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A Fat Old lady Takes Up Climbing
The Year Six Journal
Autumn 2005


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Our early Fall weather has been rainy and cloudy, but not terribly cold. Saturday was the first nice day in a long time, so I didn't want to miss the chance. Flattop was showing a bit of color, even though we haven't had any freezing temperatures. Other hikers were also drawn to our favorite local mountain to enjoy the autumn hues and the rare glimpse of the sun. More rain is predicted for the next few days, but we can hope for a clearing next weekend.

Flattop, 9/10/05

Click the photos above, or links below, to see larger versions:
Jascha and I up on the Flattop Summit, overlooking Powerline Valley
O'Malley Peak and ridge, across Powerline Valley
The mountain, looming over the trail, sports subtle colors of fall
A group stops to catch their breath and enjoy the view
Dwarf Dogwood (bunchberries) add their vibrant tint to the scene
View of Anchorage from a rocky ledge on the summit

There was a little red squirrel in a shady and secluded area of a hemlock tree, very close the the trail, not far from the trailhead. It seemed to feel very safe there, surrounded by the branches. It was eating something (cones?) from the tree. As it finished each one, it would scurry off to pick another, then return to the favored spot. As hikers came along, they would stop and watch the furry critter, amazed at its proximity and cavalier attitude. I was frustrated at all the branches in the way, and the poor lighting, but took this picture anyway: Little red squirrel, enjoying life along the Flattop Trail

It's been a very wet fall, but Sunday wasn't too bad, with just some transient showers, and some patches of blue sky. I haven't been up the Crow Pass Trail before and was eager to see it. And I was not disappointed. It was beautiful. I even got to watch a bear, waaaaay down in the valley, foraging for berries. It was much too far away to get a decent picture, but I tried anyway. (Click to see the distant bear.) We hiked for a couple hours up the trail, to just a little beyond the first creek crossing, when some thicker gray clouds blew in and chased us back down. The trail is magnificent, and I'll definitely want to spend a day and go further, maybe next summer.

Crow Pass Trail

All the photos in the collage have larger versions; just click on them.
Additional photos from along the trail:
The black bear in the distance (also linked from the text above)
Looking over a cliff at a stream below
Trail scene with a mountain
Tundra color, up close
Tundra lichens, etc.

Two scenes from a week later, on the way to Valdez
Fireweed provides a bit of color to a Eureka, AK scene
Storm clouds rush over a glacier in Thompson's Pass

Conditions have changed significantly since my last climb up Flattop. The beautiful autumn colors are gone. We are having a warm fall in the city, and temperatures were above freezing at the trailhead. However, part way up, snow, frost and ice appeared on the ground and vegetation. The final scramble to the summit was glazed with ice, and very scary. Seeing the snow up on top, I assumed it was cold up there and dressed accordingly, but many others were not wearing gloves or hats, and they looked pretty miserable. On the lower flanks, there were the usual assortment of magpies, chickadees, and red squirrels. Near the summit, a rock ptarmigan, dressed almost entirely in white, was probably startled by my dog. It took flight and found a new hiding spot in the boulders that are all around.
October Flattop

Panoramic view from the Flattop Summit
Frosty designs on greenery along the trail
View of the city through some hemlock trees along the lower trail
A chilly mountain looms over the trail

All photographs are the property of the photographer, Mary Hopson.
If you wish to use them in screensavers or webpages, please leave copyright information intact.

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Enjoy the Flowers Along Alaska's Hiking Trails

Butterflies Along Alaska's Hiking Trails
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