2012  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   HIKING THE WOLVERINE PEAK TRAIL

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

 
"Wolverine Peak, the prominent triangular peak at the intersection of two  
  alpine ridges above south Anchorage, is a well-known local landmark. The peak     
offers a fine overlook of the upper valleys of North and Middle Fork Campbell Creek  
and a view of some of Chugach State Park's rugged inner peaks. The peak got 
 its name from wolverine tracks once found on the summit ridge."
 
~ from the Trails.com website
 
 
Cody finally got to hike with me on mountain trails again today. He missed the stimulation and exercise and I really missed his company when I was hiking at Denali National Park; dogs aren't allowed on any of the trails there.

Wish we'd been able to see a wolverine today, but that didn't happen. I'm not even sure I know what one looks like! There are also supposed to be moose and Dall sheep on Wolverine Peak.


Good moose habitat

The last two days were either overcast or rainy. Although we kept busy I don't have much to report about them. Despite the clouds Jim got in a good 20-mile ride at JBER on Sunday as he explored the northern part of the base, including Six-Mile Lake. He didn't take any pictures along the way, however.

I got this picture of Jim near the end of his ride as he approached Cody and me while we were walking on one of the paved multi-use trails at JBER:

 


Even at 9+ years old Cody still loves to chase sticks
and play keep-away when he finds a really good one.

Yesterday was rainy and in the mid-50s F. all day. Yuck.

We were on our computers a lot, did other reading and trip research, watched TV, and relaxed inside. We've especially enjoyed watching several PBS shows about Alaska when we're in Anchorage and have good TV reception.

We had our fingers crossed because the prediction for today was mostly sunny and warm.

THE SUN'S BACK OUT, AT LEAST IN SOME PLACES

Yep, there was lots of blue sky when I got up at 7:30 AM this morning but clouds hung over the Chugach Mountains:


View from the Wolverine Peak Trail

Temperatures ranged from about 50 F. to the low 60s F. today at the campground, which sits in the Anchorage "bowl" (valley) at about 300 feet elevation. It was cooler in the mountains where I was hiking.

I left about 10 AM with Cody for the Prospect Heights Trailhead at the northern end of the metro “hillside” trailheads, which are all part of the huge Chugach State Park bordering metro Anchorage.

It is located several miles north of the most popular hillside trail at Glen Alps. I didn’t have any trouble finding it. I noted that the fuel in the truck was low but it seemed like 1/8 tank would be plenty for my excursion without adding any more to the tank.

 

When I arrived at the trailhead there were not other vehicles in the parking lot. I saw an older man who was walking his dog and figured he must live nearby. I asked him about the approximate five-mile trail to the summit of Wolverine Peak

He said it would probably be pretty wet/muddy after this week’s rain but the views were good above treeline. I asked about signage (good enough that I shouldn’t get lost at any of the trail intersections, he said) and about vandalism in the parking area, which is pretty remote compared to Glen Alps and Rendezvous (no problems this year that he knew of, but some in prior years).

 

As Cody and I started through the parking area to the trail, three young teenage boys came down on their bikes. About half a mile up on the Powerline Trail, a 30-something fella came up behind me on his bike. We talked a little while then and a few minutes later when he came back toward me.

Those are the only people I saw for the next two hours. Some of the hillside trails are open to cyclists and/or equestrians. When I reached the Wolverine Peak Trail a sign indicated it was for foot traffic only.

 

Per my Garmin GPS the trail started at 1,083 feet, went down to 914 feet at the first creek crossing (above), and topped out at 2,101 feet where I gave up at just under three miles and turned around because of all the low-hanging clouds. I still wasn’t above all the trees and tall willows but had better views over the meadows and tundra above the 1,800-foot level.

Most of the trail was three to four feet wide with some more narrow single track through tall brush and dying cow parsnip. It was prime moose and bear territory until I got closer to treeline.

I could see many matted down ovals where something big had slept near the trail, and numerous large-game paths into the shrubs/berries. I saw only one large pile of bear scat, however, no bear prints, one small pile of scat like a coyote would make, and no moose poo.

I did see lots of moose hoof prints and places where they’d slid a few inches down slick slopes in the trail:

I carried bear spray and often called out “Hey, bear!” repeatedly. I didn’t see so much as a squirrel on this hike, however.

I did take note of this camera strapped to a tree soon after I turned onto the Wolverine Peak Trail:

 

I laughed, wondering how many people pass within a few feet of the camera and have no clue it's there.

Then I frowned, wondering 1) how many other cameras I didn't see today and 2) whether they are there to spy on two-legged or four-legged critters. You just never know anymore when you're under surveillance by someone. I'm not paranoid, just cynical.

CREEPING CLOUDS

The sun was behind clouds most of the time while I was hiking on the trail. I could see low clouds moving in and out of the peaks as I climbed higher:

 

 

 

I kept going, hoping the scenery would improve as I got above the trees but it just got increasingly foggy.

When I got up to almost three miles I went into a large patch of spruce trees and fog. With such limited views I wasn’t enjoying the hike very much so I turned around. I'm not sure I even saw the top of Wolverine Peak itself (elev. 4,491 feet).

You can read more about the trail and see a map at this pdf. link. In addition to reported fine views up to the summit, there is also some plane wreckage near the trail.

DESCENDING

When I turned around I was at about 2,100 feet elevation.

The trail below me was now partly under clouds. I was hoping for some good views to the city and Knik Arm but they were obscured from my vantage point much of the time as I descended, too:

 

 

I saw more folks on my descent -- seven people of all ages along on the trail and two dogs Cody got to meet. 

Two couples and their four little kids were getting ready to hike when I got back to the parking lot. I hope they weren't out there looking for their dog. I saw this sad sign on a bridge and it made me very glad Cody always sticks close to me on the trail:

I'd be devastated if he got lost.

I was hoping to see more colorful flowers or leaves today. There were very few flowers still in bloom along the trail, however -- some fireweeds with a few blooms at the very top of the stems (indicating they're almost done blooming), some blue geraniums, and a few other flowers here and there. 

The formerly tall, majestic white cow parsnips look pretty pathetic now as they shrivel and brown:

Not many deciduous leaves have changed color yet; most were either brown or green.

Bright red and orange berries offered more color than anything else in the landscape today:

I also enjoyed seeing colorful little vignettes of plants in sub-alpine terrain:

I got done with my hike in less than 2˝ hours and wanted more. Where could I go next?

Since I had already paid $5 to park at Prospect Heights I could continue using the receipt all day in the state park system. I decided to do some hiking from the Glen Alps trailhead. There were two problems with this, however -- it would probably be cloudy there, too, and the low fuel light came on as I was leaving Prospect Heights. I hunted for diesel, then decided to just go on back to the campground and walk some more on base.

I'd lost my motivation to hike mainly because of all the low clouds in the Chugach Range. A big part of my reason to hike is seeing new territory and too much of it was obscured today.

Note to self: don’t do this particular hike again unless it’s sunny and earlier in the season when more flowers are blooming – or later in the fall when there is more leaf color. This was probably the least interesting of any of my hikes this summer.

While I was gone Jim did a 16-mile bike loop on base, incorporating part of the course he used two days ago (Six-Mile Lake) and adding in Otter Lake this time. Other than too much mud, he had a good ride. He was in a lot more sunshine closer to sea level than I was between 1,000-2,000 feet in the mountains. It was still sunny all evening in the campground, which I really appreciated.

Jim didn't take any pictures on his bike ride today, either. I'm curious about Otter Lake so we might drive the truck up there to see the campground and lake sometime this week.

Next entriesmore photos of our campground moose family, another one of Jim's long bike rides in the city, and hike #5 in the Rendezvous Peak/Mt. Gordon-Lyon area on a sunny day

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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