This was our third overcast and/or rainy day in a row in the 50s F. We knew
inclement weather was coming so we did longer hikes and bike rides on
Friday and Saturday when the weather was nice.
We were tired enough
from hiking and cycling that we didnít go out on Sunday except to hunt
for a new camera in the afternoon. My Canon Power Shot digital camera
sounds like it's about to self-destruct -- I've dropped it one
too many times.
After spending most of Sunday and Monday doing indoor activities we were
getting cabin fever and simply had to get outside today to exercise more
than just walking around the campground and Big Box stores.
North Fork of the Eagle River
Weíre already tired
of rain and we've been in Alaska only two weeks. The one good thing
about a cloudy day/night is that our camper is darker when weíre trying
to sleep. The summer solstice occurred last week; Anchorage
has more than 20 hours of daylight every day now.
Sunday was the first
night in a while that was darker when we went to bed. Sunset was
about 11:40 PM but we couldn't see it because of the clouds.
Mountain bluebells along the North Fork of the
Even though itís
also darker when itís overcast in the morning Iím still waking up too early.
That started soon after we got as far north as Canada. I often get up at 6 AM, feed Cody and walk him in the campground, and
get on my computer while enjoying my coffee and breakfast.
Once I'm awake I
prefer to just get up. If Jim wakes up early
he usually stays in bed till 7:30-8:30 AM, either snoozing or listening
to his MP3 player.
TODAY'S BIKE RIDE
Despite 57-degree F. mist and rain
we got out to ride our bikes around JBER before lunch.
Riding in the rain
was more pleasant than I expected. It takes more effort for me to get
out on my bike (especially in wet weather!) than to go for a walk but I almost always enjoy riding
when Iím actually doing it.
Jim's already done
several fairly long rides around JBER and knows his way around quite
Today he showed me several bike paths, streets, neighborhoods,
There is some attractive housing for enlisted troops
and officers and their families on base.
a dirt road with beautiful pink wild roses and mountain bluebells on the
Richardson side of JBER:
Some of the plants
are so lush and large Ė 2-foot tall dandelions (most are puffs now), 2Ĺ-foot lupines, 4-foot ferns, 5-6-foot cow parsnips . . .
That's what lots of
rain and 20+ hours of daylight in the summer will get you! I'll
show some more pictures from our bike ride throughout this entry.
Weíll probably go for a ride on
the Coastal Trail or at Turnagain Arm tomorrow even if itís cloudy
and/or raining a little bit. Clouds and/or rain are predicted for the next
We canít just stay
inside all the time. Thereís too much to see and do!
JUNE WEATHER EXTREMES IN ALASKA
We really canít
complain about cool, little-bit-rainy weather. It's much worse in other
parts of Alaska and the Lower 48 states.
There is a large
wildfire in northern Alaska, where it's been too dry, and flooding in
some other parts of the state. And even
in late June snow continues to cause problems in the Anchorage area.
South Central Alaska
had record-setting levels of snow this past winter.
I saw this
article on the Alaska Dispatch website
this morning about folks whoíve gotten injured recently on snowfields in
the Chugach Mountains east of Anchorage.
Remember in my entry
Flattop I noted how popular it is and
showed photos of snow on the way up the trail? And my comments Saturday
Rendezvous hike about being very
careful sliding down snow banks?
The bike path bridges Ship Creek more than once as
they both meander through JBER.
Here are some
quotes from the article above re: recent injuries at Flattop:
Flattop Mountain -- a distinct, 3,510-foot
summit about two miles northwest of Ptarmigan -- has become not only the
most climbed mountain in the state but also the one that sees the most
falls. A large snowfield along the trail to the summit has become an
enticing trap for many. Tempted into sliding down on the snow, people
start off slowly, quickly accelerate and find themselves rocketing
In mid-June, chief park ranger Matt
Wedeking observed it was only by luck there had as yet been no one
seriously injured sliding on the late-season snow in the Front
Range . . .
There were at least three helicopter rescues
in and around Flattop in the last week. Ranger Tom Crockett, the longest
serving Chugach ranger, said rescues in the area have unfortunately
become a normal and regular thing. The park's Glen Alps trailhead at the
base of Flattop above Anchorage now attracts approximately 130,000
visitors a year. Many of them are physically or physiologically
ill-equipped to climb any mountain. But some decide to try climbing one
of the nearby peaks anyway . . .
Other hikers who were out in the Chugach on
Thursday noted the peculiar danger of some snowfields. Although the day
was warm and sunny, they said, there were still some bands of ice around
the edges of most snowfields.
A couple veteran hikers reported taking falls
after slipping on unexpected ice. Both were equipped with ice axes and
-- just as importantly -- trained in how to use them. They
managed to stop their slides almost before they began. But they were
reminded of the dangers of those white paths that seem to offer such an
easy routes to the tops of many peaks.
When we were on Flattop
Friday we saw a helicopter flying around; we donít know if it was
involved in any of those rescues or not.
EVEN BIGGER PROBLEMS ELSEWHERE
Alaska certainly has no monopoly on
weather-related problems this month.
Down in the Lower 48
Tropical Storm Debby is wreaking havoc on Florida and Georgia, dropping
15Ē of rain in one day near Tallahassee. I-10 is or was
closed. Some places were getting 5Ē of rain an hour during the height of
Farther north it is very hot in the Midwest and all
along the East Coast. Roanoke, where we own a house, is expecting
temperatures near 100 F. several days later this week. That's unusually
hot for the Blue Ridge Mountains, especially in early summer.
Riding along Grady Hwy. on base; a new bike path is
under construction to the right (above)
and a newly-paved section is open to ride on
(below). Note the blue lupines blooming to the right.
At the other extreme
it is so dry out West that there are several states with wildfires
raging out of control.
Colorado is the worst, with major fires near Ft.
Collins and Colorado Springs. By this afternoon the USAF Academy was
evacuated. Wow Ė that means one of our favorite campgrounds is possibly
in danger. One of the evening news stations showed flames that could be seen in the
Rampart Range from the Academy. Garden of the Gods Park is threatened,
Field of tall cow parsnips along Grady Hwy. on base
We really hate to see
these beautiful areas devastated, to say nothing of the loss of life and
property. Numerous homes and other structures in AZ, CO, and other
states have burned down.
Wow. Seems to be
either feast or famine as far as rain is concerned.
THE SUN POPS OUT AGAIN
Although it was quite cloudy this morning and it rained for about an
hour we could see sunshine and some blue sky by mid-afternoon and
throughout the evening.
Too bad it wasn't that nice during our bike ride!
I went back out with Cody for a short walk in the afternoon to enjoy the
After supper Jim went to the library to return
the series of war films he borrowed and to get some new movies to watch
on rainy days.
along one of the bike paths we rode today
along a bike path
After he left I walked Cody again in the campground and got
the bright idea to take a drive through one or both of the Eagle River valleys a few
miles north of JBER. There is a North Fork and a South Fork. I didnít want to waste the nice weather since
more rain is expected tonight and for several more days.
I called Jim with my idea and he was game. He
realizes, too, that we need to be flexible and take advantage of
whatever sunshine we get.
SCENIC DRIVE TO THE EAGLE
Jim came back to the campground about 7 PM to pick up Cody
and me. We took the Richardson Hwy. to four-lane Eagle River Loop Road
near the town of Eagle River.
When I was up on Rendezvous Peak and ridge on Saturday I was able to see down to the homes
on Hiland Drive in the South Fork Valley of the river:
I wanted to see if I could show the peak to Jim from the
valley. I think I found its rocky summit but my pictures of the peak and
ridge didn't come out
well because I was facing the sun.
We got up to about 2,100 feet on the little
paved road, which you can see in the picture above. We drove back about seven miles before the road
dead-ended. I was disappointed that we couldn't see much of the river.
Hiland Road through the South Fork Valley
After we drove back to the Eagle River Loop Road
we turned right, drove north a little ways, and turned right again on Eagle
River Drive. There is a large Super WalMart store at this intersection
so it's easy to find.
Eagle River Drive goes for about 11 miles into
the valley that contains the North Fork of the Eagle River.
kind of parallels the South Fork Valley but is separated from it by more Chugach peaks. Itís a beautiful area with 7,000-foot mountains, snow on
the peaks, and some glaciers.
The road through the North Fork Valley
The homes in both valleys and up on the
hillsides range from simple cabins to luxurious multilevel homes. It'd
be a great place to have a summer home.
We didnít go all the way back to the Eagle River
Nature Center at the end of Eagle River Rd. The road is paved but bumpy
and Jim didn't want to drive another five miles in. I might go
back to the nature center another day in order to access some of the trails through the
We stopped at the North Fork River Access
parking area (above), a $5 fee area for day use to picnic, hike the
trails, fish, put in a raft or canoe, or just hang out.
All we did this evening was walk down to the
river for a few minutes. I showed two pictures of the river and some
wildflowers at the beginning of this entry.
TOUR OF THE NATIONAL
CEMETERY AT JBER
On the way back through Joint Base Elmendorf
Richardson to our campground
Jim took a detour to the very large and scenic Fort Richardson National
Cemetery. Thousands of veterans are buried there.
Entrance to the large cemetery
Colorful hanging baskets full of flowers brighten
the building near the entrance to the cemetery.
The cemetery is located in the NE
part of the base and it is open to the public. The closest gate for
visitors to enter JBER to tour the cemetery is the Richardson Gate.
Here are some photos I took of the
graves and attractive setting:
I was hoping to go back one day on my bike to
take pictures but bikes arenít allowed in the cemetery. Neither are
I did drive through again in the truck several days later
earlier in the day and took
the pictures shown in this entry. They are better than the ones I
took on our initial drive through the cemetery tonight when the sun was
getting lower about 9 PM.
ALASKA WEAVES ITS SPELL
It began raining lightly as we drove back to our
campsite. We could see a little bit of a rainbow toward the mountains.
When we got to our site it was raining lightly behind us Ė but not on
It looked very cool in the sun, like liquid snow
softly falling. It was so unusual to be right beyond the edge of the
rain for several minutes. I wish I could have gotten a picture of it (I
Alaska is magical.
lupines in our campground
Here's another observation I made recently while perusing my AAA
International Date Line just west of Alaska . . . must mean we
are in the last time zone of the day. Cross that line and weíre into
There must be a joke in there somewhere.
Next entries: a scenic drive along Turnagain Arm
including water scenes, Dall sheep, Potter's Marsh wildlife
refuge, the town of Girdwood, the road through Whittier Valley,
glacier views, a snowy hike to Byron Glacier, and more
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil