Hiring Excellent People

Every summer, mid way through the season, I’ve been saying “we have the best staff, we can’t top this team!” but each year we manage to get another batch of amazing guides. Being a small company every person matters and plays an important part in our tours operating smoothly and making our guests happy. It is crucial to have employees who work hard as a team with a smile on their face! Our guides believe in our tour and mission. Last year our Tripadvisor reviews exploded with comments and compliments from our guests about how friendly and knowledgeable their guides were. So how do you find these outstanding employees through the hundreds of applicants? Here are a few things we look for when reading through resumes and a list of tips to hiring super star workers!

Before the Interview:

  • Ask for resumes only. If an applicant sends a resume complete with cover letter and references then you know they are serious and care enough about the position to take the time to sit down and put their information together.
  • Cover letters are very revealing. In just a short paragraph you can tell a lot about a person by their writing style and what they choose to focus their letter on. Look for why they want to work for your business and why they would be the best candidate for the position. Watch out for sob stories that tell you too much like “It’s been hard finding a job” or blank statements that won’t tell you much like “It would be fun.” Good grammar is a plus too!
  • Resumes should have strong customer service background. Even if the applicant  has limited experience their training, extra curricular activities, volunteer work or awards/honors might be relevant knowledge to the job. Look for the places they have been employed, how long they worked there, what skills they learned and why they left.

Once you’ve read through all the resumes and cover letters of your potential employees narrow down your list of the strongest contenders for the position to set up an interview.

During the Interview:

  • Look for the nicest people you can find. Our motto has always been “hire the friendliest guides – you can train them on the rest but you can’t train them to be friendly people.” When meeting someone for the first time you want them to have personality and feel comfortable talking.
  • Ask “power questions.” The difficult questions are often the most telling so don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions during an interview such as “What do you think your weaknesses employee are?” “How do you handle or address stressful situations or conflict within the work space?” or “What are you looking forward to most working for our company?” Giving examples from previous jobs is important to communicating what experience they can bring to the table and how they think through difficult or demanding circumstances.
  • Have they done their research? Be sure to ask “Why they want to work for you?” Their answer should demonstrate that they know your business and what you are all about!
  • Get a second opinion. Have a manager or partner conduct the initial interview and offer a second interview to only those top-notch applicants. Sometimes you uncover qualities or characteristics in a second interview or a different interviewer will have a varying perspective. Then the two interviewers can compare opinions of the applicant and if they would be a good fit. Two heads are better than one!

Always try to meet for the first interview in person. Skype is an excellent way to have a face-to-face connection with someone even from another location. When thinking of hiring an individual consider how they will fit within the team dynamic. Follow your gut and if you see any red flags listen to the warning signs. Sometimes someone will have a great interview but they will have one unsettling thing that sticks out. From my experience, whenever I’ve gone out on a limb and didn’t heed to my instinct, I’ve struggled with that employee.

After the Interview:

  • Be sure to take time to call references. Have what areas you want a previous supervisor or employer to expand upon ready to go.
  • Personal referrals from returning or existing staff, friends, teachers or family are a great way to get awesome applicants. However, be sure you treat these applicants just like anyone else who is wanting the job and have them go through the application/interviewing process. Don’t offer handouts.
  • Snatch up the good ones! If you have an applicant who hits a home run during the interview process be sue to let them know right away you want them for the position and send an official offer letter. If you wait too long  another employer may come along and steal away your potential employee and you don’t want that!

Set your expectations high from the beginning, clearly informing your staff through extensive training and followup meetings that outline the company policies and their specific tasks and responsibilities. Be sure to have a disciplinary plan for any infractions and  if there are issues address them immediately and professionally. Provide a fun work environment, people want to enjoy what they do. Offer incentives or friendly competitions to keep your staff motivated and dependable.

Happy hiring! And here is link to our crew that you can check out on our website! We will be getting a bunch of new faces in April so stay tuned!

- Gin AndersonIMG_0929IMG_1003

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings – Part 3

Being More Eco-Friendly: AZA’s Personal Commitment to Sustainability & the Eco-Traveler

Many people are making greater efforts to be more “green” each year and finding ways to be more environmentally conscious. There are so many creative and simple ways to be more Earth-friendly such as recycling magazines by donating them to your gym, unplugging appliances after use, biking to work, growing a garden, taking a travel mug with you to the coffee shop, or turning the heat down a few degrees and throwing on a sweater. Or perhaps being a more eco-friendly traveler and visiting destinations that are restored or certified. Having an active role toward sustainability at home, work, in the community or your personal life is a goal everyone should take to heart throughout the year.

At Alaska Zipline Adventures being an Eco-Tour means more to our company than just picking up garbage on our grounds or having recycle containers available, which is why we go through the effort each season to track and analyze our goals to evaluate and further our sustainability policy. We sincerely want Sustainable Travel International’s stamp of approval to signify our continued commitment to the environment rather than a nice badge for our website! Here some of our guidelines we follow to determine our goals each year:

  • AZA, as a small tour business, is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.
  • AZA will develop sustainable habits by setting goals, creating a plan, following through and taking responsibility for any and all actions.
  • Annual monitoring and analysis will be established to ensure continual improvements through corrective and preventive measures.
  • AZA will encourage eco-conscious practices and education with all partners, employees and guests.
  • AZA will adhere to any legal requirements to which the company subscribes, related to it’s environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects.
  • In addition to sustaining a successful business, AZA is committed to being good stewards of the community and environment through service projects and philanthropy efforts.

For 2013 our primary goal was to reduce our paper consumption by using digital waivers. Through a great electronic waiver company called WaiverApps we were able to decrease our paper waste by 5,000 sheets of paper! We were so thrilled with the simplicity and convenience of having our participants sign their waivers online though a computer or tablet. If any tour business or guiding service are in need of a digital waiver check out WaiverApps.

Looking ahead to our upcoming season, we would like to set out to prepare to complete an on-site inspection through Sustainable Travel International and achieve Silver Level of certification, find a solution to accurately track water usage throughout the months of operation and attend any sustainable educational and training events for principal “Green Team” members.

What are your “green” goals for the year? How about to be an Eco-tourist!! Here are a few simple ideas to be more green when packing for a trip or exploring a new place:

  1. Choose a destination that is dedicated to environmental protection and limiting their footprint on the land.
  2. Book a hotel or B&B that has incorporated eco-friendly practices and is eco-certified.
  3. Use mineral based sunscreen to protect the ocean from harmful chemicals.
  4. Bring reusable water bottles for drinking, bags for shopping and utensils for cooking.
  5. Maintain “Leave No Trace Behind” ethics when hiking or camping.
  6. Charge your phones and electronic devices with a solar charger.
  7. And support local vendors and businesses when you are traveling!

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Let’s pledge to help make our world a little bit better everyday. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and I enjoyed writing this 3-part series.

- Gin Anderson

Alaskan Photography Tips

Do you have an Alaskan adventure planned for this summer? If so, there’s a good chance one thing you’re going to pack is a camera of some sort. Whether they use a cell phone, GoPro, DSLR, or vintage Polaroid, few people can visit this amazing state without snapping a few photos to commemorate their journey. Here are a few tips to help make sure you get the most out your photography on your trip.

I STILL don't know why all these people were taking pictures of me.

(Image by Jeff Vanuga)

Set a few basic goals. This will help you determine what you should bring and how you should plan your trip. What do you want to get out of your camera during your visit?  Do you just want to post some pictures to Facebook and Instagram to make all your friends jealous of your awesome adventure? If so, a cell phone is all you need.Do you want to put together a nice calendar to send out as Christmas gifts? Then you might want to look into a “bridge” or “advanced compact” camera. These cameras are lightweight and easy to use like a traditional point-and-shoot, but allow for more control over exposure settings, and their lenses have a larger zoom range. Do you want to become YouTube famous by posting a video of yourself ziplining (or whitewater rafting, or mountain biking)? Then a GoPro would be a great camera to bring along. If you’re signed up with any adventure tour operators, you might want to contact them and make sure your GoPro will be compatible with their helmets or other gear. Or if you have some more advanced, time-intensive photography goals – shooting wildlife or wilderness landscapes, for instance – then you will want to bring along an SLR camera, a carefully chosen selection of lenses, and all the necessary accessories such as a tripod and remote shutter release. You will also want to spend plenty of time researching the best places and times of day to photograph potential subjects.

No matter what your photography goals are for your Alaskan vacation, a little bit of planning will go a long way towards making sure you come back with some great photos.

Practice makes perfect. A trip to Alaska is a great reason to invest in some new photography gear. But don’t wait until you arrive in Alaska to start using your new camera! You never know when that decisive moment that you want to capture is going to happen, but when it does, you won’t have time to consult your manual to figure what settings you should be using. Even if you have a user-friendly point-and-shoot camera, there are a few things you will want to learn before you actually start pointing and shooting. The best way to learn everything about your camera is to use it in a variety of situations shooting lots of different subjects. Want to photograph bald eagles? Try taking pictures of whatever birds land in your backyard. Want to get a stunning image of an Alaskan sunset? Find a local park or other rural area and try to capture some great landscapes close to home. Even if you think your hometown isn’t as visually interesting as the Great White North, the skills you learn practicing at home will help make your Alaskan images that much  more beautiful.

Image by Petr Kratochvil

Image by Petr Kratochvil

Bring a CLEAN memory card. So you took our advice and expanded your skills by practicing with your camera at home. Now your memory card is full of pictures of your neighbor’s dog and the sun setting over the local park. Get all those pictures off of your camera BEFORE you come to Alaska. You don’t want to snap a photo of an amazing scene only to see “MEMORY CARD FULL” flash across your LCD. Take a little bit of time to figure out the best way to get all those photos off of your camera. There are a huge number of programs out there to help you catalog and process your photos, but the basic idea is always the same: 1.) Get rid of the photos that look terrible and don’t have any potential, and 2.) Put all the photos that you want to keep and/or work on somewhere you’ll be able to find them later. Whether we like it or not, a lot of photos we take are just not keepers. This isn’t a reflection of our photography skills; you may often take several photos just to figure out the best settings for a scene. As a result, poorly exposed or blurry images can pile up on your memory card. I usually like to delete these directly off of my camera as soon as possible.   Don’t fret about deleting these images. As long as you keep some of the photos that you know are better, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Have fun! This seems like a no-brainer, but the whole reason you’re coming to Alaska is to have the experience of a lifetime, so make sure your photography isn’t getting in the way of that. Everyone has a different definition of fun. Some people might not even want to think about toting a camera around, much less spend a significant portion of their vacation looking through a viewfinder. For others, the thought of waking up before dawn and sitting in the cold for hours just to get that perfect sunrise image is not boring but exhilirating. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Think about how your camera can enhance your own experiences as well as those of your family and friends with you in Alaska or enjoying vicariously from home. And keep that camera on you. You never know when Alaska is going to reveal a once-in-a-lifetime moment!

- Davy Anderson

New Beginnings – Part 2

Get Outdoors: Just Do It!

Even though we are well into the new year there is no moment like the present for making change, taking on challenges, setting goals or trying something new. Setting short term achievable goals and reevaluating your progress is important to success! While in the waiting room at the doctor’s office for a post knee surgery check up the nurse and I were casually talking about resolutions for the New Year and she confessed having always wanted to sign up to run a half marathon. I immediately replied, “You should!” Once committing to a goal I like to tell everyone – friends, co-workers, family, the bank teller or cashier at the grocery store. Having support is key to getting across the finish line!

Wanting to be healthier, more active or getting outside seems to be at the top of the list for many people when making changes in their lives. The gyms are more packed and people switch to skim milk in their coffee and skip the sugar once January 1st rolls around. Enjoying the outdoors and making time to take advantage of all the outdoor activities available in Juneau (and there are many: hiking, running, biking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, rock & ice climbing, skiing & snowboarding, camping, hunting, bon fires on the beach and so much more) is a personal goal for me this year. Naturally you would think being an owner of a zipline tour spending all day outside is part of the business (and yes, there are many times we get to be in the trees guiding tours) but as most people know sometimes work, family and life get busy and having time to do the things we love becomes less and less. One of the best reasons to live in Southeast Alaska is the amazing accessibility to the outdoors. Our backyard is a giant playground, just waiting to be explored!

Here are three of my favorite outdoorsy hobbies and some excellent resources for participating in these activities here in Juneau:

There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails literally out our backdoor. If you want to sneak in a quick hike after work, climb a peak or backpack to an overnight cabin on the weekend, Juneau has it all! There are short walks down to the beach, established routes around glaciers or rugged, off-the-beaten paths to the top of a mountain. Whichever hike you adventure upon their are two excellent references to choosing a trail: 90 Short Walks Around Juneau trail guide and the Trail Mix website (www.juneautrails.org). Don’t be fooled by the title, 90 Short Walks Around Juneau includes every hiking trail in the Juneau area! Written by local naturalist Mary Lou King (her grandchildren were zipline guides for Alaska Zipline Adventures!!), the guide provides trail information, topographical maps, and drawings of plants and animals and is the perfect size to take along in your pack with you. Proceeds from the book benefit Trail Mix, a non-profit organization which  cares for Juneau’s trails. Trail Mix not only focusses on maintaining and rebuilding trails but their website is a great online source for hiking in Juneau. Their page offers details about each trail including recommended season, difficulty level and trail condition as well bear and hiking safety tips. So grab your pack and trekking poles and go hike!

Running is year round in Juneau and often you see your friends and neighbors getting in their daily runs along the roadways. The winter season doesn’t stop people from hitting the pavement, just add an extra layer, hat and gloves. Southeast Alaska Roadrunners has built a community of runners by contributing to local racing events, training programs, high school cross-country teams and supporting the overall sport of running in Juneau. Their online race calendar highlights all the events taking place each month throughout the year complete with race details, contact information and registration forms. And if you are looking to fulfill your New Year’s wish to run a half or full marathon then sign up for the Frank Maier Memorial Marathon and Douglas Island Half Marathon held on July 27, 2014! Plenty of time to log some miles and train! I ran the Half Marathon in 2010 and loved the easy out and back road route and impressed with all the volunteer aid stations, local cheerleaders and  finish at Sandy Beach with excellent BBQ to refuel!

For the all the snow lovers, Juneau is lucky to have their very own ski area with 4 lifts, over 32 runs and the most stunning views you’ll ever find! Throughout the holidays I was helping Mountain Lift Coffee,  a little shop inside the day lodge, make espresso for all the chilly skiers and snowboarders and realized how awesome Eaglecrest Ski Area is. There is something for everyone! For the novice skier, the whole month of January is dedicated to learning to ski with specials and deals to help you graduate from the Bunny Hill. For the advanced skiers and snowboarders, there is excellent backcountry and black diamond terrain to discover. For the nordic skiers, there is a groomed cross country area at the base of the mountain perfect for a good workout. And for the parent with a kid in lessons or on the ski team, there is a warm lodge with Wifi, tasty food and coffee to wait and stay cozy in! The cherry on top is that there is usually loads of snow, a short drive from downtown and is super affordable with lesson  packages, rental shop and lift passes. There are two and half months left of the season so it is not too late to add “learning to ski” or “ski more” to your list of belated resolutions.

Being outdoors is more than just a pastime, it is a way of life in Juneau! So get outdoors this year!

- Gin Anderson

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New Beginnings – Part 1

Conquering Fear: Sometimes You Need a Little Push

On the very last day of the 2013 tour season, as I watched the last bunch of zippers walk down the trail into the trees to embark on their zipline journey, I stepped out of the van and twisted my knee, tearing my ACL. What a way to wrap up the summer with knee surgery but I was very grateful to be injured after the season to have time to recover and rest. It has been two months post surgery, with tons of physical therapy and mile stones along the way, like being able to tie my own shoes to walking  up and down the stairs. While on the stationary bike today I started thinking about fear. I finally graduated from strengthening my legs on the recumbent bike to the upright bike and as I sat their trying to work my knee around the pedals, a flood of fear and uncertainty entered my mind. Thoughts such as “I can’t do it!” to “What if it hurts?” or “What if I fall off?” and I realized that these are the same feelings that some of our guests have when getting up to the first platform to zip through the trees. Heights has never been a phobia for me but in that moment I understood the intense emotions some of our zipline guests work through. Fear had taken over and I almost ditched the bike and got off. My mind finally jumped the hurdle and I began biking! Buried in the back of my mind I knew I could do it all along but it was those initial feelings of fear that felt so debilitating. The sense of accomplishment getting passed being afraid was so rewarding!

With the start to the New Year upon us and everyone jotting down lists of resolutions to try and keep throughout the year, I wanted to dedicate a few posts to some important goals for me and our zipline business: Conquering Fear, Getting Outdoors and Being More Eco-Friendly.

One of my favorite memories from the past summer was when a women from California, Connie, accompanied her good friend on a trip to Alaska. She was very afraid of heights but wanted to give it a go and try ziplining. When Connie returned back to the lodge opting out of the tour there were some tears and feelings of disappointment. My staff and I were very reassuring and understanding but she just kept saying over and over “I know I could do it! I just didn’t want to make anyone wait, I just know I could do it!” I asked her, “Do you want to give it another try, just us? I will put on my gear and we can get you up there, we would be happy to!” She agreed! So myself and another guide (that had finished up their tours for the day but happen to be in the lodge) put on some gear and took our adventurous friend back to the top of the first zipline. It took about 15 minutes, working through some tears, lots of deep breaths and tons of encouraging words but she did it! Her knuckles were white from gripping the handlebars so tight and I’m pretty sure her eye were closed but as we watched Connie zip away we were both smiling and thrilled to be part of helping her take on her fear. After the tour Connie gave me a huge hug. She had a wonderful time with her friend, created some lasting memories and conquered a fear. We get people every day scared to take that first step off the edge of the platform and sometimes those guests just need a little push, some coaching and cheering. And sometimes it is just enough for them to climb the steps and look down the cable and that’s ok too! But if you’re looking for a fear tackling strategy or some techniques toward courage, I read a recent article on the Huffington Post website that listed some excellent ways to “loosen the grip of fear on your life” (and can be applied to anything, not just fear of heights or spiders but maybe being afraid of confrontation or saying no).

  1. Acknowledge Your Fears – Sometimes saying aloud or writing down what you are afraid of can make overcoming a fear seem more reachable. “I’m afraid of heights! No big deal!”
  2. Be Vulnerable and Expose Yourself to Your Fears – Putting yourself in a situation to face your fear is the first step to triumph and a courageous undertaking all on it’s own. “I’m going to sign up for a zipline tour and try dealing with my fear of heights! It’s going to be fun!” 
  3. Practice Courageous Acts – It isn’t just enough to say your going to confront your fears, you have to put your words into action. Make a conscience effort to take on the fear, knowing it won’t be easy but with the goal of succeeding. “I’m really nervous right now but I am going to get in my zipline gear and get to the top of the first platform! Baby steps!”
  4. Think Positively – Fears loves company with such feelings as negativity, uncertainty or failure but power through, chanting a mantra of “You can do it!” “I’m really scared right now to zip down this first cable. Take deep breaths! I think I can, I think I can…”
  5. Keeping Trying – Remember it is ok if you do your best, attempt to face your fear and turn back. The fact that you gave it a shot and tried stepping out of your comfort zone is a brave feat and celebrate your wins! And when you are ready, try again, taking a step closer to beating your fear! “I couldn’t zipline this time but I put on the gear and climbed to the top of first platform! Next time I’ll go all the way! I know I can!”

One last tip to leave you with: Accept Encouragement from Others. Sometimes you just need someone believing you can do something to help give you that extra little push to defeating your fear! And sometimes you just need someone to give you a push off the zipline! Just kidding, our guides never push our guests! We want to be cheerleaders of encouragement! Good luck with your New Year resolutions and hope to see some of you in the trees conquering your fear of heights!

I will leave you with this heart sinking video of some kids cliff jumping in southern Utah on a rope swing! Now there is a way to conquer your fear!

Sometimes you need a little push!

Next Post: New Beginnings – Part 2 Getting Outdoors

By Gin Anderson

Giving Back for 2013

“Growing great oak trees from little acorns” is the wish of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  The Alaska chapter reaches out to children across the state to change young lives by building relationships, nurturing communities, providing tools to succeed, and by simply taking moments to share. The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization offers the opportunity for at-risk youth to have positive role models in their lives and create connections through meaningful experiences. But sometimes it is just about having fun!

Every summer Alaska Zipline Adventures has participated in the Juneau Big Brothers Big Sisters’ September activity, thrilled to take Bigs and their Littles zipping through the trees. However, due to budget reductions ziplining was going to be canceled for this year and we saw an opportunity to help out. We coordinated and donated a day of tours for Bigs and their Littles to come together, enjoy the trees, conqueror some fears, and have a bit of fun!

Sometimes ziplining can be a bonding and rewarding adventure, bringing people together and leaving  lasting impressions. We share this view with Big Brothers Big Sisters at Alaska Zipline Adventures and feel honored to support their vision and mission. Having solid mentors and friendships in the lives of children is important and we are happy to provide opportunities for those volunteers to connect with their Littles in Juneau. If you would like to know more about the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska program or would like to know how you can become a Big check out their website. There was also a small article in the Juneau Empire recognizing our contribution, take a look!

Giving back to the community of Juneau is important part about being a local business and having a presence in our wonderful town. Stay tuned for our next charity event in 2014!

- Gin Anderson

Tea time!

Tea time!

Bigs and Littles hanging in the trees!

Bigs and Littles hanging in the trees!

Hitting a bull's eye!

Hitting a bull’s eye!

All smiles zippin' away!

All smiles zippin’ away!

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Weeee!!!

Weeee!!!

Weekend Cabin, Cozying Up for the Winter

The last cruise ship for the 2013 tourism season sailed through the Gastineau Channel, waving “Bon Voyage” to Juneau, Alaska this week. There is a quietness around downtown as people begin packing up. Memories of the beautiful summer looms near as locals settle in for the winter. It was an amazing summer with loads of sunshine and fun adventures! But now there is a fall chill in the air, changing colors on the mountainside and constant rain. It is a perfect time for snuggling in with warm drinks, good books, favorite movies and getting inspired for winter vacations.

One of my most-loved websites for getting excited to explore a new places and relax in a cool vacation spot is Adventure Journal’s Weekend Cabin Blog. Adventure Journal is an online magazine dedicated to outdoor adventures in any form and their contributors cover a gamut of possibilities from best bike ride trails, where to backpack, most scenic climbs, gear reviews, road trippin’ stories, and much more! The Weekend Cabin section posts articles featuring unique, sometimes modern, sometimes cozy cabins in the most stunning places in the world. Some cabins are rentals and others are just personal homes away from home. As their site states, Weekend Cabin:

          …isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.” 

Escape! I like that thought, especially after a busy, grueling but satisfying tourism season at Alaska Zipline Adventures, zipping fun folks through the rainforest in Alaska. All we can dream about now is a little escape, taking a breather from the hustle and bustle of the summer months, going on an adventure, getting a change of scenery and experiencing the outdoors!

Some of my personal favorite cabin locations include the partial cargo plane hut in Italy, bird’s nest mini structure in Finland, the modern bamboo village in Bali, the treehouse globe in Whistler, BC, the cozy lake cottage in Montana, the oceanside lofts in Big Sur, California and a little piece of heaven in Austin, Texas. Last spring we took some inspiration from Weekend Cabin and contacted the owner of Austin Heaven for a possible destination for a wedding and reception. In March with our family and friends, we got married on the steps of a quaint cabin in the country of Texas! The charming setting was perfect for our comfortable style and a romantic place to stay too! Thank you Weekend Cabin! Check it out for yourself. Dream and then escape!

Cabin in the mountains of France.

Cabin in the mountains of France.

 

Spring scene at Austin Heaven Cabin.

Spring scene at Austin Heaven Cabin.

 

Perfect wedding location!

Perfect wedding location!

 

Night time glow of the cabin.

Night time glow of the cabin.

Be an Adventuress!

Travelers today care more about finding ways to make their trips more meaningful. People want to go beyond the surface of visiting a town or country and truly get out there and experience the culture, connect with people, and create lasting memories to share with others. Every season we see more and more groups of people coming to zip with us whether that be a family reunion, youth camp, wedding party, or a girls getaway. People want to feel bonded and look for activities that can bring everyone together. These ideas are at the heart of Global Adventress, an online travel business that was exploring Alaska for a few weeks this summer with their family and posted their adventures on their website .

Global Adventuress is an organization dedicated to helping build bridges of cultural understanding and awareness to empower and inspire others to make a difference with their families and local communities through exploring the world. They believe in supporting the authentic and unique which their crew experienced zipping through the trees with us! Their group consisted of grandparents, parents and lots of energetic grandkids and ziplining was the perfect activity for all ages! Even though there was continuous rainfall, everyone was smiling as they zipped into every platform and topped off the adventure with a little axe throwing. After drying off and warming up in the lodge, Jennifer and LaDawn, contributors to Global Adventuress, shared with us the focus of their trip to Alaska. They wanted to find things to do that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and bring families together when traveling to a new place. Their motto is “explore, share and connect.” Through their website and article posts they were able to report their findings in Juneau and throughout their trip to Alaska so others might be influenced and excited to come and see all the amazing wonders that Alaska has to offer.

Take a moment to read their column and see what they discovered!

Adventuresses and their families!

Adventuresses and their families!

Fun for all ages!

Fun for all ages!

The kids!

The kids!

The gals! Jennifer and LaDawn.

The gals! Jennifer and LaDawn.

The gals! Jennifer and LaDawn.

The gals! Jennifer and LaDawn.

Meet the Owners

For those following Alaska Zipline Adventures’ behind the scenes action, I must apologize for our silent blog posts over the past few months. The start up to the busy tourism season in Juneau has been one steady stream and we have been riding the current, enjoying the hustle and flow of every day! As the new owners of AZA we have felt overwhelmed by amazing support and wonderful experiences with our adventurous guests and super awesome staff. There have been so many times where I have confessed to my husband and co-owner, Davy, “if you were to tell me a couple years ago we would be owners of a zipline, living in Juneau, I would say you are crazy!” But here we are, loving life, taking on all the new adventures and challenges of being business owners!

We work along side our sensational guides and employees every day to encourage people to experience Alaska and the rainforest in a unique and thrilling way. It is our goal to continue the vision of the previous owners, Matt and Rachel DeSpain and inspire people to live more adventurously and provide them with memories of a lifetime, always focussing on safety and excellent customer service.

We have made it through our first month of the season and have accomplished some incredible milestones. As of this week, Alaska Zipline Adventures bumped up to the #1 excursion in Juneau on Tripadvisor. We feel so honored to be a top ranking when compared to all the exceptional tour options available in Juneau. Thank you to our friendly staff for going above and beyond every day to ensure safety on every tour while giving our guests a fun and informative tour experience. And a BIG thank you to all our guests who took time after their vacations to sit down and write a review and share their zipline story!

One of the reasons we are in the zipline industry is to be part of those special moments when someone takes the leap of faith to conqueror their fear of heights, or seeing all the smiles from families when the can do an activity all together, or help someone put a check on their bucket list, or be able to accommodate a person with special needs to get to experience the trees and outdoors in an extraordinary way. It is those stories and moments that make people want to travel and be exposed to new places and things. I want to focus our blog this summer on those stories from our guests that make zipping through the trees so rewarding! Stay tuned from us about all the adventures happening around Alaska Zipline Adventures and happy zipping!

Cowee Meadow Christmas Cabin

I come from a big family and since I was little my parents shared their love for the outdoors with their kids through hiking and camping. After my folks moved down to the sunny, warmer state of Utah, whenever we all get together for a visit (which is never often enough being landlocked in Southeast, Alaska) we like to plan a hike! Sometimes it is revisiting a beloved trail or traveling down a new path. For Christmas this past year my family came up to Alaska to spend the holidays all together (minus my sister who lives in Wisconsin, I should mention there are five siblings, me being the oldest). I wanted to share with them the amazing hiking trails that are available in Juneau, even in the winter and my family being an adventurous bunch was up for an overnight trip to Cowee Meadow Cabin.

Cowee Meadow Cabin is part of Point Bridget State Park about 40 miles north of Juneau, nestled along the treeline, looking out onto beautiful open meadows and surrounding cliffs. During the summer the 2,850 acres lends to excellent access to salmon spawning streams and rocky beaches with views of the Chilkat Range. The Point Bridget trail is 3.5 miles from the road to the ocean. The partly planked path passes through muskeg and a Spruce filled rainforest, grassy fields, and eventually winds toward the beach for a panoramic perspective of the bay. There are two cabins available to the public that can be rented for the night or used to enjoy for lunch or a quick break along the trail, Cowee Meadown Cabin and Blue Mussels Cabin. These cabins are maintained by the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation through the state of Alaska. Now, there is a distinction to be made, overnight cabins are available through State Parks and the Forest Service and each have different standards of cabin upkeep and regulation.

I chose Cowee Meadow Cabin for our family trek because there were going to be 8 of us plus 2 toddlers hiking and the trail was listed to be an easy, reachable 2 miles to the cabin. I was excited for our outing and booked the cabin! We decided to go the day after Christmas, packed all the necessary supplies, and left at a reasonable hour to have enough sunlight. The day was gorgeous, not a cloud in the sky which for residents is seen as a rarity! The drive along the highway was unbelievably beautiful with amazing mountain views and a whale sighting! However, with clear skies comes cold temperatures so having the right warm layers is key. Parked at the trailhead we geared up, strapping on our heavy packs with food, water, and fuel for the stay and bundled up the kiddos and strapped them into a sled. We were ready to go!

The weather the week before was temperamental; snowfall to warmer temperatures, then rain to cold, yielding ice. The hard packed snow crunched underneath our feet as we made our way through the woods, plodding along. We realized it was colder than we had anticipated and the trail was very slick. My brother was falling every few feet and my niece and nephew were screaming and crying from the sled, chilly and uncomfortable. An easy, short hike turned into much more of a challenge. Being from a family of problem solvers, we decided to carry the kids and move quickly. My husband ran ahead to the cabin to hopefully get the stove lit and heat going inside. Once we all made it to Cowee Meadow we discovered getting the stove going was not a simple task and ended up taking everyone’s persistence and effort to get the heat flowing. The gas stove is the primary source of heat, fueled by kerosene that hikers must provide and a tiny emergency wood stove. I began gathering twigs and cutting small logs for the wood stove with the hand saw we brought with us. The wood was wet from being out in the frosty snow so we had to wait for the kindling to dry. It took about three hours to finally get the cabin to comfortable temperatures. An important hint I would suggest is keeping the doors closed to the gas stove. For some reason having the door closed really helps the heat funnel through the top more quickly and efficiently. While waiting for the heat to kick in, my family unpacked their sleeping bags and kept the kids bundled. We tidied up the cabin since past campers left old food and trash behind and started cooking some stew. After being warmed by a big bowl of soup and some hot chocolate we all hundled by the fire and played games. We endured through the night and hiked back early in the morning to our cars where we blasted the heat vents and awarded our journey with waffles at a local diner!

Some Tips from the Trail

  • The description online is pretty accurate, the cabin sleeps at least 8 people and the trailhead is around the          39 mile marker off of Glacier Highway.
  • Checking the weather throughout the week is helpful when determining the conditions of the trail and what gear to wear on the day of your trip.
  • Bring ice cleats and/or trekking poles along just in case the trail is super icy.
  • When hiking with children make sure to have a Plan B for when your preferred method of transport becomes a bust!
  • Make sure to read the directions on the gas stove carefully and follow the instructions. Igniting the stove can take some time so be patient but persistent. 1 gallon of kerosene was plenty of fuel for a one night stay.
  • Bring a hand saw to help gather kindling and small logs for the emergency stove. Two fires going is better than just one when it is cold! If possible leave some drying wood for the next guys!
  • Please make sure to take ALL trash and personal belongings with you when you hike out the next day. It is disrespectful and irresponsible to other hikers to leave behind food and can attract insects and animals.
  • Remember to sweep and tidy the cabin before leaving so that others can enjoy the space too!
  • Enjoy the hike! IMG_4350IMG_0748IMG_4378IMG_4359