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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
more 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
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil