Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hope, Alaska

We've been through Hope before, but have never stayed there.  Last year on our vacation we'd climbed Hope Point, but hadn't quite made it to the peak of the 3630 foot climb.  Ever since Denver has been bugging us to get back there and do it again--making it to the top this time--so after we did the Lost Lake/Primrose Trail we headed up to the Porcupine Campground in Hope to camp for a few days, hoping the rain on the forecast would lighten enough for us to attempt the climb.  Hope Point was encased in fog nearly all of our time in town, though ultimately it was our strenuous schedule and physical fatigue that kept us from attempting it.  However, it was a great trip because we got to explore Hope!

Old, picturesque buildings are an attraction in Hope.  This one, built around the turn of century, has been updated with a covered entryway (and car!)

First of all, there is virtually nothing to Hope, Alaska.  There might have been something like a convenience store, but not a grocery store.  They have a library that also appeared to be a secondhand store, ice cream shop and espresso shop.  They have a lot of OLD buildings--like, from the early to mid-1900's, which is rare in Alaska.  There are 3 restaurants (maybe 4--one might be open only in the winter; it is called Winter Cafe).  There are 3 campgrounds (more on that later), 2 ATM's apparently (that's a long story how I know that--our campground neighbors arrived without money expecting the campground would take credit off they went in search of an ATM!), and a gas station that I was pretty doubtful about (it looked like a wooden shack that maybe had a pump inside??  There was a Tesoro sign out front and they said they had gas but it wasn't quite clear where to go to get it....).  They have a school, but last I heard they only had 7 students and if they didn't get their enrollment up to like 10 they were going to close the school.  Not sure what happened to it, but obviously the school building is still there.

The big thing that I think keeps Hope alive is Resurrection Pass, which traverses 38 miles from Cooper Landing to Hope and is a popular recreational path for mountain bikers, runners, hikers, backpackers, horseback riders, hunters and in the winter, snowmachiners. 

Whenever we explore these little towns, trying the restaurants is high on our list.  On Main Street we found a cafe (I'm afraid I didn't get the name of it as it just said, "Cafe" on the outside) that was one of those very old buildings.  It certainly had a lot of character, and I was startled to see an entire wall devoted to a bookshelf filled with books when we first walked in.  The tables were large, the prices were reasonable and the food just okay.  My veggie burger was undoubtedly out of a box, the Coke was in a can, and they had bean-less chili which fascinated my daughter so much she ordered it.

We also wanted to try Discovery Cafe, but it closed at 3 p.m. the days we were there and we were always out and about adventuring past 3 so we never made it back in time.  We'll put that one on our list for "next time" (and there will be a next time!).  It is also in an old building--very quaint looking--along the main road into town.

Porcupine Campground was closed last year for remodeling.  It was very nice with a paved road and paved parking at each site, bear boxes for the tent campers, and new restrooms.  It was $18/night, and they charged $5 per extra vehicle, so it was $46 to stay there 2 nights.  The campground is in a birch forest with the usual profusion of bushes and shrubbery so it was fairly private, particularly the tent sites that were down little trails from the parking spot.  The RV spots are on a reservation basis and when I'd check a week before we went they were 100% booked.  However, I noticed that there were tent-only sites that were on a first-come, first-serve basis so we'd decided to take our chances and hope we got a spot.  When we pulled in in late afternoon on the day before the Fourth, we got the second to last spot available out of the 24.  Whew!  The other nearby campground was on Main Street with no trees for protection from the winds ripping along Turnagain Arm. 

Coeur d'Alene is a free campground with 6 sites, but it is 7 miles down Palmer Creek Road, way off the beaten path.  It is a cute little place, with a stream running through the campground, a bridge over it, tucked into a little knoll.  I could see going out there if I really wanted a wilderness experience and didn't want to run into town to check out the restaurants or if I wanted to explore the nearby mountains.

So that is Hope.  I think the hope for gold is what started this little village.  Few people drive the 15 miles off the Seward Highway to check it out, but it is a cute little place with some good hiking (Gull Rock, Hope Point, the Resurrection Trail and the old mine and falls).  We'll be back because we need to climb Hope Point, we may want to explore the old mine and mountains above it (more on that in another blog post), and we'll be doing Resurrection Pass again sometime.  Plus we have to check out Discovery Cafe!

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