Not Everyday You See This!
~Friday, July 29, 2022~
Day 39 of Alaska Trip
Where there’s weddings, there’s crowds. Apparently there is a wedding tomorrow at the Alyeska Mountain Resort, with many attendees making a weekend stay out of it in our RV parking lot. One of them we met, as they came over to talk to us about our Lance trailer. For now, they travel in a borrowed old Class C. But in a few years time when they retire, they hope to narrow down their selection to a brand new Class C or a Lance. They’re from beautiful Eagle River where we just camped a few weeks ago and are traveling to California next summer so we mentioned the worthwhile RV shows to check out to do their side by side comparisons…..Sacramento and Pleasanton! They also had a few recommendations for us in regards to some great hiking trails. One was the Alyeska North Face Trail just minutes from our campsite. We have been really itching to get back on a trail, especially in this amazing state!
But first……the helicopter rescue training. As I mentioned yesterday, I knew we’d have a front row seat being the first trailer in front of the coned off area for the event. The downside……a dirty trailer thanks to all the dust it kicked up. But it was well worth it. We must have seen them 3 or 4 times,
repeatedly landing at a specific mark in the parking lot, dropping a line as if to rescue someone, then taking off with the line dropped, heading up the mountain. Our guess is because the terrain is so steep around us, it makes for perfect conditions to practice these maneuvers. It certainly made for an exciting morning for all us campers!
Now about that hike……it’s hard to believe that in our 39 days so far of being in Alaska, we have not hit one trail. Granted many of those days included just getting TO Alaska, which required a lot of sitting. I think our last trail experience was in Colorado which really put us in shape with all the high altitude trails we were experiencing. So it’s time to get our butts back in gear! Not a surprise that our pups was willing and eager to hit the trail. There’s nothing Sadie loves more than hiking OFF LEASH!
We are always bear aware and would never let her out of our sight. And we each carry bear spray and know how to use it. Most people never encounter a bear, and if you do, Alaskans consider you to be a lucky one. They really are magnificent creatures. I’d just prefer to not see one on a trail. I made sure to play my Pandora music the entire way to alert any potential bears that we were coming. You definitely don’t want the surprise element when it comes to these furry creatures.
This summer only hike is not for wimps. In its short 2 miles from the Alyeska Ski Resort
to the top of Alyeska Mountain, the climb is 2,000 feet of terrain that is normally a double black diamond ski run in the winter. Once we got out of the resort area, the initial part of the hike began on a wide, gravelly maintenance road that quickly changes into a narrow path. Along the way our feet came to a few seasonable footbridges, crossing small streams of falling water which was perfect for Sadie.
The lush vegetation of greens and wildflowers around us at times made the path very cozy and oh so fragrant. We both said how much it reminded us of Hawaii. And as you might imagine, at every turn, was spectacular scenery that only got increasingly more beautiful the higher we got. On a few occasions when we’d stop to catch our breaths, those famous biting flies we had been warned about, descended on us. Evidently, they love sweat and once they are on you, they stick, the blood suckers that they are. The best thing to do is to keep moving. As we got to the switchback section about ¾ of the way to the top, every so often, the trail crossed underneath the aerial tramway. We could see them, and they could see us, so of course we had to wave. 👋🚡I must say at this point, the tram ride back down was looking mighty appealing. When we finally made it to the top, we were thrilled that we did it and were astounded at the 360-degree views of awesomeness….views of the Girdwood Valley and Turnagain Arm. Once we high-fived our accomplishment and enjoyed our ice-cold brew at the Bore Tide Deli, the grueling hike soon became a memory, though I was sure it would all come back to haunt me in the way of soreness tomorrow.
While enjoying our resting time, we struck up a conversation with a local, Mike. He and his labradoodle had passed us earlier on the trail and recognized us immediately with a, “Cheers!” and a “You made it!”. He’s got the ideal job where he works summers commercial fishing and winters as a ski instructor on Alyeska Mountain. As I’m always interested in what brings people to Alaska, I couldn’t help but ask Mike his story. At the young age of 38, originally from beautiful Washington State, he got tired of the growth and the influx of out-of-staters. He just absolutely loves the open land to small population ratio. I think he summed it up very well by saying, ”I choose to live in a place where the animals rule and people are secondary to the land”. Alaska truly is the Last Frontier! And like most locals do, he offered a few things to check out for the remainder of our stay in Girdwood. Really nice guy!
No, we did not wimp out and take the tram to the bottom. I must say, the descent is sometimes more difficult as it puts pressure on the toes and pressure on the knees. Today would have been a good day for those hiking poles with such steep terrain. In cases like this, I’d prefer more exertion and cardio with the uphill than the roughness of the descent.
Thank goodness for carbohydrate leftovers. After a day like this, who would be in the mood to cook? That sun-dried tomato pesto gnocchi suited our well-deserved appetites.