Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vista Trail

That is Skilak Lake in the background, but it is hard to see because the clouds and water blend in beautifully. By the time we got to the top it was clearer and we could see the smoke from the forest fire across the lake (Swan Lake Fire, started July 29 from a lightning strike, 1600 acres burned so far). There were quite some billows of smoke coming up, which explained the brown haze on the horizon. I hadn't known there was a fire, so I couldn't figure out the "smog"!

This trail was an 800 foot climb, 3 miles roundtrip. There were more berries on this hike than any other hike we did in this area. We "grazed" our way both up and down the mountain, and we learned to grab berries without stopping!

The trail was well worn, but we couldn't see the trail because the grasses were over the kids' heads in many places, and over my head in some places. Though it was a clear day, the dew had been heavy and we got soaked within minutes. By time we reached the top we appreciated being wet because we were so hot! The area was burned in 1996 (Hidden Creek Fire, 5200 acres) so there were just skeletons of trees and no shade.
About 1/4 of the way up we came across a berry-filled bear scat. After that we began to practice good bear-avoidance tactics: talk, sing, whistle or hum or make any type of noise so as not to startle a bear and to give them time to get away from us. As it was our first hike, I was not quite aware of just how important this knowledge was since we encountered many signs of bear on other hikes.

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