Tag Archives: girdwood

North Face Trail at Alyeska Resort

Girdwood, Alaska has some of the best day hiking in all of Alaska. Before heading back to the hostel, I recommend taking a walk through the Alyeska Resort. Half the fun of being a budget traveler is splurging at restaurants like Sakura & Sushi Bar.

Anchorage Daily News offers a great written description of the trail here.

Aquaponics Video: Jackie O Poops on my Salad

The hostel managers at Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn love spinach. With the help of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis the hostel has grown a delicious crop of spinach.

Click here for more info about Weirdo’s Farm and aquaponics

Girdwood Fungus Fair: My Inner Mycologist looked for God

The Girdwood Fungus Fair is this weekend! Let your inner mycologist shine by going on a little adventure in Girdwood’s backyard. There’s nothing like virgins, water, and mushrooms to get the mind misbehaving.

mushroom on Virgin Creek Falls Trail in Girdwood, Alaska

mushroom on Virgin Creek Falls Trail in Girdwood, Alaska

mushroom on Virgin Creek Falls Trail in Girdwood, Alaska

mushroom on Virgin Creek Falls Trail in Girdwood, Alaska

virgin creek falls trail in Girdwood, Alaska

Virgin Creek Falls Trail in Girdwood, Alaska

Virgin Creek Falls Trail in Girdwood, Alaska

I crawled back into the womb.
Not my mother’s womb
nor the girl down the streets womb.
But a sleeping bag
a Moonstone womb.

A Moonstone womb
quite comfortable
sheltered from the breeze
the moonlight.
Enough snacks to last 4 hours
climate controlled 98.6
almost like moms.

Curled up in an embryo ball
eyes closed
ready to receive Freudian like dreams
I relax.

Back of my eyelids begin to dance.
Visions not Sigmund.
Visions of weird colorful shapes.
A vision of figures not demons or spirits.
People melting, ordinary people
like you and me.
A nude 3 inch girl flies with fairy like motion.
Her cheeks pulsate rosy red.
She says only two words in a familiar Beatle accent
“Hello, Good-bye.”
She melts into the black void.
My hands reach out
I hit the Moonstone womb wall.

I realize my eyes are open
this is reality not a dream.
I stick my head outside
I feel the breeze,
I see the pines,
Moon’s still bright,
rocks still solid
Mother Earth reality.

I hiked along the creek to experience nature.
I prayed to God for a blessing.
I ate his flesh.

I slip back into the Moonstone womb.
Outside reality already forgotten.
Inside this bizarre sleeping bag size microcosm
I fall asleep afraid.

Afraid that my Moonstone womb
will abort my fragile mind,
caesarean section it,
or birth it breech.

$20 I thought I was buying a new healthy respect for
God and its universe.
$20 I bought a new healthy respect for
Moonstone sleeping bag.

Crazy the way God mysteriously works.

Rafting Glacier Creek with Alaska Backcountry Access

Girdwood is full of outdoor adventure opportunities. If you’re not sure where to start, check with Andy at Alaska Backcountry Access. He has already taken care of all the planning, gear and safety for your next Alaskan adventure.


Amy, Andy, Marie, Dee, and Elizabeth ready for a beautiful rainforest hike to Glacier River


gearing up in comfy dry suits provided by Alaska Backcountry Access


Glacier River flows right through the heart of Girdwood and offers spectacular views of waterfalls, mountains and glaciers

photo opportunity! don't worry...Elizabeth did wear a helmet and Dee didn't paddle too much

eady to raft Glacier Creek in Girdwood, Alaska, Andy operates Alaska Backcountry Access and offers a great combination of fun, adventure and safety in the wilds of Alaska

Andy operates Alaska Backcountry Access in Girdwood, Alaska and offers a great combination of fun, adventure and safety in the wilds of Alaska

Alaska Backcountry Access is easy to find, right next to World Cup, in downtown Girdwood, Alaska

Alaska Backcountry Access is easy to find, right next to World Cup, in downtown Girdwood, Alaska

Dedicating Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn to friendship, joy and hospitality

Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn ice cream social and open house August 2009

Read by Pastor Jim Doepken of Girdwood Chapel at GABI’s grand opening party and first annual Ice Cream Social and Open House:

We have gathered here today to bless the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn, to dedicate this hostel to friendship and understanding, and to ensure peace be with this hostel and all who visit here.

We dedicate this hostel to the Hostelling International mission statement: To help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling.

We dedicate this hostel to the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn mission statement: To help all, especially the young at heart, gain a greater understanding of the joys of living a frugal, thrifty and creative life.

We light a candle to friendship.
May good food and great ideas be shared and the individuality of each person who visits here appreciated.
May all who come and share in fellowship in this room weave a
strong cloth together, binding the strings of friendship and companionship.
May we keep up with friends through the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn Facebook fan page. 🙂

We light a candle to joy.
May joy and peace surround you, contentment latch your door, may your troubles be less, and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your front door.
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies, and quick to make friends. But rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

We light a candle to hospitality.
Let us share the hospitality of this hostel with all who visit, that those who enter here may know friendship and peace. Let this be a place where neighbors, family, friends and strangers gather to rejoice in life and to enjoy fellowship with one another.

We light a candle to appreciation.
We dedicate this hostel to the appreciation of all things good and true.
May there always be work for your hands to do – may your purse always hold a coin or two – may the sun always shine warm on your windowpane – may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain – may the hand of a friend always be near you – and may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

We light a candle to creativity.
May the books bring wisdom, the pictures symbolize things beautiful, and the music bring joy and inspiration.
May the hostel blogs inspire laughter, poetry, music and creative comments.

We light a candle to healthy spinach.
May the fish named Jackie O, eat, excrete and fertilize healthy spinach for Brandon to harvest and feed to hungry visitors.

We light a candle to peace.
May all who enter feel peace within and show peace without, living in harmony with others and in balance with the rhythms of nature. May we all walk peacefully on this Earth as we travel together around the Sun.

Irish Blessing: Bless this hostel. Make it safe by night and day. Bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping want and trouble out. Bless the roof and chimney tall, let thy peace lie over all. Bless the hearth and bless the board, and bless each place of rest. Bless each door that opens wide to strangers and to kin. And bless each crystal window pane that lets the starlight in.

May you always be blessed; with walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, a warm cup of tea by the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all that your heart may desire –old Gaelic blessing.

Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn hostel dedication

Brandon thanks the community of Girdwood and introduces Jim Doepken

Brandon thanks the community of Girdwood and introduces Jim Doepken

Amy hula hooping with Vera Crews, president of the HI-Alaska council

Amy hula hooping with Vera Crews, president of the HI-Alaska council

Isaac and the Awkward Situations

Isaac and the Awkward Situations

Pretty Birds that Kill

Pretty Birds that Kill

Thanks to the travelers and locals of all ages who attended GABI’s first annual ice cream social! Thanks also to The Ice Cream Shop, Coast Pizza, and Glacier Valley Coffee for providing delicious snacks. Big thanks to Isaac and the Awkward Situations and Pretty Birds that Kill for fun music.

A Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn guest writes to Mr. Smith at the Turnagain Times

TO: Ken Smith

I greatly enjoyed your Turnagain Times article about the new Girdwood Alaska Backbacker Inn. I am almost 68 and had the opportunity to stay there the past two days and enjoy the charming town of Girdwood, Alaska.
Single seniors today are also travelers and learning about the world and hosteling as a way of travel. I have been a member of Hosteling International (HI) since 1986 and over the years stayed at hostels in the U.S., Thailand, Nepal, throughout Latin America, Canada, and Europe. The real joy of hosteling is meeting people from many places, learning about their lives and cultures, getting ideas about which direction to go next and sharing the same with fellow hostelers. Hostels provide a safe, clean, and friendly environment plus a kitchen to cook and enjoy meals together. Sharing dorms with people of the same sex encourages a comfortable, respectful travel style.
Hosteling International (HI), a non-profit organization, was founded 100 years ago; the beautiful new Girdwood hostel is a perfect example of a hostel well managed by enthusiastic and committed managers, Amy and Brandon. They add creative environmental awareness as well as plans for art and music workshops. They taught me about worm composting, aquaponics, and other environmental practices.
I hope your article will bring more awareness to travelers of all ages and backgrounds. Hosteling is no longer just for the young – it is for people of all ages who are interested in learning about our beautiful world and all its people.

Jeanne Devine, a long-term HI member from Tempe, Arizona

Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn made it to Print in the Turnagain Times

International Hostel opens its doors in Old Girdwood
Eco-friendly backpackers inn can accommodate up to 30 people

New Girdwood Hostel
Ken Smith/Turnagain Times
The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn opened its doors in Old Girdwood on July 4. It is an eco-friendly designed two-story inn that can accommodate up to 30 occupants, offering dormitory and private rooms.

By Ken Smith
Turnagain Times

Girdwood is an ever-growing year-round destination for independent travelers from around the world. There are countless B&B’s, and, of course, The Hotel Alyeska at the ski resort. However, one thing truly lacking in the community has been a spacious and affordable accommodation for budget minded travelers, particularly backpackers.

Now, Girdwood has one. After nearly six months of major renovations and reconstruction, the Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn opened its doors on July 4. What was once a dilapidated building is now an appealing and quaint two-story inn, with a green metal roof, freshly painted red exterior and eggshell trim, and wrap-around porches on each floor.

The inn is located in the Old Girdwood Town Site behind the Tesoro Mall at the end of Gold Street adjacent to Glacier Creek. It is a very private location with plenty of space, something neighbors will appreciate during days when the maximum capacity of 30 occupants is reached.

“We started gutting the building in January 2009,” said Jamie Boring, co-owner of the inn. “We’ll never be completely finished. The goal is to educate and promote sustainable construction and energy efficiency.”

Boring, 40, along with his business partner Armand Nyborg, also own the Alaska Backpackers Inn in downtown Anchorage, which opened in May 2007 and has 109 beds.

Ultimately, Boring expects to have five hostels across the state: in Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, Talkeetna and Homer.

But right now his focus is Girdwood.

“I have children, and they’re going to start traveling, and this is a great way to see the world economically and meet other people,” he said.

The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn is affiliated with Hostelling International USA and must meet strict guidelines to operate.

“If you don’t know how to run a business then the Hostelling International is great because they teach you how to run a safe and clean, secure hostel,” Boring said.

Three-and-a-half percent of gross revenues is paid back to Hostelling International USA as a fee for affiliation.

Boring is a self-taught builder and developer and he’s chosen the eco-friendly route for designing the Girdwood hostel for both economic and educational reasons. He’s also chosen to build and run hostels because they’re a good businesses to own in a state like Alaska.

“The Anchorage hostel has seen a 100 percent increase in revenue every year,” he said. “It can be a profitable business. I hope what happens because of the H.I. affiliation is that travelers will come to Alaska because they’re good hostels.”

Boring also anticipates that the Girdwood hostel will generate revenue for local businesses.

The room rates in Girdwood are reasonably priced at $25 per person per night for dorm rooms and private rooms start at $50 per night. The rates will stay the same year-round with a seven day maximum stay.

Boring believes the low rates for rooms leaves occupants with more disposable money that they’ll spend at local businesses like Coast Pizza and the Ice Cream Shop, both located in the Tesoro Mall and a few minutes walking distant from the hostel.

Boring estimates that his Anchorage hostel guests have spent an average of $2 million at downtown businesses based on the number of beds and an average spending of $65 per person per day. And he expects the same results in Girdwood.

Aside from the business end of things, Boring is striving to create a hostel that is eco-friendly.

He started by using recycled material for the rugs and used recycled paints. Energy efficiency is also being stressed in the use of appliances, plumbing and lighting.

“We’re in the process of submitting an application for LEED, a natural standard for eco-energy efficiency building,” Boring said as we toured the inn.

Hot water base board heating was used in the building for 95 percent efficiency, and he used soy-based foam insulation. He also used a system of lighting that allows for both LED lighting and traditional light bulbs.

“The idea is that if we ever want to switch to solar or wind, we can use the majority of the lights on that system,” he said.

And not to be overlooked are the eco-friendly toilets, which utilize a two-button flushing system, allowing for selecting flushing to save water.

As of now there is no television in the building, but when one is added it will be operated by a hand crank or pedal crank, so when the TV is on, get ready to earn every program viewed with some cardiovascular activity.

“Our goal is to set it up the hostel like a school, so people can see how things work,” said Boring.

Even the sink will be an educational piece. Under it, water will be caught and measured to gauge the amount of water being used. And there will be measuring systems set up on all non-essential appliances and lights to monitor electrical usage.

The educational theme is geared towards all the occupants, ages 12-60.

The rooms are also designed for various age groups and budgets with two dormitory rooms designated for females and male occupants and seven private rooms. Dormitory rooms have eight beds, geared mainly towards teenagers or school groups.

The walls, floors and carpets are all artistically presented with flowing lines and abstract designs. Guests of the dorms are encouraged to create their own art on the walls.

The downstairs is a spacious room with a large spruce carved bar big enough to seat ten people, and the wrap around porches provide large open-air space for socializing and eating.

The building is quite the contrast from what stood there before. What was once a dark and dreary duplex, is now a warm, aesthetically pleasing addition to the neighborhood.

“We’ve provided a hostel with clean, comfortable, creative space,” said Amy Johnson, who co-manages the hostel with her companion Brandon Follett, both 33 years old, who live in an adjacent apartment at the inn. “Basically we don’t have a TV. We thought that cooking is creative, so we provided a full kitchen. We have provided an educational learning center. We have aquaponics to provide food fertilizer for plants, and we grow spinach, basil and broccoli.”

The concept is to not only design a building that is compatible with the grandeur and beauty of its surroundings, but also reflect the community itself.

“Girdwood is a very creative town,” Follet said. “Part of the goal is to compliment the community. This is a creative valley, there’s a lot of art, the community garden, outdoor music with the Forest Fair. We want to have open mic and music at the hostel as part of the long-term plan, and educational workshops and speakers.”

Johnson and Follet started working at the hostel July 1, but with the summer winding down, they would now like to meet members of the community and introduce them to the inn. An open house is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information call 727-4678. The hostel’s web site is: www.hostelgirdwood.com.

LEED Certification UPDATE

Average Betty inspires Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn adventure

Average Betty eats Macaroni and Cheese

Average Betty eats Macaroni and Cheese. Click photo to watch episode.

If you’re a fan of iced tea, Betty has some exciting news! Average Betty has teamed up with Tazo Tea and Edelman PR to give three lucky AverageBetty.com readers a sweet Tazo Iced Tea Kit! This cool Kit includes a large glass pitcher, an assortment of fine Tazo Teas, a bottle of raw agave sugar, and a Tazo Tea recipe book! Would you like to win one of these awesome Tazo Tea Kits?

1. In the Average Betty comment section, describe your perfect glass of iced tea. Is it sweetened? Unsweetened? Black tea? Green tea? Flavored? Lemon? Straw? Ice?
2. Next, describe the perfect sandwich to go with your perfect glass of iced tea. Is it turkey or tofu? What kind of bread? Don’t forget the condiments…
3. For bonus points, describe where you are enjoying this perfect combination of ice cold tea and sandwich nirvana. Are you at the beach or on your couch at home?
To enter the contest CLICK HERE

Here is GABI’s favorite iced tea and sandwich combination, enjoyed on the balcony at Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn, of course!

Bicycle riding and Blueberry eating

Bicycle riding and Blueberry eating

Pick blueberries along the bicycle path towards Alyeska Resort. The blueberries make a delicious unsweetened iced tea.

Salmon fishing 35ft away from GABI

Salmon fishing 35ft away from GABI

35ft from the hostel, a salmon is caught in Glacier River. Throw it on the grill to become an Asian Grilled Salmon Sandwich.

Enjoying the 2nd story GABI deck

Enjoy the 2nd story GABI deck

view from balcony at Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

view from balcony at Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

Sit in a big comfy chair on the second story deck that overlooks the Turnagain Arm. Enjoy views of snow peaked mountains, the calm peaceful water, watch bald eagles fly and make plans for another Average Betty inspired Girdwood, Alaska adventure.

Tazo Tea will be a nice compliment to an all ready beautiful hostel.

Tazo Tea will be a nice complement to an already beautiful hostel.

Beware of Girdwood’s Blueberry Worm

blueberry bush along bike path in Girdwood, Alaska

The blueberries are looking delicious on the bike path to Alyeska Resort. The neighbor suggests I soak the blueberries in water to remove the worms. I have eaten a lot of blueberries raw and haven’t gotten any worms. Either I lucked out and don’t have a belly full of worms or the worms don’t like my latest diet of black beans and cheese. Do any of you have the blueberry worms?

Check out the Alyeska Resort Blueberry Mountain Art and Music Festival

Here is a poem I wrote about Jack, The Modern Latter Day Saint. He is not a blueberry worm but a tape worm. I hope you get hungry and feed your inner worm.

Jack the Tapeworm A Modern Latter Day Saint

Night-light turned on.
The overhead light turned off.
Veronica crawls in
between two sheets.

She dreams
Ronald McDonald squirts
ketchup and mustard
between her beefy buns.

Suddenly she’s awakened
by a Knock Knock.
Perched on her chest
a tiny worm.
A stern voice
accentuated by a stern look
“Hello, I’m Jack the Tapeworm
a modern latter day saint.
Your fantasy for a man
dressed in a clown suit
and appetite for dead animals
has brought me here tonight.
These lustful desires
have cast a dark shadow
over your vegetarian upbringing.
Your diet
and subconscious
do not reflect
the two truths of herbivores:
do unto others as they would
do unto you
karma comes back around.

You have a choice
repent or face a life of damnation.
If you repent
you will meet a man who will
smother your sex with grapes, strawberries, and cherries.
If you choose a life of damnation
assume your physical fantasies
will only be found
in an internet chat room.
As far as the environment goes,
you’ll become a self imposed
obese statistic
who takes up precious space.”

Veronica starts to sob,
“Oh Jack! Oh Jack!
What must I do
to absolve my godless transgressions?”

The little tapeworm
in a now
pleasant voice replies,
“Swallow me whole
I’ll make your body miserable
feeding off your meat
like the cow made into a
sinfully slaughtered slab.”

And she swallows him whole.

When Veronica’s mind
has gone mad
in visions of love for body and life
Jack crawls out
of her frazzled body.

He slowly makes his way
to her chest.
Knock Knock.
In that still pleasant but weaker voice
he speaks,
“I’m ready to die
you’ve seen the right light.
Remember if your man’s expression
is expressed in mayo and Heinz
these condiments will literally
smother your heart.
Remember a man’s dollar
never amounts to a mass produced life.
only create a
compliment to strife.”
Jack the Tapeworm
a modern latter day saint
takes in one last gasp
of air
to finish his thought.
“Life is cyclical
please make me happy.
I want to be reborn
in newfound beauty.”

And she swallows him whole.

Thank You Hostelling International

What you carry a half naked picture of Charles in your pocket and can recite his poetry!?!?!

What? You carry a half naked picture of Charles in your pocket AND can recite his poetry!?

We found this fabulous write up about GABI on the HI Northern California Hostels website.

On July 1, a new Hostelling International hostel opened its doors in Girdwood, Alaska, with the facilities inside nearly as impressive as the scenery outside. Located 45 minutes southeast of Anchorage, Girdwood entices visitors from around the world with spectacular mountains, meadows, and rivers, along with world-class skiing. The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn (GABI) makes it possible to experience the Chugach mountain area, whether by hiking, rafting, or paragliding, on a bicycle or a rainforest canopy zipline, at a fraction of the cost of any other accommodation in this resort town.

The hostel has been constructed with eco-friendliness as a top priority, utilizing the “most recycled, locally produced materials available in Alaska.” Guests will see sustainability at work throughout the hostel, with its dual light switches, dual flushing toilets, and user-controlled water flow showers. The facilities essentially allow hostellers to control the amount of water and electricity that they use at a given time, enabling them to minimize wasted resources. The hostel is truly ambitious in their sustainability aims — they are hoping to achieve LEED certification.

However, being sustainable doesn’t mean skimping on atmosphere. GABI as a full kitchen, beautiful common room, Weirdo’s Farm and is decorated throughout with colorful art done on site by local artists — not just on the walls, but the floors, too! The hostel also offers a 10% discount if certain items are presented upon check-in, including a Charles Potts poem, vegetables from a farmers market, or a self-published ‘zine. Dorm beds are $25 nightly and private rooms are $50 — without a doubt the best deal in town.

The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn is located off the Seward Highway, easily accessible by public transportation, and is biking distance from Anchorage. The convenience and the low price mean that more travelers can now enjoy the astounding natural beauty of the area.