After an unusually warm, sunny July, the more traditional chilly rains of August took over. Of course, this made me restless for some good climbing weather, and may have ever so slightly effected my judgment. When weather predictions indicated a respite from the downpour on Friday, I decided to attempt the ridge to Mount Magnificent in Eagle River. The steep footpath to the "Mile-Hi Pass" was muddy from days of rain, and it was nice to finally reach the alpine tundra of the ridge. There were occasional light sprinkles as we climbed up and down four small peaks along the ridge. Then ominous black clouds gathered to the east (the way we were headed) as you can see in the upper right photo. When it started to rain harder, I paused to ponder the wisdom of continuing the trek. Then we were pelted with hail, and my decision was made. Perhaps we will come back next year, when weather permits, and finish the final two peaks to the summit of Mount Magnificent.
If you look carefully, you can make out some of the river in the valley in the upper right photo. The lower photo shows some of the town of Eagle River, and the view of the ridge looking west. Click on the tundra flowers to see some of the wildflowers on the ridge trail.
|A friend and I, along with her two children, two more boys from their neighborhood, and two dogs, went out to Hatcher Pass to hike along Skyscraper Ridge, starting at Summit Lake. Shonti and the kids hiked up to the ridge itself. Several of the group went on up the first peak on the ridge before they had to go home. I continued on with Jascha from there to the summit, a couple peaks away. It was nice cool climbing weather, but overcast and hazy with smoke from a wildfire to the north. Hatcher Pass is a beautiful area, about 50 miles from Anchorage, with scenic mountains and ridges, and old mining ruins. I will need to go back and do some more exploring there. Views would be much better on a clear day, but click the summit photo (top, left) and the ridge view (lower, right) to get an idea of the scenic beauty of the area. The upper right photo is Skyscraper Mountain, as viewed from the road near the lodge. Shonti's daughter, Kluane, spotted the butterfly (inset), a Phoebus Parnassian part way up the first steep incline to the ridge. Click on it for a bigger view and info.|
|Yesterday's lovely hike in Hatcher Pass didn't wear me out, and the weather is going to turn rainy soon, so we took the opportunity to go climbing on this relatively sunny day. Flattop has a magical hold on many of Anchorage's citizens. We can see the mountain from our homes and it beckons us. Today, the rather large parking lot was full to overflowing and the trail was bustling with hikers of all sizes. By contrast, I was alone on the Mount Magnificent Ridge. And my group on Skyscraper Ridge encountered no other hikers along the way. Skyscraper Ridge is an easier climb than Flattop, and has free parking! But Flattop's popularity does not diminish the pleasure of the climb. You meet the nicest people along the way, so sharing the trail, and encouraging each other, is part of the fun. Flattop isn't just a mountain trail; it's a pilgrimage.|
|Back to Hatcher Pass! The Gold Cord Peak climb was accompanied by unpredictable weather, raining one second, sunny the next, foggy the next, windy the next... . There isn't really a trail that goes up to the peak because the mountain is a jumble of boulders. Climbers have to pick their way, very carefully, over and around the huge rocks. And they were very slippery today because of the rain and fog. Jascha, who is generally very surefooted on mountain trails, was frightened by the deep openings between the boulders and had to be coaxed along. We both enjoyed the comfort of an old miner's shack over halfway up. It was dry inside, and there was an informal registry there--just a piece of blue-lined paper that was left by a climber on August 18th. We were the fourth entry. Beyond the cabin, the footing on the boulders was even worse. Finally we reached a steep monolith that led to the summit, and the dog refused to go up it. When I asked him, "do you want to wait here?" he looked around for a somewhat flat and comfortable spot and lay down. I put out his water bowl and a snack, and left my pack there too, taking just my camera. I finished the rather scary ascent up the slick rock face alone. There is a nice flat spot at the top where a pole and cable have been anchored. The top right photo (below) shows the black moss covered monolith that Jascha refused to climb, and the picture below that shows him resting in comfort. Top left is one view from the summit; click it for another view. Click the flowers (inset) to get a scenic view and info on the flowers. As we headed down through the boulders, we startled a rock ptarmigan from between some rocks. It flew a little way away from us, then sat there eying us. Unfortunately, I was out of film. The bird was mostly gray with a bit of white.|
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