Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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"Beyond the foothills at the city's edge lies Chugach State Park -- a half-million acres   
of accessible hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, camping, wildlife viewing, snow-
machining, pack-rafting, kayaking, ATVing, climbing, and much more."
~ Chugach State Park brochure

There are hundreds of miles of trails throughout the large expanse of mountains in Chugach State Park, located just east of the Anchorage city limits. It's a year-round wonderland for residents and visitors who like the great outdoors.

As has been the pattern recently in Anchorage, it was overcast most of the day and then became a little sunnier in the late afternoon and evening. Temps were about average, from the mid-50s to mid-60s F.

Fluffy cottongrass (above) and other flowers (below)
at 2,800 feet elevation on Mount Gordon Lyon

Jim took Casey for a four-mile bike ride/run in the morning, then did a solo 35-mile ride on base after lunch. I took the dogs on walks in the campground but didn't get motivated to do a decent hike until I saw some sunshine at 4:30 PM.

Since it was getting late and Mt. Gordon Lyon is close to JBER, I decided to drive back up Arctic Valley Road and hike the slopes just north of Rendezvous Mountain.

View of Rendezvous Mtn. from ridgeline of Mount Gordon Lyon

It was 5:45 PM before I got on the trail with both dogs and almost 9 PM when I returned home. It took about 2:30 hours to hike 3.69 miles on the southern flank and lower summits of Mt. Gordon Lyon.

After hiking I was so wired I had great difficulty getting to sleep when I was done! I didn't go to bed till 11:30 PM -- and it wasn't even dark yet. Jim beat me to bed for the first time in as long as I can remember.


Above and below:  medley of alpine plants at 3,800-4,000 feet elevation

There were about a dozen vehicles in the Arctic Valley ski parking area when I got there. The occupants were all apparently using the trails on the Rendezvous side of the creek.

I went up the other side where I've seldom seen anyone hiking. That was easier with a rambunctious young dog like Casey who wants to greet every person and dog she sees (i.e., she needs to be on a leash much of the time).

Here are a couple photos of the beginning of the ascent:


About halfway up the drainage  between the two mountains I turned left on a more obscure trail to the ridgeline of Gordon Lyon:

Looking up toward the ridge

Looking back from part way up the south side of Gordon Lyon

I didn't go to the summit of Gordon Lyon but did get up on the ridge for about half a mile so I could see to the northern end of Cook Inlet and down to the town of Eagle. My GPS said I went from 2,654 to 4,029 feet elevation and had a total gain and loss of 2,926 feet. 

The next series of photos shows the views in various directions as I hiked east along the ridge:

View toward northern end of Cook Inlet

Low cloud creeping past




View of old Nike missile base on one of Gordon Lyon's peaks

Above and below:  There are lots of large, interesting rocks on Gordon Lyon's ridgeline.



The next three photos are a panorama from left to right, looking toward the high point on Mt. Gordon Lyon (first picture) to the north side of Rendezvous Mtn. (third picture):




A faint trail continues east along the ridge

Rocks just below the summit of Gordon Lyon

Cody has always done fine off-leash, staying close to me as we hike. When we turned around tonight, however, he led the whole way back as we descended cross-country on Gordon Lyon's south slope. He was on a mission to get back to the truck and he knew exactly where it was.

Casey, on the other hand, also knew where it was and did not want to turn around. She tried to lead me farther up the mountain. That's typical of her recently. She has her own agenda sometimes and it's comical to watch her body language as she tries to convince me to change my mind!

I took the next set of photos as I headed down from the ridge toward the saddle between Gordon Lyon and Rendezvous Mountains:

Looking back up toward the summit

Looking down toward the Eagle River valley; Rendezvous Mtn. is to the right.

View west toward the ski area (trailheads), Anchorage, and Cook Inlet

Arrow marks trail 'way down on the saddle; Rendezvous dominates the near background,
with its ridge to the left (where I hiked June 25).

Looking back up to Gordon Lyon's summit

Last section of trail; Cody knows the truck is close!

At least half the distance was cross-country through the tundra and sub-alpine zones. That's very easy to do on this mountain because it's above treeline and there aren't very many rocks. It gave me a chance to see different types of plants and avoid hikers on the main trail.

I enjoyed doing an evening hike for a change but will probably stick to walking earlier in the morning when it's cooler and I have longer to unwind before going to bed.

Next entryhiking at the Eagle River Nature Center

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