Kind of a “how to”.
Great Horned Owl. This one was sitting above a decapitated and disemboweled rabbit. Unlike other owl species, both male and female Great Horned Owls sing. I love being able to see this down the street from our house.Fireweed is a common sight here in Alaska. The name Fireweed derives from the species’ abundance as a coloniser on burnt sites after forest fires. Its tendency to quickly colonize open areas with little competition, such as sites of forest fires and forest clearings, makes it a clear example of a pioneer species. Plants grow and flower as long as there is open space and plenty of light. As trees and brush grow larger the plants die out, but the seeds remain viable in the soil seed bank for many years; when a new fire or other disturbance occurs that opens up the ground to light again, the seeds germinate. Some areas with heavy seed counts in the soil can, after burning, be covered with pure dense stands of this species and when in flower the landscape is turned into fields of color.The dogs. We love them. Sometimes, they listen to us.
Hike 6/52 for the 52 hike challenge.
It starts off beautiful right from the trailhead. It is a big well worn trail at the Prospect Heights Trailhead.
Then it slowly follows the appropriately named Powerline Trail.
This is quite an easy trail. It isn’t too steep, it is wide, it is gorgeous. I love Anchorage.This time of year, there are flowers of every color outside. The pinks, the purples, the whites, the yellows, I wanted to show them all off. I wanted to sit and stare at them, I wanted to make sure I made noise to alert any bears.The whole trail is very well marked. I brought a GPS, but really did not need it. Some of our adventures are totally unmarked and out in the middle of nowhere. This trail was nothing like that.The views from the trail were incredible.I did not have enough time to make it to the top of Wolverine Peak, but I think that is it behind the dogs. The trail got steep, the day got late, and I had somewhere to be. I did get to hear coyotes calling as the sun went down. This place is amazing, still.
There is a beautiful spot near downtown Anchorage called Ship Creek. Okay, so it isn’t always beautiful. It is muddy. A slippery and sticky mud that claims many boots and the occasional life. It is near the train depot. It is loud and crowded. It is always littered with fishing line, bags of salmon eggs used as bait, and junk food wrappers. I just can’t seem to stop going here. The tides need to be timed correctly. Apparently. At low tide, the creek flows rapidly and the fish stay out at seas. Apparently. At high tide the place looks like a lake and it is hard to cast to where the fish allegedly are.While there are people catching fish there, I have not been one of them. I even gave up my morals of fly fishing and resorted to flipping out spoons. I have acquired and lost many lures already this season. I still haven’t fished with bait, or tried to floss them, yet.
The season is coming to a close. This is the closest place to our house where I have a chance of catching a King Salmon. It is easy for me to strap my rod to my motorcycle, wear my boots and waders, and be fishing in 20 minutes.At least the spot has beauty in its own way. Who cares that people are occasionally murdered there.
Maybe it looks hard. Maybe it was. Maybe it was hillier than we thought it would be. Whatever. Totally counts as hike 5/52 also!
Amanda: 1:50:33 7/146 AG 179/1583 OA
Rory: 1:47:11 13/82 AG 125/1583
In barely preparing for the Mayor’s Half Marathon we run a little more than we normally do. This trail follows the creek and is absolutely beautiful. We saw a mother and baby moose that was tiny and looked like it had just came into this world. They had the priority so that slowed us down a little bit. We found this awesome bridge.There were people barbecuing in the park. The smell slowed us down a little bit. Running has become less about the overall speed and more about enjoying the new sights. Now I know that I am getting old!
This one also counts as hike 3/52.
This trail is incredible. It starts outside of Seward on a dirt road that passes an enormous waterfall. It wouldn’t be the last waterfall we saw on this trip. The trail is very well maintained. It had rained the day before, but there were boardwalks everywhere that there needed to be. With the ground smelling wet and everything looking greener than usual, we set off with high hopes and full packs.
We crossed our first large creek/small river and we spent a little too much time looking for salmon that we hoped would be returning to spawn. This was not a fishing trip and it was difficult to leave a rod behind. Especially when I saw a guy in the parking lot stringing up a fly rod and heading to the beach.
We walked in the forest for the first mile or so. Up and down a small hill. We emerged and the trail headed towards the beach. This is where we would find out if we had timed things correctly. At high tide, many places are impassable. On an incoming tide, you can be trapped in small coves or on large rocks. The tides can be quite large here so a very low tide is ideal. A very high tide can be dangerous.This was option number one for a camp spot. Right next to the waterfall. It was only a couple of miles in. It would have been easy, but people would be passing by a lot and it wasn’t our original destination. We wanted something a little further from the trailhead.
After a couple miles of walking on the beach in beautiful sunshine, the trail turned into the forest again. It started uphill and we began to sweat. We couldn’t stop because of the mosquitoes. And we are stubborn. We came to a fork in the trail and chose the more difficult path. We didn’t know about the elevation gain. Or the trail turning to muddy single track, but it mentioned something about the alpine something or other and that sounded pleasant. Imagine sweating, swearing, panting people with legs burning and terrible thoughts racing through their minds.
I was wondering why I wasn’t laying on my couch scrolling through Instagram like any sane person should be doing with a few days off. The small streams in the high alpine fields were absolutely beautiful.
We had to be mildly alert for bears as we saw scat on the trail. Eventually the trail headed downhill and we hiked on cool dry creek beds.
When we thought that we couldn’t take any more strenuous hiking, we thought that we were hallucinating hearing waves. this might be the best view from the trip. Emerging out of the forest and finding the ocean again. We knew that we had made it to South Beach. It wasn’t in Florida, it was much better than that.This was our view for three days. There were two people there when we arrived. It was a Sunday and they were headed out. This nurse career seemed like a good choice at that moment. We were all alone.At night we started a fire before it got dark.It didn’t really get dark because it is summer here. And the moon looked like this when it rose. It was hard to sleep with such beauty around us. Eventually, we hung out bag of food out of the way of the bears and made it to bed.It was easy to lay in bed when we looked out of the tent and saw the same things, but in a different light. The sweltering heat in a tent seems to push you out. Even in Alaska.The next day, a couple of friends joined us for a night. We watched Orcas cruise in the bay. Sea lions were curious enough to pop up their heads near shore. Bald eagles seem to be everywhere up here.Another successful trip in the backcountry. Also, we didn’t see any fish, so I was glad that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on an amazing fishing trip.Thanks for reading!
We headed up the Parks Highway (names for George Parks, not Denali National Park, even though that is the direction it heads) to follow little blue lines that we had seen on Google Maps. We found a place where the power lines cross the creek. This is usually a good spot to access the water.
Many other places I have fished have lots of private property preventing a person from accessing the water. Here, you really just can’t get to the water. The bushes are too thick, the mud is too deep, and there are no trails. It is perfect. When you do get to the water, you might be on a cliff too high to fish properly. The other side of the river always seems to look better than wherever I am standing.
Plus, there is the added bonus that I am always looking over my shoulder for wildlife. Maybe something to see that is cool, maybe making sure that nothing is going to attack me. Either way, I feel like I am always looking out for something. We found a piece of water that looked like it would have some fish. The water was higher than we wanted though. It was muddy. There were hardly any bugs (except the mosquitoes). There had to be fish here.
It was too early in the season for anything salmon related. No eggs yet. No flesh unless it was left over from last year. These are meat eating trout. It was time to swing some streamers. The bigger and uglier the better.Somehow, we fooled them again. Total solitude. Hungry fish. The fear of being attacked by wildlife overcome. Mosquitoes swatted. Headed home, we felt accomplished. Rugged. Alaskan like. Bear spray safely in the car unused, we stopped by Starbucks for our usual chai lattes. We aren’t that rugged.As the fishing season starts to heat up, my heart races more and more before each adventure starts. Every time that we step outside, I am amazed at what we see.
I am counting my runs as hikes. They meet most of my made up criteria. A few friends, Amanda, and I went running at Campbell Tract. There are over 730 acres to play in. It is across the street from work. We ski the trails in the winter and run there in the summer. It is outstanding. Bears, moose, birds, and all of the other Alaskan wildlife can be seen here.
In fact, there is a part that is closed when the salmon are in the creek because of the high bear activity. We ran 8 miles and had a great time. We did not see any large mammals, but that is always okay with us. They probably see us and we get to see them when we are least expecting it.