2012  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   MOOSE & MORE ON THE COASTAL TRAIL, p. 2

THURSDAY, JUNE 21

"A word to the wise:  Your goal is to see the moose long before you violate its space.
Yield to the moose:  go around, go back, or wait. Avoid a confrontation, since
a half-ton moose with four slashing hooves can stomp the living daylights out of you.
By staying aware, you can peacefully co-exist with these humongous herbivores."

~ from an interpretive panel at Kincaid Park with moose and bear safety advice

 
 

(Second of two pages)

POINT WORONZOF TO KINCAID PARK

All the way outbound from Earthquake Park to Kincaid Park we looked hard for moose and bears. The habitat was perfect for both.

South of the Point we rode through about six miles of lush green rainforests with more flowers and only sporadic views of the water in Cook Inlet:

 


The trees in this section are a mixture of spruce and
deciduous species, like this paper bark birch.

 

 

 


Mountain bluebells, dandelions, and horsetail ferns -- some
of the same plants we saw through the Yukon and eastern Alaska.

 

 


Picnic table along the Coastal Trail in Kincaid Park,
with a view across Turnagain Arm to the upper Kenai Peninsula

THERE'S A MOOSE!

We finally saw the first moose near the top of the long uphill section through Kincaid Park about a quarter mile before we reached the ski center and stadium area:

She was a large female grazing alone just off the path.

I stopped to take three pictures, almost as happy to rest my legs on that long hill as to see a moose (we've seen a lot of moose in our time). Jim was just behind me and clearly saw her, too. She pretty much ignored us:

From her body language we could tell she was OK with our presence so we started riding our bikes past her slowly. She was still there when we rode back down that hill about 15 minutes later. Several other people had also passed by her without incident during that time.

Good girl!

Ironically, at a kiosk in Kincaid Park about half a mile after we encountered this moose we read a large interpretive panel re: moose and bear safety in Anchorage. (The quote at the beginning of this page is from that sign.)

I mentioned in an earlier entry that it's easy to find such safety information all over town. Locals want visitors to enjoy viewing the resident wildlife without getting stomped or mauled.

KINCAID PARK

We turned around inside Kincaid Park, probably the largest of Anchorage's numerous municipal parks at 1,400 acres. It is full of rugged dirt trails for cycling, hiking, running, and disc golf in the summer. About 40 miles of trails are groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter.

We didn't go on any of those dirt trails but enjoyed the views from a wooden deck overlooking Cook Inlet:

A paved trail to the deck is located near the Kincaid Outdoor Center, a large grassy picnic area, and soccer fields:

 

MOUNTAIN VIEWS FROM THE COASTAL TRAIL

Although it was partly cloudy in the morning we had good views of snow-clad/glaciated mountains in the volcanic range of mountains across Cook Inlet to the southwest and to a closer mountain known as the Sleeping Woman which is across the water just west of Anchorage.

The volcanic range is very distant in the photos here but when I enlarge them on my computer screen I can see them pretty well:

Mts. Gerdine, Torgert, and Spurr are over 11,000 feet tall; Redoubt and Iliamna are 10,000+ feet. I took that photo from the hill above Point Woronzof.

The next picture is from the deck at Kincaid Park, where there are good views of the volcanoes with your eyes, binoculars, or zoom camera lens on a clear day. You can also see across Turnagain Arm to the northern coastline of the Kenai Peninsula, which lies south of Anchorage:

 

On a really clear day you can reportedly see Mt. McKinley AKA Denali and other mountains in the Alaska Range from Earthquake Park or Point Woronzof but we couldn’t see them today. The Alaska Range, which is northwest of Anchorage, was mostly under clouds from our vantage points.

ON THE RETURN

I knew Jim wanted a good solid ride so I led with a pretty steady pace for 11 miles southbound to Kincaid Park, where we turned around. I didn't take many photos outbound.

Jim returned to the truck at a quick pace (less than an hour). I returned at a leisurely pace, taking about twice as much time as he did to take pictures, watch a mama duck and her nine babies (nine!) at Westchester Lagoon,

talk to some people, watch planes take off near the Point (they are very low there, and come and go within a few minutes of each other),

watch the tide go out, look at a couple classy houses near the trail, enjoy the flowers, and read interpretive signs about all kinds of things -- how much international cargo passes through the airport, the history of the estuary at Chester Creek that was destroyed in the 1964 earthquake, the lifecycle of salmon, all about the planetary system (there's a "planet walk" along the greenway with signs at distances between Mile 0 and Kincaid Park that are proportional to the distances between the planets), and much more.

I also got to see a mama moose and her baby right on the trail between Woronzof Point and Earthquake Park. They weren't there when Jim went through several minutes before me.

I wasn’t expecting them along this more populated part of the trail. I rounded a curve and there they were:

Since the mom might be protective and defensive, I didn’t stop to take their picture but rode very slowly past them and took a picture while riding. I take the stomping warnings seriously.

Mom was nonchalant; the baby ran back into the woods. Both look skinnier in the photo than in person. I warned several people walking toward me about the moose so they didn't surprise them like I inadvertently did.

On the way back I noticed this intriguing little statue near the shore:

I'll have to go back again to hunt for an explanatory plaque. I didn't see anything re: who sculpted it, the title, or what she's doing -- looking at a bug, perhaps?

FALLING TIDE

Jim and I began our ride at a good time this morning (9 AM). The tide was at or near its peak as we rode outbound so we got to see water close up the first few miles when we had the most unobstructed views of the inlet.

On the way back the tide was lower, especially by the time I got done (22˝ miles took me almost four hours – 1:40 hours out, 2:10 back). Then it was interesting to see the “mud flats” and lots of birds searching for goodies that had washed up.


Three hours earlier the tidewater was up almost to the trail. That's Point Woronzof in the distance.

Numerous signs warn about the dangers of walking out on the mud flats when the tide is out:

 

You'd think that would be intuitive but some people (and dogs) have drowned when they got mired in the quicksand-like mud and couldn’t get out or rescued in time when the tide came in.

Besides the danger of the mud, the tide goes in and out very dramatically here, averaging 30-40 feet in six hours. Turnagain Arm, on the south side of Anchorage, has one of the highest tides on our continent, rising as high as 42 feet. Watching the tides is a favorite activity of many residents and visitors in the area.

We haven’t seen a bore tide yet. Those are described as foaming walls of tidal water up to six feet in height that can be dangerous to those who get caught in them unexpectedly. They are fairly unique to this area and are caused when strong tides surge into the rather narrow inlets of Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm.

You can pick up a booklet with detailed tidal charts (locations, times, depth, etc.) at the visitor center in Anchorage and other coastal towns in Alaska. It's fascinating to someone like me who has never lived next to an ocean and doesn't visit them very often.


View of Anchorage and the mud flats as I returned to the downtown area

Another reason beginning at 9 AM was good – there were many fewer people on the path all the way down to Kincaid Park than there were on the way back, especially as long as I took on the return.

I wouldn’t want to ride the trail on the weekend. There were too many kids even on a weekday. None of the dogs were a problem and most people kept to the right. Most of the people were in the five miles between the Point and downtown, not in the wooded section south of the Point to Kincaid Park where the trail isn't very close to the water.

We had a great time on the Coastal Trail today and plan to ride it again before we leave Anchorage. If you have any athletic inclination at all, we encourage you to walk, run, or cycle all or part of it.

Next entryvisiting Ship Creek and the Ulu Factory this afternoon

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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