see puffins, octopus, sea lions, and other sealife. The cost of entry for this marvelous education is included in the trip price. Lunch will be on your own at one of the many harbor restaurants. We’ll gather at a pre-determined time in the early afternoon to take our shuttle back to Anchorage. Once back in Anchorage, we’ll have time for hot showers and a post-trip (no-host) dinner together. 



Getting There

When you are approved for the trip and the leader informs you the trip has filled sufficiently to run, you may make your airline reservations to Anchorage and start thinking about accommodations there. We'll let you know about possible hotels, bed and breakfasts, or hostels after you sign up. You should try to arrive in Anchorage by June 18, if possible, and no later than the afternoon of June 19. You may schedule your departure for as early as the evening of June 26th or stay longer in this magnificent state for other activities.

Accommodations and Food

We’ll be camping in Caines Head Recreation Area near our work sites. If we’re working on the cabins there, we’ll have the option of bunking in the cabins -- along with our supplies and extra gear. Some people may prefer to camp in their tents nearby.  There’s also a latrine! We’ll get our water from nearby creeks (from the snow pack) and cook our meals over camp stoves.

Sierra Club trips are designed to be a group experience, so expect to participate on a regular basis in meal preparation and clean-up. Meals will be hearty, sustaining, and generally vegetarian. We will work with you to accommodate specific dietary requirements as much as possible given our wilderness setting. However, any dietary restrictions must be discussed in detail with the leader well in advance of the trip. It may be that not all restrictions can be met. The first on-trip meal will be lunch as we travel to Seward and the last trip meal will be breakfast before we head back into Seward on the 26th. We'll also plan a final no-host dinner at an Anchorage restaurant the evening we return.

Trip Difficulty

The work on this trip can be considered moderate to strenuous -- the hiking will probably include some strenuous stretches (due to steepness, slipperiness, rockiness, and narrow trails). No one is expected to exceed his/her capabilities, but all participants will be expected to be able to hike in these conditions. The participants will be asked by the state rangers to sign an additional liability waiver for activities undertaken during the outing.

Temperatures are mild due to maritime influences. During summer months, temperatures range from 40° to 70°, but be prepared for any kind of weather as Resurrection Bay is subject to severe and unpredictable weather. Come with good rain gear and warm layers.

Equipment and Clothing

Once we know more definitively what our projects will be, we’ll know if you have to bring your tent. The preferred plan is to work on the cabins, which would mean that tents won’t be needed. Some people may prefer to tent and that is okay as well -- there is space for that. Either way, you’ll need your sleeping bag and pad. The leader will stay in contact with all registered participants to keep them up to date on the plans. If you do bring your tent, it is essential that it be waterproof. Extended periods of rain are possible, and staying dry can become a serious safety issue. Suggested rain gear is sturdy jacket and pants (coated nylon or Helly Hansen type) versus a poncho. 

Detailed lists of recommended clothing and equipment will be sent to participants after they are approved for the trip. There are no big surprises -- just normal 'Alaska' gear like good rain gear and mosquito headnets. Personal equipment should be thoroughly field-tested before the trip. Do not plan on bringing much cotton clothing as cotton will chill you when wet and refuse to dry in the damp air of the rainforest.



As a frontier, Alaska has been known for its beauty and wildlife: it’s also known for its untapped energy reserves. The Sierra Club has long opposed the prospect of drilling for oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. This struggle continues as another struggle has arisen for drilling in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Coal ash pollution is a concern near Fairbanks and there is a fight to protect Bristol Bay and salmon from the proposed Pebble Mine (gold and copper mining). There are also concerns about preserving native, or “traditional," lands and culture. So what does this have to do with us who are traveling in south-central Alaska? Everything -- if we use oil, coal, and gold. It is ironic that we will be using oil/fuel to be on this trip, but it is important that we see what is in need of protection and be encouraged to work harder and smarter to save this wilderness environment.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.

While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



Rebecca Dameron began her Alaska experience on a Sierra Club sea kayaking service trip to Alaska in 2006 and was hooked. Since then she has led more than 15 service trips in Alaska, North Carolina, and Florida. The beauty and wildness of Alaska has captured her attention and Rebecca hopes to be spending a lot more time exploring more of the state. Rebecca is trained as a Wilderness EMT and hopes not to use her skills!

Assistant Leader:

John Kolman has been backpacking Alaska and the west for more than 30 years, including five recent Sierra Club Alaska outings. He is an avid runner and has completed more than 20 marathons and is active in many Chicago area runners’ groups. He feels that running through a Chicago winter is great preparation for any weather Alaska can throw at you. Besides running, his hobbies include photography and yoga. Currently, John works as a software engineer for a Swiss-based company.

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