|Although I usually prefer a hike that gains altitude for views above the treeline, the Eklutna Lakeside Trail was recommended to me by many friends, so we drove up the see it. There's a well developed trail system that extends for over twenty miles along the shore, with spur trails that go up mountains. We hiked a little way beyond the first cabin at Yuditna Creek (below right) for a round trip of about seven miles. It was a beautiful place even in the overcast weather today. Web surfers have asked me why my dog usually has on a pack, while I seldom do. We both carry packs on our hikes, but mine often serves as the tripod when I'm taking pictures, so my backpack is seldom included in the photos.|
|The Falls Creek Trail is similar to Bird Ridge; both are long steep ascents into the Chugach Range, directly from the Seward Highway, close to sea level. The high point is over 3900', but my dog wouldn't let me go there. We climbed up on the first of some very steep rocky points near the summit, but frightened by the near vertical wall in front of us, he refused to go on from there. Eager to see the headwater lake just over that rock wall, I cajoled as best I could, but Jascha would simply face the other way and lie down. After four hours of climbing, I wasn't up to the task of carrying a 100lb. dog over that ridge, or anywhere. Clouds were starting to fill in the valley below us anyway, so the dog's will prevailed. The lower part of the trail follows the creek through thick forest, much of it overgrown with pushki, a thoroughly unpleasant plant. But the trail also boasts a wonderful variety of wildflowers that DON'T cause blisters and rashes. Above the tree line, the tiny, scrappy tundra flowers take over, sometimes growing out of solid rock.|
Click here or the flower above to see the Falls Creek flowers.
|Unless you are a new-comer to these chronicles, you know that we climb Flattop Mountain once a month from May to October. On any nice day in the summer, the Flattop trail is a popular place to be. Everyone is always friendly and helpful along the trail, so it's a pleasant place to meet and greet. The lowest picture here shows the steady stream of folks scrambling to the summit. Flowers were flourishing at all elevations; click the wild spirea (left, below) to see a few. Click the view of Powerline Pass (right, below) to see it full size.|
|In record-breaking heat (79F in Anchorage), Jascha and I took a little trip to Whittier to climb the Portage Pass Trail. Whittier is about 60 miles away, through a 2-mile long tunnel. The entry point on the Whittier side is shown below in the top right corner. The last time I was in Whittier was over ten years ago, when the tunnel allowed only railroad trains. Opening the tunnel to cars has had a beneficial effect on the town of Whittier. It is becoming quite a charming place, with a variety of new shops by the harbor. After checking out the changes in town and getting a little snack, we came back to the Portage Pass trailhead, right next to the tunnel. It's a short hike with only about 700' elevation gain. But the views are terrific, at least on a nice day. For the full effect you just have to be there, but check out the big scenic views below this collage of small pix.|
Large scenic views from Portage Pass
On to August