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"Adventure is not outside man -- it is within."
~ Mary Anne Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot

Cody-pup and I had a nice mini-adventure today while Jim was riding the Coastal Trail in the valley.

We began our 8Ĺ- mile hike at the Arctic Valley trailhead at the ski center about 10 AM and wandered around Rendezvous Peak, Rendezvous Ridge, and Mt. Gordon Lyon for about five hours. This was our fifth hike since June in this general area of the Chugach Mountains.

Low clouds creep over Rendezvous Ridge; the South Fork of the Eagle River is on the left.

Once again I had to pay $5 to park at the ski area. It's private and the state park pass doesn't apply to this trailhead. Most of my hike was on state park property, however.

Although I love discovering scenery along trails that are new to me, this trailhead is the most convenient to JBER and I always start hiking near the treeline. I don't have to walk several miles just to get above the trees -- the entire hike is sub-alpine and alpine (tundra). 

I've mentioned many times through the years that my favorite hikes are above timberline where I have panoramic views and, in Alaska, I don't have to yell "Hey, bear!" all the time!

This trail goes up to the saddle between Rendezvous Peak (L) and Little Teton (R).
Even here, about half a mile from the trailhead, the plants are low enough to see any critters.

In addition, there are several different routes I can take from the Arctic Valley trailhead on Rendezvous Peak, Mt. Gordon Lyon, their ridges, other nearby mountains, or even down to the Ship Creek or South Fork Eagle River valleys.

All of my five hikes from this trailhead this summer have been on a little different route.

I did more off-trail hiking this time. Itís easy to negotiate most of the low-growing sub-alpine vegetation at this site and at this elevation. And there's no way to get lost, either, unless you neglect to bring a map your first time and/or look for prominent landmarks to maintain your bearings.


I began my hike on the main trail to the saddle between Mt. Gordon Lyon on the left and Rendezvous Peak/Little Teton Mountain on the right.

When I came to a wooden bridge across the creek I turned left and followed a narrow trail on that side of the creek all the way up to the saddle (next photo). It's on the southern slope of Gordon Lyon. I like to hike on this side of the creek because it has more flowers, less mud, and fewer people than the main trail.

Mt. Gordon Lyon is in the distance. The main trail is to the
far right, on the north slope of Rendezvous Peak.

I walked through meadows full of groundsel, geraniums, and other wildflowers, some of them rather tall.

The trail on this side of the creek disappears after about half a mile but it's fairly easy to continue walking through the sub-alpine plants as they get shorter and shorter.

You won't get lost, either; you can see the main trail 50-100 feet to your right.

This area in the northern half of Chugach State Park is still very green although some of the plants are turning red now:



Lots of pretty blue geraniums, lupines, harebells, and two kinds of gentian; pale purple asters; white cow parsnip, Labrador tea, yarrow, and bistort; yellow arnica and groundsel; cream Indian paintbrush; and other flowers are still blooming between 2,600 and 3,200 feet:

A variety of wildflowers in this vignette:  yellow groundsel (foreground),
smaller yellow arnica, white yarrow, blue geraniums, purple asters

Pretty blue geranium

Cow parsnip, yarrow, and arnica

Alpine meadow bistort

Star gentian

I think I just didnít get high enough to see these flowers yesterday on Wolverine Peak.

And today above 3,200 feet there weren't very many flowers blooming any more, either. Winter is coming!

I did see some reddish-brown king's crown sedum, little blue harebells, upright blue broad-petaled gentian, and these still-pretty-but-deteriorating mountain avens at alpine elevations:

There are other colorful and interesting plants in the tundra, too. I love these bright red leaves and the white lichens that I've seen up here on previous hikes:

Wispy clouds in the Ship Creek valley on the west side of Rendezvous Ridge

Striking contrast of red and green, which are complementary colors on the color wheel.

The white lichens look like snow.

This looks very Christmas-y.

I'm fascinated by the sponge-like structure of the lichens.

I was surprised to see no berries today Ė not just blueberries to eat, but any berries. I guess I was too high for them. I saw lots yesterday at lower elevations and Jim saw a lot on his bike ride today along the Coastal Trail at sea level.

Don't get me wrong. I'd rather see wildflowers than berries so I'm happy with today's hike!

Continued on the next page . . . there are three pages total.

Happy trails,

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

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© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil