Back to July
A Fat Old lady Takes Up Climbing
After weeks of clouds, rain, and cool temperatures, August has provided a welcome change-- sunshine. Under beautiful blue skies, I hiked the Byron Glacier Trail and planned to cross over the snowfield. Surprise! The snowfield has mostly melted this year! And the Glacier had noticeably receded. After crossing what's left of the snowfield, we entered acres of rocks and boulders that have been carelessly strewn about by the glacier beating its hasty retreat. The sound of rushing water underneath often accompanied the climb across the boulder field, which Jascha found disconcerting. The loss of the snowfield was more upsetting to me. Each year, I see more of the tundra overgrown by larger plants that shouldn't be there, but this rapid melting at Byron Glacier is the most dramatic evidence of warming that I've seen. Still, the area remains stunningly beautiful and we had a lovely hike on a perfect day in Alaska.
Click here for large versions of the collage pix:
Gorgeous sunny conditions continue here in Alaska. The last time I visited Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, clouds and rain covered the area, so I went back to see it in better weather. This time I went to the north side of the very large park, to try the Skookum Volcano Trail. It starts out as a fairly clear path in a lovely forest, that meets up with a stream. From there, the "trail" basically follows the stream, sometimes crossing it, and is marked just with rock cairns placed along the way. When the trail leaves the stream, the instruction (apparently written a few years ago) advise hikers to scramble up tundra to a summit. Unfortunately, thick scrub willows and alders have sprung up on that tundra. The dog and I struggled to get through them on the steep side of the mountain. Every time we thought we'd found a way, we would be stopped by impenetrable brush. With the summit very close at hand, we were forced to turn back. Frustrating. (A park ranger later told me that the tundra had become overgrown in just the last two years.) But still, it was a beautiful location and a perfect day. The creek was full of colorful rocks and volcanic formations were all around.
Click here for large versions of the collage photos:
A high pressure system is "blocked" over the area, and no one is complaining, in spite of the persistent haze from the sea and wildfires. The warm and windless weather called me into the Chugach Mountains at the Bird Ridge Trail. We climbed up to the subalpine meadow that opens up to views in both directions. There were late summer flowers, and plenty of Serviceberries along the way. The berries are seedy, but sweet. In May and June, their beautiful and showy white flowers brighten many of our trails. Click here to see Serviceberry in flowers.
Here are larger photos of the plants:
Early August brought us some of the most perfect weather we've seen this year. Then the rain started... . With the precious summer days dwindling away, I was becoming impatient. Yesterday, I drove up the Flattop's trailhead under threatening skies, just hoping for the best. We had barely started up the trail when a violent thunder storm hit. The hike was over. Today was overcast, but not so scary looking, and we made it up and down fine, with just some light sprinkles. Judging from the number of folks on the trail, it seems I was not alone in my impatience.
Photos from the collage
All photographs are the property of the photographer,
|Back to July|