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A Fat Old lady Takes Up Climbing
The Year Five Journal
May 2004


On to June 2004

It's been a long hard winter, so I have been itching to get up Flattop. Jascha (my MacKenzie River Husky) and I went out hiking somewhere almost every weekend during the winter, weather permitting, but we were not able to get far up on our favorite mountain trails. May 1st was cloudy and a just a bit blustery, but with temperatures at about 60º, it seemed promising. From the Glen Alps Trailhead, I could see that the path up Flattop was mostly covered with snow, sometimes very deep, so I strapped on my crampons. I was glad to have them, because I definitely had an easier time negotiating the snowpack than some other hikers we encountered along the way. There were quite a few hardy folks on the trail, but not many at the summit. Actually, Jascha and I were alone there when we arrived and for awhile thereafter. It was very windy up there, but the view of the Chugach Range was worth it. Down in Anchorage, most of the snow is gone, except in deep woods. Jascha would love to have snow all year long, and he was delighted with the frosty trail. Here's a closer photo of Jascha at the summit, enjoying the snow. Of course, I was more delighted to see the little tundra plants growing out of the rocks. Soon, the scrappy little alpine flowers will appear. The hiking season is off to a wonderful start.

May Day on Flattop

Big View from the Flattop Summit, May 1st
The Snowy Trail, near the trailhead

Signs of spring abound down in the lowlands. The first butterflies we see are Milbert's Tortoiseshell. They hibernate as adults and fly early in the spring, with snow still all around. I photographed one along the Potter Creek Trail on April 24. Click here to see it. The same day, there were numerous sprouts giving promise of summer flowers. Click to see little sprouts of fireweed and pushki, some of our largest wildflowers, also photographed on that hike.


Gray skies and blustery winds are not ideal hiking and photography conditions, but I had heard that there were wildflowers on the Bird Ridge Trail, so there was no other choice. The steep southern exposure and frequent high winds clear away the snow early on that trail, paving the way for the earliest spring flowers in the region. I was not disappointed. Northern Red Currants (click to see them) were in bloom along the lowest level, just past the creek. Further up, at the first overlook, a few of the little dog violets appeared. We hiked only to the meadow area that opens up to views in both directions. The weather got worse, but the meadow offered an unbelievable profusion of color. There were more forget-me-nots in one place than I have ever seen before. Quite amazing! Click on any of the flower pictures for a full screen version.

bird ridge flowers


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 On to June 2004

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Enjoy the Flowers Along Alaska's Hiking Trails

Butterlies Along Alaska's Hiking Trails
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