Seeking out the sun in South Fork’s Hanging Valley

With less than ¼-inch of snow on the trail, clear skies and temperature in the mid-20s, it was pleasant as I turned left (east) out of South Fork Valley and ascended into Hanging Valley. It was early afternoon on October 19th of this year, and contrary to my personal calendar that denotes winter only beginning on November 1st, it truly felt like winter—especially when a sudden breeze chilled my face. The trail’s scant snow covering was undisturbed, except for the tiny footprints of voles, squirrels, small birds and occasionally, that of a coyote. Moving into Hanging Valley, I entered shade and felt the temperature drop quickly by at least five degrees.

Share
With my calendar, winter is only three months long

I believe there are some Echo readers who have not seen my calendar that reduces winter to about three months and stretches summer to five. Some time ago I declared, almost King-like, that since we live in such a high latitude, I would adopt a more suitable calendar. Perhaps with climate change, my calendar is becoming more accurate from a meteorological perspective. Whatever the case, I think it’s a guaranteed sanity preserver, provided you are prepared to do one thing: go outdoors!

Share
Hiking to the edge of wilderness

On a recent hike in South Fork (Eagle River) I apparently wasn’t paying attention and walked right up on a bull moose that was standing about 40 yards away. I immediately began a wide detour and started talking to the animal as I routed around it. And when it appeared he wasn’t concerned by my presence, I quickly snapped a few photos, using a bit of telephoto. I then moved on.

Share
Open letter in support of Gold Star Peak

Commissioner Mack, I am grateful to have an opportunity to lend my support for U.S. Army First Sergeant (retired) Kirk Alkire’s proposal to name Gold Star Peak in the Chugach Mountains, as outlined in his application to the Alaska Historical Commission. I am a lifetime resident of Alaska, having arrived in Seward in 1946. I am a member of the Mountaineering Club of Alaska, a member of the Chugach State Park Citizen’s Advisory Board; as well as an avid hiker, climber and outdoorsman. My brother-in-law (deceased) Clyde “Skeet” Munn, was a decorated serviceman of the U.S. Navy...

Share
Pre-winter season is good for hiking

The sun shone brightly through a thin layer of high clouds October 14 of this year as I slowly plodded up Twin Peaks Trail above Eklutna Lake. It was early afternoon, and the difference between sunny and shady areas was notable. In the warm sunny spots, an early morning frost was melting off the trail, leaving a thin layer of mud. In the shade, the trail was frozen solid.

Share
Kenai Peninsula’s Bear Creek Road offers quick access to Alpine Terrain

The grade of the gravel mining road was steepening and littered with cobble-sized rocks, creating some challenges for bicycling, particularly for this novice off-trail cycler. My buddy Pete Panarese seemed to be doing a little better, riding a short distance ahead of me. But soon we were both walking our bikes. “This hill has got to let up pretty soon,” I said to Pete between huffs. “It doesn’t look this steep on the map.” (I’m quite positive these eight infamous words are eternally chorused by hikers and climbers the world over). No sooner had I uttered those words when we came around a bend - revealing another undocumented stretch of steepness.

Share
Moving Mountains for Gold Star Families: The naming of Gold Star Peak

Eagle River’s Kirk Alkire, now retired after 23 years of service with the U.S. Army, has embarked upon a new mission: naming a nearby mountain Gold Star Peak to honor families of Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Alkire served in the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) 25th Infantry Division from Fort Richardson, which lost 53 paratroopers during its 15-month deployment to Iraq during the 2007 “Surge.” Four of those 53 heroes were assigned to the unit in which Alkire was First Sergeant.

Share
Autumn is Nature’s Super-Nova

It lingers in the cool, crisp air. Time is suspended, a breathless anticipation from valley to alpine meadow to craggy mountain ridge. The land’s apparel slowly changes from green to brown, saffron red, yellow and gold. It is nature’s finale – an explosive display of color that ignites our senses and seems to proclaim: “look at me, this is my dance before the long, dark, cold days of winter.”

Share