|I was feeling a bit under the weather, but June 13th was so beautiful and sunny that something had to be climbed. The Twin Peaks Trail starts out at the Eklutna Lake trailhead and goes steadily upwards. Although I was wheezing a bit, I was rewarded with stunning views of the eight-mile-long, one-mile wide Eklutna Lake. Small, delicate blue butterflies populated a floral subalpine meadow just below the treeline. The skipper butterfly (lower right) was the only one I saw up there. Click on the scenic photo (below, top) for an expanded view. Click on the blue butterfly or the skipper for a closer look.|
Feel free to use photos from this website, but please leave copyright information in place.
It rained Saturday, sometimes quite heavily. When it cleared up in the afternoon, I knew I'd be able to climb Flattop and join the throng in an informal solstice celebration. It's a longstanding Anchorage tradition. We just want to see the sun for a bit longer on the longest day of the year. The crowd was there, but the sun was not. We gathered and watched hopefully, but the clouds thickened and darkened. When the rain began to fall, many of us departed before midnight. There were still people there lighting up fireworks, and a few tents were set up for the night. But we were in the larger group, running for our cars, and the nice dry, warm comfort of our homes in the flatlands below. In the lower view, you can just barely see some of the celebrants in the distant fog at the summit. The ridge on the other side of the valley is almost completely obscured. The plump little bird was chirping loudly, demanding that I take a picture, so I did. The nagoonberry flowers (inset) remained silent, but I took a picture anyway. The upper right scene from the trail can be viewed full size if you click on it.
A bright, sunny Sunday brought quite a few hikers to Eagle River's famous Mount Baldy and the ridge to Blacktail Rocks. Although there is a more gradual 2-mile route to Baldy's summit, most people take an informal footpath that goes about a mile straight up. It is tiring, but the views are rewarding all along the way. We could even see Mt. McKinley for awhile, over a hundred miles to the north. The chocolate lilies (bottom, center) were in bloom along the wooded portion of the trail. Near Baldy's summit, there were Old World Swallowtail butterflies (bottom, left) cavorting. Jascha and I went over the top and down to a long ridge that continued on to another high point called Blacktail Rocks. You can see it on the left of the top view (below.) The ridge, which is a nice broad alpine tundra meadow, stretches back for a couple miles before it drops into a deeper alpine valley, and then up to the Blacktail Rocks. We went just to the end of the ridge. It was a lovely stroll in an alpine wonderland. On the meadow-like ridge, there were hundreds of Arctic Fritillaries (another type of butterfly) nectaring on tundra flowers and courting mates.