Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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Continued from the previous page.


After reaching the saddle I was surprised to find a high, wide alpine valley rising gradually to the south and east.

Now I kind of know why they call the broad plateau the Ballfield:

The trail is to the right.  A narrow creek flows through the gully; it was mostly dry today.

The very rocky trail curved below the jagged ridgeline of O'Malley Peak for another 1.7 miles to the overlook above the lakes:.   

I was high enough to look back and get views of the city and Cook Inlet along most of this high trail:

There were very few flowers on any part of this hike but some patches of little red leaves here and there in the tundra to give it some extra color:




As I approached the overlook I had several choices -- descend steeply on a trail that goes down to the Williwaw Lakes (left arrow in next photo), climb the jagged rocks to my right on O'Malley Peak, or go up the slope on my right a little ways to observe the valley below and the peaks around me.

I chose the latter, but did climb a little higher to the right than in this picture:

Arrow left = trail that descends to Williwaw Lakes; I went up the slope to the right ~ 200 feet.

Here are some of the views down to Black Lake (black??), the Williwaw valley, another high alpine lake at the end of the valley, and surrounding peaks:

Williwaw Lakes down in the valley

Black Lake looks glacier-blue to me! I couldn't see it from the valley several days ago.

Ditto for this high alpine lake at the end of the valley -- too high to see from Williwaw Lakes level.

Rocky slope I climbed to get these photos

Looking other direction to mountains and valley north and east

I descended from the rocky slope a little different way (off-trail) and discovered Deep Lake nearby:

It's smaller than Black Lake but perhaps deeper at full pond as the snow is melting??


Because the trail through the tundra was so rocky I took a detour off-trail where it was a little smoother on my way back to the saddle below Little O'Malley's summit:

I was in a bit of a hurry on the way down because I could see some gray clouds forming and didn't want to get caught in a storm up there.

I kept my eye on the sky the whole time I was above treeline. On the way up to the pass Jim called to warn me about a nasty thunderstorm in Palmer that was headed south. Up on the broad tundra I had 360-degree visibility and didn't see storm clouds in my vicinity until I got to the overlook above Black Lake.

After I turned around I could see a storm over Cook Inlet. I was too far away to hear any thunder:


Fortunately, it never did rain while I was hiking. I took a few minutes at the saddle to climb up Little O'Malley a bit but didn't go to the highest point:

On the way down the steep slope to the Middle Fork Trail I indulged in a few ripe blueberries, then returned to the Glen Alps parking area.

Looking back up to the O'Malley peaks from the valley, I could see that the sky was more clear in that direction:

I was disappointed to not see any moose this time. On my way up to the tundra two groups of hikers coming down from O'Malley told me they'd seen a handsome bull moose a few minutes earlier but he was gone when I got there.

All I saw were arctic ground squirrels. They're cute, but nothing to write home about.


By the time I got back to the truck the sky was more clear over the Anchorage Bowl. I still had some energy so I decided to walk around the short overlook trail loop next to the parking area:

Ascending to the overlook

Above and below:  views of the O'Malley peaks and other nearby mountains


The storm over Cook Inlet moved on.

Flattop Mountain


My high point was about 3,834 feet at the Black Lake overlook, the low point about 1,986 feet at the creek. Total elevation gain and loss on the three trails was 5,270 feet. Total distance was 8.72 miles. Total time was 4:40 hours plus a couple rest breaks.

Next entrymore pretty alpine lakes -- S. Fork Eagle River Trail to Symphony and Eagle Lakes

Happy trails,

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

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil