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 A Fat Old Lady Takes up Climbing
Summer 2000
Part 3

Another beautiful day, and another beautiful climb. The Bird Ridge Trail is part of the Chugach State Park. There are terrific views of the the Chugach range, the Kenai range, Turnagain Arm, and the Seward Highway in both directions. Much of the trail is very steep, but I never had a sense of danger the way I did on Marathon. This trail is longer though, so I turned around when one knee began to complain, and my hands and feet began to swell. I climbed for about 2 hours up (3 1/2 hrs. total) which took me above the tree line for some great views. There were hawks circling above me, rising on thermals.

Rendezvous Peak is only about 7 miles northeast of Anchorage, at the end of Arctic Valley Road. It's just past a small ski area; (the view below, right looks down on one of the ski lifts.) The peak reaches a little over 4100 feet, but since the trailhead is over 2000', the ascent is steep, but not very long. Very few people were climbing the mountain today, although the lower flanks were heavily populated with people picking blueberries. There were wonderful views in all directions, including Anchorage, the south fork of Eagle River, Knik and Turnagain Arms, and the ice field on the larger mountains of the Chugach range. There was a clear view of Mt. McKinnley, which, unfortunately, I was not able to photograph clearly with my little digital camera, because of the haze in the distance. The winds were strong at the summit. Up, down, and some relaxing snack time at the top took only 3 hours total.

This morning, the Chugach mountains were covered with what we Alaskans call "termination dust"-- snow, signaling the imminent arrival of autumn. With summer coming to a close, it seemed fitting to end where I began-- on Flattop. But this time I went over the top, down the other side, and up a ridge to the next mountain, charmingly called Peak Two. There were quite a few people climbing Flattop but only three others on Peak Two that I saw while I was there. The trail up Flattop had some Blueberries and Alpine Bearberries, but had been picked over by climbers ahead of me, but the berry bounty on Peak Two was unmatched. I remained well nourished. This 2-mountain adventure, with some berry picking time thrown in, was about 3 and a half hours. I'm definitely stronger than I was the first time I ascended Flattop, but, alas, nary a pound lighter.

1. Flattop, The Butte, Exit Glacier
2. Flattop & Mt. Marathon
4. Byron Glacier and Autumn on Flattop