Hiking the Chugach – Final Moments in Alaska

Mt McKinley, Alaska

A strange sensation came over me…one that I had not felt almost this entire trip. I was no longer cold, and there was something strange burning my face…something familiar…could it be, THE SUN!!

After a week of gray and rainy weather, we were granted one day of spectacular sunshine to close out our Alaskan adventure. The sky was a magical blue color, and everything around us was vibrant and took on new meaning as we walked through the Chugach National Forest just 30 minutes away from Anchorage. I took full advantage and wore out my finger taking pictures of everything in site. We had six hours to kill before our dreaded flight home, so what better way to do it than to take a tough hike in the hot sun, get very sweaty with no hotel to wash up, then sit next to some poor guy for an eight-hour flight? 🙂

As a bonus, Mt McKinley was visible from where we were. After driving for two days to get to the bottom of the tallest mountain in North America and never seeing it, we were now looking at it from hundreds of miles away. Awesome!

We walked the powerline pass, and even up the same trail for the peak that I climbed last year. Being there brought back so many memories, and I felt both the fear that I felt from a near fall (I still have the white shirt with torn and blood-stained sleeves) and the urge to get up there and give it another go! We hiked up the trail for quite some time before it got so steep and rocky that we had to turn back. Dad has a bad foot, but was hard core and never complained once in the miles and miles we walked this trip.

Alaska fireweed

The Alaskan Fireweed was blooming everywhere as well as cotton plants and lots of other vegetation. The whole place was alive, and out to celebrate this bit of sunshine in what was left of a short summer. We watched closely for bald eagles, but unlike last year, never saw one. The sun was warm, the weather was in the upper 60s, and a crisp breeze was constantly blowing across our faces as we hiked above the timberline. People that live in Anchorage are so lucky to have such an outdoor asset so close; the Chugach is good enough reason to live here! This is the way that I always want to remember Alaska.

chugach, alaska

After exhausting ourselves on the trails, we pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot, not to eat, but to pack up and wash! I taught my dad the darker arts of vagabonding as we made full use of a public bathroom for changing and taking a “field shower” with handy wipes. More than once I have been run out of places for getting naked, in fact,  the last time I was in London. But hey — the guy sitting next to me on the overnight flight was probably thankful.

Sore, overpacked, and too tired to eat, we dragged ourselves into Anchorage airport and fought our way through the check-in. I was sad to leave so many memories behind. I do not know when or if I will make it back up here, but I know that if I ever do, the bears will still be here waiting for me.

This was the perfect end to a perfect father and son adventure, one that I will remember forever.

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2 Responses to “Hiking the Chugach – Final Moments in Alaska”

  1. I too love the north. I lived in the Yukon for 8 years and now live in the SF Bay Area. Big change! I miss the north. I love the picture of the Fireweed, so beautiful!

  2. good

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