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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Cottonwood King: Old Cottonwood Trees Evoke Memories

They stand like giant sentinels along Thunderbird Creek, just downhill from the popular Chugach State Park trail leading to the waterfall. Girdled by thick and deeply grooved bark, these cottonwood trees have withstood the ravages of nature for nearly two centuries—some of the oldest deciduous trees that I believe exist in Southcentral Alaska.

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Moving Forward into Fall

School has started, and the leaves are falling! The smell of this year’s cranberries is in the air. Termination dust is working its way down the mountains. It is time to put up our fishing and hunting gear start thinking about winter. With fall and winter come many things to think about, from basic home winterizing to making sure your lawn, flower, and garden beds have the best start in the spring.

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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.”

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Bear Mountain Hike is Short, but offers Long-Distance Views

I seldom rush on any hike, unless the mosquitoes are driving me crazy, or there’s a delicious meal waiting for me when I get home. But on this September evening a few years ago as I scrambled up the trail to Bear Mountain that looms above Mirror Lake, I was in a race with light. I could see the clouds were arraying for a beautiful sunset and I was determined to make it in time.

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Eklutna Lake: Walking a shore less traveled

Ducks startled me as they passed above Eklutna lake. “Important things are happening here all the time,” I mused. "I wish we had more time to notice.”

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Hatcher Pass Offers Some Great Summer Hiking

I don’t think I’m alone in my disdain for bashing through alder and willow thickets, which is why I like the Hatcher Pass area so much.

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