Continued from the previous page.
ASCENDING TO THE NORTH PEAK
After I reached the south peak I saw a couple more steep pitches down,
then back up again -- and more snow -- to reach the sign
at the summit of the north peak (3,690 feet):
Looks like fun. Let's go for it!
I wasn't tired yet, I had plenty of time, and the weather was great so I
kept going, knowing some of the later descent would be tough on my
I'm so glad I continued up because the views and wildflowers just keep
getting better and better. I felt like I was as high as some of the
surrounding mountains with glaciers, although that was probably just an
I went through another large area of snow and could see other smaller
ones that haven't melted yet:
There are several pretty pools of water in the last half mile; one had blue
snow, like a glacier:
The water in Lutak Inlet and Portage Cove (Haines' harbor) were a beautiful
From the eastern slope of Mt. Ripinsky
I could see most of Chilkoot Lake, the
river coming into it, and the river going out of the south end of the lake into
Lutak Inlet but I didn't get all of that in one picture.
The Chilkat River (below) and the Lynn Canal to Skagway are cement-colored
from all the glacial silt that hasn't settled yet:
Chilkat River, looking upstream
Chilkat River water becomes more blue as it mixes
with water south of Haines.
It took me 3:50 hours to reach the north summit. This is the
final approach to the sign that marks the top:
Considering the rough trail, scenic views, and 440 photos I took during this hike, most
on the way up, that's a decent time! The "Haines Is for Hikers"
brochure estimates the ascent at 3-5 hours, so even with all the
distractions I was right in the middle.
While on the north peak I spent about 20
minutes taking photos, eating, and talking on the phone to Jim and
View NE toward Chilkoot Lake
View north toward Peak 3920
View NW up the Chilkat River
View SW to mouth of Chilkat River; I'll talk about
the mountain goats (arrow) shortly.
View south toward Haines (can't see below the
mountain from this vantage point)
View SE to Lynn Canal and Lutak Inlet
I was unable to find a survey marker on the north peak like the one on
the south peak but I discovered this old, rusted iron tube on the side
of the rock outcropping.
I couldn't get it open. I assume it holds -- or used to
hold -- a trail register for hikers to sign:
Then I dropped down off-trail to watch four mountain goats on a snow
bank above the Lutak River:
Long hair and nimble footwork allow
the goats to thrive in the chilly alpine climate, where the steep,
rugged terrain offers them protection against predators.
Bears also head up to the higher
elevations on the mountain in the spring to feed on emerging plants but
I didn't see any of them today, just their scat on the trail. I called
out "Hey, bear!" about every 100 feet through the forest. I also saw
moose hoof prints several places farther down in the woods and near
The only other wildlife I saw was a
ptarmigan that stayed close to me, perhaps in an effort to protect his
or her brood:
I practically had the whole trail to myself all day.
I saw only one couple with a lively golden retriever going up as I was coming down,
about a mile from the summit.
If you hike with a
dog on Mt. Ripinsky, take extra water for it.
Today there were only a couple creeks
with minimal water in the woods, two small, muddy moose ponds,
and several pools of water from melting snow above treeline. Later in
the summer and fall there may be less water.
Looking down at Lutak Inlet and a small pond in a
It took me about as long to get down the trail as to go up.
For one reason, I
hiked off-trail for a while in the tundra when I came off the north peak
so I could get closer to observe the mountain goats.
After I got back on the trail I had to be even more
careful of my knees on steep sections.
Two trekking poles helped a lot. I
didn't fall but I did slip several times on slick roots and loose rocks. My
legs were like Jello the last couple of miles. I'll be sore tomorrow.
Pretty view down to the south peak
I got down about 5:30 PM. I had a terrific phone signal on top the
mountain but a poor one in the wooded areas. Jim got my message re:
when to pick me up, though. He and Casey surprised me about a quarter mile
from the end.
I was glad to be done but still on a "Rocky Mountain high" and very glad
I chose to hike this trail and go all the way to the north summit. The
views were worth the effort.
Given the opportunity and knees no worse than they are right now, I'd
definitely do it again.
Next entry: scenic two-day drive from Haines to
Valdez, including the rest of the Alaska Hwy. through the Yukon
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil