September 16, 2012

Post-Storm Beauty

After the storm cleared and most people got their power back, the weather did a 180 bringing us the clear, crisp fall weather I am more accustom to. Having not traveled around much of Alaska this summer, I took the opportunity to head a little south to Hope, AK. Hope is a VERY small town across Turnagin Arm that was established during the gold rush. My teammate Holly and her husband are in the process of building a cabin down there so a bunch of us girls went down to join Holly for a long run/hike in the mountains and spend the night at her cabin. It was a great weekend to get out of the city!

We drove up a valley, parked the car and just headed up the hillside. I have found that trails are generally not popular here in AK, much in contrast to the incredible trail network we have in PC
Getting to the top of the ridge involved plowing our way up the mountain through this tall grass. I would have thought I was in the midwest, except for the fact that I was walking straight uphill. 
Reaching the ridge

The colors were just incredible! I wish I new some of the native Alaskan plants, but I'm still waiting for my mom to come visit and inform me.
Becca on top of the ridge pointing to Anchorage.

Ridge Running! AK is great for this
On top of the ridge, psyched for the 360 degree views
The first part of the ridge was pretty thin, but it was exciting to be on that razor edge
More pretty plants!
My Teammates on top of a mountain

Being girls, taking pics everywhere
Thanks Swix and PowerBar for keeping us fueled up and prepared
Saw some caribou up on top of the ridge. I think this is the first caribou I have ever seen!
Love that red
I was told the name of this flower but I can't remember it....
Headed down the mountain

We made it almost to the bottom when we hit the dreaded alder bushes. This is a classic Alaskan thing! Alders generally occupy the space above treeline before it opens up to mosses, tundra, and low lying plants so they are always that obstacle between the road and the ridge. We successfully avoided them on the way up but on the way down we hit them. There was a dried up stream bed that we were able to literally crawl in and get a little lower allowing us to sort of army crawl through the bushes. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but the worst part is that alders are generally joined by Cow Parsnip and Devil's Club, 2 evil plants that causes large blisters and have thorns that get into your skin. Luckily we all survived without to many lasting scars. This was my first true Alaskan bushwhack so it was a little exciting, despite the frustration in crawling through bushes. 

When we returned to the cabin we cooked up some grilled cheese and tomato soup

The crew at the cabin
Our delicious dinner! Check it out, Holly even got me to eat some salad!

Once back in town, the weather remained clear for a few more days. With the crispness in the air, Denali is ever more prominent so I spent some time rollerskiing and running up high in order to get a view of the Alaska Range and Denali. It was just spectacular. You need a very fancy camera to capture the view so I will leave it as a hook to convince some of you to get up here and visit me someday. The storm also left all the peak snow capped and its only September....... Alaska is crazy!