Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Grace Ridge Revisited 2014

I hiked the Grace Ridge trail 4 years ago with a friend and blogged about it, but thought I'd post some beautiful pictures from our Labor Day trip over there. I had told the kids we would go over there as a family sometime this summer, but either someone was gone or working, or it was rainy, so we didn't make it over. A sunny forecast for Labor Day clinched it: we were going to do it!! Enjoy the scenery.

The tip of Grace Ridge is bathed in early-morning sunshine at 7 a.m. Within a half hour, though there was not another cloud in the sky, a cloud had formed, enveloping the peak of the ridge (and nothing else!)

The water taxi leaving after dropping us at Grace Ridge South trailhead

It is a mini-temperate rain forest at the head of Tutka Bay at one end of the Grace Ridge Trail

Uprooted trees rearranged where the trail wound. The trailwork of cutting downed trees seemed to be quite recent as the cuttings were fragrant pine

A view looking out past Kachemak Bay to Cook Inlet from about halfway up Grace Ridge

The trail heading up...

These crowberries up near the top were sweet and juicy.  Further down the other side they were bitter and seedy

Dramatic view of the ridge as we climb up it, looking down with the head of Tutka Bay in upper right corner

Just beautiful, with some interesting landforms. I had to wonder how the ridges were formed on this ridge!

And then a cloud appeared out of nowhere and socked us in. We could see sunshine on the bays to each side of us, Tutka and Sadie, but up and ahead of us was nothing but cloud, which was a bit disconcerting.

View towards Sadie Cove

Look--more crowberries! A carpet of them!

And the trail heading down, towards our Kayak Beach rendezevous

Looking towards Cook Inlet and Mt. Illiamna, with a cairn marking the trail

The Trail signs are helpful for the folks who are up snowboarding, downhill skiing and telemarking the bowl on Grace Ridge in the winter, so they can find their way back down

Looking back, up toward the Ridge we were about to climb. This is the bowl area that winter recreation enthusiasts enjoy, sometimes into the summer

The video is of Kayak Beach where we were picked up. Mako's sent a landing craft to get us (and 4 others who also hiked the trail that day) as it is easier to load onto than the catamarran when the waves are large like these were. We were a couple hours early so we just laid on the beach and sunned ourselves (no tropical beach, here! I might have had a little bit of my face exposed to the sun, but I had all my layers on!).

The last time I did this hike I noticed steep dropoffs and was more tired (I was also carrying a partially loaded full backpack as I was training for a backpacking trip), but we all agreed this was a pleasant, fairly easy 8-9 mile hike. However, two different people have told me in the past few weeks that they did this hike and it practically did them in, so I think that says more about our conditioning level than the trail!

Overall it was a nice hike, though we all turned into icicles when we stopped for lunch. As long as we were moving we stayed warm, but when we sat down to eat my fingers got so numb I could hardly pick the berries I was sitting by (on!). Getting down 500-800 feet off the top the wind was noticeably warmer and we were able to start shedding layers.

It is a pricey hike at $80 per person for the water taxi, but as a special occasion, it is worth it!

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