After receiving so much support from Anchorage last week, Anchorage GRIT was grateful for the opportunity to give back. We spent the 5th week of our program volunteering at different locations around town and got some great riding in along the way. The group met at Begich Middle School on Saturday and prepared to ride to the Alaska Botanical Gardens. ABG is a great non-profit organization that showcases peaceful paths and gardens for your botanical curiosities! Best of all, ABG is located in the heart of Anchorage and is easily accessible by our trail systems.
Stacey and Will from ABG greeted team GRIT to the gardens and we prepared to get our hands dirty in the Heritage Garden. We learned how to seed beets and peas into the soil, and made quick work of filling the garden with seeds. We even got packs of seeds to take home for our own personal gardens. Stacey then took us on a scavenger hunt that focused on local medicinal plants. Students took turns matching illnesses to local remedies and Stacey showed us how to identify and harvest each plant. Did you know that you can spruce sap can not only be used as an emergency Band-Aid, but also has natural anti-biotic properties? We waived bye to the ABG staff and headed out to ride some dirt trails in the Campbell Tract before returning to Begich.
Monday was spent riding to Off the Chain, another local non-profit that focuses on bicycle education. We learned how OTC sustains itself based on donations and volunteer efforts in order to provide a space where people can learn to fix their own bikes. The girls broke up into teams and we got our hands dirty wrenching on bikes at the shop. We adjusted brake pads, installed new cable and housing, set derailleur limits, and even put a cassette on a wheel. OTC really appreciated all the time the girls spent volunteering at the shop.
Wednesday was a scorcher as far as Anchorage weather is concerned and we got to spend the whole afternoon outside. We rode as a group to Duldida Park in Mountain View and met Michelle, volunteer coordinator at Anchorage Parks and Rec. Together we swept the walkways and picked up trash. Michelle also had us paint decorative etchings in the concrete. Each etching displays the words “PLAY” in different languages along the walkways in the park. After finishing our work, we had a little extra time to play in the park. If you ever are in Mountain View, we would highly recommend stopping by Duldida; it really has the craziest spinning equipment we’ve ever played on!
To get back to school, we rode down the Ship Creek Trail as a group before heading back to our respective schools, a total of 18 miles for the day!
GRIT also used this week to decide, as a group, which capstone trip we will complete. After discussing the challenges and rewards of our options, the girls chose the longest and most difficult option. Next weekend, they will bike from Anchorage out to the Serenity Falls cabin at the end of Eklutna Lake. The mentors are really impressed by the girls’ enthusiasm and cannot wait to share the adventure with you!