Monday, May 30, 2016

Falls Creek Trail--Turnagain Arm

The Falls Creek Trail has been on my "to hike" list for many years, a mere 20 minutes south of Anchorage. We've started hiking it before but we didn't have much time. After the state track meet was over on Saturday, the weather was nice and we had a sliver of time on Sunday before we needed to be home so we decided to check it out.

The Falls Creek Trail follows Falls Creek, a wild, rushing stream

The trail follows Falls Creek nearly the whole way, sometimes quite close (in a few areas the trail was being eaten into the stream!) and other times nearby but not quite so present. It is an "uphill all the way" trail. The trail descriptions we read varied from 2.7 to 4.0 miles long, and from a 2700 foot to 4000 foot climb, likely varying depending on where the 'end' of the trail was considered: at the end of official trail or at the top of some surrounding peak.

From the upper reaches of the trail, a peek of Turnagain Arm can be seen

The trail was shaded by tall poplar trees the first 45 minutes of climbing (for us; not necessarily for others depending on their pace), then was partly shaded by the shorter alders. We never did climb out of the alders and above treeline in the 60 minutes of ascending. The trail was not too steep compared to, say, the Skyline Trail, so it was comfortable hiking both up and down. The day was sunny and hot (70 degrees!) so that added to the challenge as we Alaskans aren't used to such heat.

The kids kept going to the saddle at the trail's end, then climbed partly up one of the peaks. For them it was 2 1/2 hours round trip at their fit, young pace. Doug and I just did an hour up and 45 minutes back, which was a nice break-in for an early-season climb to get our legs conditioned.

This was just a comfortable hike that hit the spot for a fairly low-energy day for us. The kids had wanted to hike the 15-mile Lost Lake Trail but I am happy they compromised with this one. It will end up on our 'to hike' list more often now. As a bonus, the parking is free in the small pull-off parking area off the Seward Highway.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Pictures of Kachemak Bay--From the Air

As I've traveled across the bay for work the past year and a half, I have snapped a few pictures on occasion and thought I would share a few.

Homer is not as beautiful (this is looking out East End Road and "the bench"), as the view from Homer is!

Boat trainings are common in the spring, drawing in dozens of boaters

View of the Homer Harbor and the commercial part of the spit--shops, fish processing and Land's End

This is looking towards the base of the spit on a fairly low tide from the looks of it, as at a high tide all this is visible is the ribbon of road
MacDonald Spit and the mouth of Jakolof Bay to the left of it. Jakolof Bay is where the road to Seldovia starts

A beautiful view up one of the bays

Seldovia across the bay from the spit (lots of spits in this area!)
Another view of Seldovia; airstrip on the left; harbor on the right

The mouth of English Bay, looking towards Port Graham, which is about halfway up the bay on the right

A view of the Kenai Mountains, with only the tips showing today

Nanwalek, with the spit on the right doubling as the runway

Loving the curved runway of Nanwalek, with mountains on each end

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Natural Rose Pruners

As I was putting together my morning smoothie today, I turned away from the window and was startled when I turned back and there was a big 'ole momma moose standing right outside my kitchen window, munching on my rosebush. She went around it systematically, tearing off the fresh growth. Then she wandered off and junior (as I call the one-year-old moose who haven't been run off yet) sauntered into view and he started munching the lower branches that momma left. He too systematically went all around the bush, and then he followed his momma over to the lawn to graze.

Luckily, I don't care for that rosebush, and in fact I would be delighted if they would eat it to the ground. It is interesting how the moose learn where there is food they like, and those places become part of their "route." A few days ago a collared moose was eating my rosebush in the front yard. We'd been seeing him hanging around, but it was his first appearance we'd seen of him in our yard.

So maybe you get tired of reading about moose, but they do provide plenty of entertainment and diversion. The sandhill cranes are back and we see them stalking up the road so they entertain us too!