THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME IN ALASKA. MY SISTER-IN-LAW AND I BOOKED ROUND TRIP TICKETS FROM PORTLAND FOR $150 ON ALASKA AIRLINES FOR MY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND, AND YES, LITERALLY 3.5 DAYS IN ALASKA. WHAT I HADN'T REALIZED ABOUT GOING TO ALASKA IN JUNE WAS THAT WE WERE THERE FOR THE SUMMER SOLSTICE, MEANING 24 HOURS OF DAYLIGHT & PLENTY OF TIME FOR ACTIVITIES.
WE FLEW INTO ANCHORAGE AT 12:30AM, THE MOUNTAINS STILL GLOWING WITH LIGHT. WE MET WITH TWO FRIENDS IN EAGLE RIVER, ABOUT 20 MINUTES FROM ANCHORAGE. I WAS RESTLESS FROM THE DAYLIGHT AND COULDN'T WAIT TO TAKE A RUN AROUND EAGLE RIVER TO EXPLORE THE NEIGHBORHOOD TRAILS.
Marmot Mountain :: Located in Hatcher's Pass about an hour from Anchorage at Fishhook Winter, if you've reached Independence Mine you've gone too far. This is a 5,000 ft. elevation climb. Unlike Oregon, we concluded that Alaskan's don't believe in switchbacks. This hike is a dirt under fingernail steep climb to the top. It took us about 2 hours to reach the summit, and when we did, its easy to admit that we were both almost in tears, not just from the ice cold wind but from the 365 panoramic views of the largest mountain ranges on the planet. Did I mention we were virtually the only two people on this mountain and we sat gazing at the mountains until about 8PM.
MATANUSKA GLACIER LION'S HEAD :: Our second ascent was in the Matanuska Glacier Valley on another, even steeper, lower elevation hike called Lion's Head. Located at mile marker 106, there's a dirt road you take about .5 mile in & climb over a green gate, keep to your left. I'd recommend bear spray on this hike, unlike Marmot Mountain, you're near a river & wooded area. As you climb Lion's Head, your bear fears slow as it becomes rockier and more exposed. The views at the top are unbelievable. We stood with our faces to the sun and this ice cold snowy glacier behind us. You can hike down to the actual glacier and play around on the ice, but since these glaciers are basically endangered, I didn't feel comfortable stomping around on it...its pretty enough just to look at.
THE BUTTE :: LOCATED IN PALMER
FLAT TOP :: ACCESSIBLE HIKE IN ANCHORAGE WITH BREATHTAKING VIEWS
OTHER FUN THINGS
KITEBOARDING :: Contact my friends Marvat & Tom to paraglide, kite board, or paddle board in the Wasilla/Anchorage area. Consider their snowkiting clinics in the Spring. They are amazing, tell them Jen & Deirdre sent you!
What I Packed
Bear Spray :: An absolute must, carry with you on all hikes.
I RANG IN MY BIRTHDAY AT 2AM WITH A WOOD BURNING FIRE OUTSIDE THE CABIN, PADDLE BOARDING ON A GLACIAL LAKE, HULA HOOPING ON THE PIER, DANCING IN MY UNDERWEAR, AND FALLING ASLEEP TO WHAT I THINK WAS THE SOUNDS OF WOLVES HOWLING IN THE DISTANCE.