Continued from the page 1.
REACHING THE SUMMIT
We had no idea what to expect when we reached the top of the mountain.
It is relatively flat by most mountain standards and bigger than we
were able to do a CCW loop around the perimeter of about half a mile.
The people in the
background of the next photo are near the top of the trail. One of the
first things we noted when we arrived at the top were these two posts in
a rock cairn:
That's not the highest point of the peak. I think it's there to direct
people back to the trail when they're ready to descend and it makes a
good meeting point.
We spent a good hour on top, talking with a friendly woman we met
on the way up, eating our Clif bars (needed more calories and water for as long as we were up
there), and soaking in the sights in every direction.
Looking east toward the Chugach Range; we walked
back as far to that side as possible.
(Above) Jim looks toward the south, where we could see more
of the Chugach Range and Cook Inlet (below).
Here you can see a little bit of the southern part
of metro Anchorage,
with Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm in the background.
This view looks toward downtown and the northern
part of the metro area.
Cook Inlet and Knik Arm are in the distance.
The views are awesome from 3,540 feet above sea level. It almost felt like we were on
Mt. Elbert, the tallest peak in Colorado. Although Elbert is about 14,441 feet high the valleys below are about
10,000 feet Ė so the rise isnít that much more than on Flattop.
It also felt higher on Flattop because of the snow on the mountain's flanks (there
was none on top) and on the surrounding mountains.
Some of the mountains in the Chugach Range
reach 8,000 feet but Iím not sure we saw any of those today from our
vantage point. Itís a large mountain range.
As we walked east across Flattop we could see other
mountains in the range more clearly.
I spotted this shovel and flowers near the far east
side of the summit.
I'm guessing someone or something died or is buried there
but we have no clue.
When we still had about half a mile to go we met a delightful local
woman who teaches at the local
university. The past year sheís been in Viet Nam teaching English at a
school there. Sheís just recently returned home to Anchorage and
couldnít wait to climb Flattop again.
Besides talking on the way up the mountain we spent most of the hour on
top with her. She gave us lots of information about other trails and
things to do not only in Anchorage but also the Kenai Peninsula and
other parts of Alaska. The trail I'll be hiking tomorrow is one of her
Jim, Cody, and our new friend are standing on what to me
the highest point on Flattop. I never did see
a survey marker up there.
Note the tent in the center foreground, above. A
young couple is sunbathing on the hillside
hillside just below the summit. This has got to be one of
the best vantage points to camp
in Alaska! To the right are awesome views of
Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm.
As I expected it was more
difficult for me coming back down the mountain.
I had to go down backwards or butt-slide a few of the boulders near the
top. Some steep sections had loose rocks that were treacherous. My
trekking pole helped coming down but was a liability in the boulders so
I didnít use it there.
Even younger folks ahead of us had to descend
carefully. This shot is near the top of the mountain.
This is a little farther down. You can se the
Blueberry Loop Trail farther below. We turned
right on it for the return to the parking area. The
city is spread out for many miles along the coast.
The last half mile we descended on the Blueberry Trail.
We didnít know about it until we came to the intersection with it on our
way up. It is a little shorter than the lower Flattop Trail and more
gradual, which was good for us coming down. It's mostly wide and pretty
smooth going back to the Glen Alps parking area.
Jim walks ahead of me on the Blueberry Trail after
we descended from the summit.
This narrow single-track trail goes up the north
side of Flattop; the main trail goes up the west side.
There are nice views in every direction from the Blueberry Trail, too.
Folks who aren't able to climb the more strenuous Flattop Trail can see
quite a bit just by doing the Blueberry Trail.
For less-hardy folks there is a half-mile trail just above the parking lot
that is easy to walk and reportedly has splendid panoramic views of the city, Knik
and Turnagain Arms of Cook Inlet, and the Chugach Mountains:
The fence marks the Anchorage Overlook Trail.
I thought I might do the Overlook Trail when I got done with the Flattop Trail but it
was already 2 PM, two hours later than we had anticipated getting back
to the truck. We were very hungry and had some shopping to do.
It was sunny and warm during our entire hike, up to the low 70s F. on
the summit. There was some breeze in the parking lot and on the way up
and down but hardly any on top. It was nice to finally be able to hike
in short sleeves. (Jim wore his sun shirt due to his sun sensitivity.)
I saw about ten new wildflowers today that Iíve never seen before, even
in the Yukon or in the tundra in CO, WY, MT, NH, or ME. The two little
Alaska and Yukon wildflower pamphlets I've picked up don't appear to
have photos of most of the ones I'm showing you here so I haven't been
able to identify them yet.
Here are some pretty yellow alpine flowers growing on top of
I really didnít expect so many
people on a Friday, but it is summertime now. Iím guessing most of the
hikers were locals. I know some were visitors like us because we spoke
to some of them and a few were speaking other languages.
We saw and heard some birds but didnít see any animals, probably because
of all the people that were around. At least we didnít have to worry
about bears with Cody running loose! Theyíd be happier in the valleys
anyway Ė more food, water, and cover.
Another flower that's new to me, spotted in the tundra on the summit
I think these are dwarf dogwoods AKA bunch berries but they
look different than the other
ones we've seen in the Yukon and Alaska. These are
growing in rocky sub-alpine terrain.
I made the comment on the way back to the campground today that I wish Anchorage
was closer to Colorado, where we love to spend time in the summer. Iím
already in love with Alaska in the summer but I donít know if I can ever
talk Jim into coming back up this far again.
He reminded me that if Alaska was farther south it wouldnít be Alaska Ė
and there would be too many people living and visiting here.
right -- better that it be as inaccessible as it is or it
wouldnít be so unique.
Next entry: hiking to Rendezvous Peak, located farther
north in the Chugach Range
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil