|Wildflowers on trail up Hope Point trail|
Friday evening while our family was flopped out in the living room after a busy day, Denver consulted his iPod and announced that the weather for Hope on Saturday was sunshine. Both kids looked at me expectantly, and I knew what question was coming: "Can we climb Hope Point tomorrow?" I mentally took a deep breath and said, "I'm game."
A few years ago we climbed Hope Point at the end of a 10-day mountain biking and mountain climbing vacation. We were near the top, with the actual top an unknown distance above us, when the clouds rolled in and obliterated our view. We made the executive decision to go down rather than push on to the top since we were tired--exhausted from days of breaking down our bodies. The kids have never forgotten it, and every summer summiting Hope Point comes up as a goal. Each summer we watch the weather on the weekends to see when we might make it happen as we didn't want a repeat of being socked in by clouds, and the trail is way steeper than anything I would want to do when it is slick.
|Trailhead for Hope Point and Gull Rock|
The trailhead is for both Gull Rock, a 5.7 mile one way hike (the most non-descript, boring hike we have done in Alaska), and Hope Point (probably one of the most beautiful hikes we've done in Alaska). Shortly after we crossed the bridge and turned up the hill for the Hope Point trail, we were puzzled. None of us recognized the trail, which was unusual. I have a mind for trails and they tend to be imprinted in my mind. I couldn't figure out why it was completely unfamiliar.
|Trail construction sign: rolling rocks|
|Lower trail, below treeline|
|Climbing up higher; substantial cuts for the new trail|
|Feeling like a highway across the once-remote meadow|
|Eventually the scars of the trailwork will grow over|
|A nice touch: stone steps through one tricky area|
|The meadow that a few years ago one had to climb straight up|
Once we got above treeline the trail improvements stopped and it was the "old trail" and while there were still plenty of folks up there, it felt slightly more remote. The herd of wild goats weren't grazing above the saddle, which wasn't a surprise. The views are still amazing.
|The trail heading up with the goal the peak on the right|
|Turnagain Arm and the view towards Girdwood|
|More trail up, from the saddle. The last 15 minutes to the top|
|The view of Anchorage from Hope Point|
|The view of Hope from Hope Point|
We were sharing the top with some other folks. Amazingly there was barely a whiffle of a breeze and it was warm, so for one of the first times ever I sat comfortably in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt on top of a mountain in Alaska. Aurora's new thing is to bring her juggling balls up and juggle at the top of mountains we climb or hikes we go on, so we got the requisite picture of her doing so.
And for those who aren't inclined to make the 3630 foot climb, here is a video of the view, starting with the view to the north and Anchorage. On a clear day Denali would be clearly visible from here.
The spec sheet about the trail seems to have been updated since the trailwork began (it says 6/14, and they have been doing improvements for a couple years).
|The trail specs appear to be updated with the new trail|
There are plenty of other beautiful mountain views in Alaska. I am not sure why this particular mountain was chosen for such extensive trail renovations. I am so mixed about it. The joy of climbing a mountain is tempered by the fact that it was way easier than climbing any mountain should be. The meadow that was the glorious highlight of the hike is now criss-crossed by switchbacks and piles of dirt from the cuts. Time will soften those scars. I'll get used to the "new" trail and it will keep it accessible to be as I get older and climbing mountains gets more difficult. But I will still treasure the time we hiked it and it was the prototype of what climbing a mountain in Alaska means to us.