You Rock – Do it Safely

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April 2021

Debra McGhan

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For Best Safety Advice…Ask a kid

Curious what Alaskan children think everyone should know about outdoor safety? I wondered so I visited several schools to find out. All the children I spoke with spend a lot of time outdoors hiking, fishing, boating, riding snowmachines and four-wheelers or just jumping into piles of leaves and having snowball fights in the winter. Some … Continue reading

Springtime Fitness For Pain Free Play

Are you preparing for your summer time adventures? Don’t forget to prepare your body for healthy, happy, pain free adventures.

Too often we think about getting our boats and bikes and four-wheeler’s tuned up but what about our bodies? A few years ago, I started my spring with gardening chores and ended up in a hospital unable to walk because I dislocated my knee. I realize now, years later, that my mistake was in not getting my body prepared and keeping my muscles and joints tuned up. This year is different.

Meadow Lakes School… Recess time. Phew! I used to be so agile…

Since having stem cell treatment on my hip in December, I’ve been slowly working on recovery.  In April I joined a Cross Fit class at Denali Gymnastics.  I’m amazed at the strength and agility I’m gaining with every workout. And the best part is, every exercise and every workout can be customized for my skill and ability.

My personal trainer, Lynn Reynolds, is more concerned about proper technique than reps.  He’s focused on helping people use the gym to replicate actions from real life so instead of just working the muscles, you’re strengthening and conditioning the body  to bend and flex and lift in specific motions that protect the body. It’s making this year’s gardening chores come easy.

Zip line??!!! We never had a playground like this when I was a child. So much fun!

In addition to the cross fit, I’m using the environment around me for fitness. I live across the street from an elementary school and have been visiting the playground after school and on weekends to continue with the training I’ve learned in the gym.  It’s fun and easy to do and adds to the variety of my workouts. On two days a week I focus on stretching and yoga. That covers six days of the week and makes it so I never get bored.




Beyond my workouts, I’m focused on nutrition. I discovered when I eat raw, natural foods my joints feel better. When I eat processed foods high in things like corn, sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, I ache and hurt like every joint is swollen. That means I’m reading labels a lot more these days and I’m sadly horrified that these three ingredients seem to be in lots of things at the store.

The final piece of my healing fitness routine involves massage therapy. I roll on a foam roller to work out the muscles and visit a specialist at least once or twice a month which keeps things flowing and relaxed. A great pain reliever even though the massage is anything but. The best part is after it’s over I always feel better. But I’ve also learned I need to drink lots of water following a massage to flush out all the toxins released through the process.

All in all, as I age, staying focused on these things is letting me still live like a kid. I now know for certain that recess is critical. I’m convinced, when you stop playing you stop living.


Arctic Man Reminder

Last year at this time I was packing and planning for Arctic Man. This year, the event kicks off on Wednesday, April 9th and I’m not going. Not because I don’t want to but because I’m recovering from a hip injury and also don’t have the funding. I’m planning now for 2015. If you are … Continue reading

Ready for Adventure

Before you head out for your adventure have you asked yourself the question, are you ready if something goes wrong?

Healthy Balance

Four years ago I tumbled down a mountain while skiing. That body abuse was added to flying off a trampoline the summer before and several minor ski falls  after that first big crash. Along my road to recovery I have had to learn the importance of movement, balance and not giving up . During this journey, I was told … Continue reading

Snap decisions – Beware!

Check out a recent article I had published in Coast Alaska Magazine on decision making in the back country.  Thank you to Ortovox/Deuter representative Christian Mason for sharing his ordeal. Gives you something to consider

A Really Bad Day at Wolf Creek

Yesterday my friend and I went skiing at Wolf Creek. The sun was shining and the snow conditions were wonderful. But a sad tone seemed to emanate from all the employees at the resort. My friend Mike, who skis at the resort regularly and knows a lot of the lifties and staff, picked up on … Continue reading

AAIC Earns Alaska Governor’s Special Achievement Award


Alaska Avalanche Information Center Recognized for Avalanche Forecasting and Education

 The Alaska Avalanche Information Center, a not-for-profit organization operated by a team of dedicated volunteers, is proud to announce their selection for a 2014 Alaska Governor’s Safety and Health Special Achievement award for their work in providing snow forecasting and avalanche education for the general public. This is the 2nd time in AAIC’s 5-year history they have been recognized for their dedication and hard work in the field of snow safety. The award will be presented on Thursday, March 6th during the 33rd annual Alaska Governor’s Safety & Health Conference held in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Convention Center.

The State of Alaska does not operate or maintain a snow forecast center and instead relies on volunteers and non-profit organizations like AAIC to fill this critical need. Over the past five years AAIC has been working to establish a network of Alaska Snow Forecast Centers around Alaska in their effort to provide relevant, critical information for the general public regarding snow and avalanche conditions.  

AAIC currently has report centers for seven highly accessed avalanche prone areas of the state including: Anchorage, Cordova, Haines, Hatcher Pass, Juneau, Thompson Pass and Turnagain (in support of the US Forest Service Chugach Avalanche Information Center.) This information can be accessed at

The report bulletins provided by the AAIC and USFS snow forecasting professionals make it safer for those working, traveling or recreating in mountainous regions. Individuals are now able to access these areas armed with relevant, vital information about current snow and weather conditions to help them make more informed decisions on the best times and places to travel. This data is critical in helping to reduce avalanche related injuries and deaths.

In addition, AAIC encourages the general public to submit observations from their travels in the field to further expand the safety net of information.

If you would like to learn more or help with this grass-roots effort, please contact

Get Alaska Avalanche Information Fast

Planning to be in Thompson Pass? Haines? Hatcher Pass? Cordova? Anchorage? Planning to travel in the backcountry of these areas? Did you know you can get current, relevant information on snow conditions and advisories in these areas with the click of your mouse? Check out the Alaska Avalanche Information Center at  You’ll find valuable information on snow safety and forecasts for these regions under avalanche bulletins and advisories.

This year the US has lost 16 people in avalanches. Alaska has so far dodged that bullet but that could change in an instant. In some places the snowpack has been non-existent. In others, it’s measured in dozens of feet. This is still February and Alaska’s spring may well bring the snow that has missed the state so far this year. If that new snow is piled on a weak, faceted layer, we could be in for some massive slides. In case you missed it, there was a 50 foot deep slide near Valdez and fortunately, no one happened to be driving through Keystone Canyon when it came down.  Check it out here!


Take the time to get a current advisory before you head out in the backcountry of Alaska this spring! Safe travels.

Calling all Hatcher Pass Riders!

Do you ride, hike, sled, ski, walk, snowshoe…travel in Hatcher Pass? Did you know you can get timely, super valuable information about snow and trail conditions from absolute backcountry pros who live, work, play and love Hatcher Pass?

Want to enjoy a fun evening with friends who love to play in Hatcher Pass enjoying food, music and an awesome presentation, all while supporting YOUR avalanche information center?

Find out more at Hatcher Pass Avalanche Information Center

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