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


On to July

Hatcher Pass is one of my favorite hiking areas because of its rugged alpine beauty. I thought it might be a bit early, but I drove up anyway, out of curiosity. The road over the Pass was closed due to heavy snow cover, so I drove as far as the open road went. The entire area was still buried. The trails appeared to be under about 2' of snow, and it was dirty, soft snow at that, not pleasant for walking. Slushy snow was falling. At a slightly lower elevation, it was raining, and signs of spring were everywhere. The willows were just beginning to bloom catkins, and there were a few alpine flowers. The five-pedaled yellow blossom in the collage was found there. Further down the road, the sun was shining, flowers and butterflies were abundant. So, on one trip to Hatcher Pass, my dog and I got to take shorts walks in each of three seasons.

Hatcher Pass

Click on any of the five small photos (above) to see larger versions.
Additional Photos:
Arctic "Angel" White Butterfly, nectaring on small alpine flowers
A marblewing, another type of white butterfly, also enjoyed those flowers. Two views: dorsal & ventral
Falls Creek, near Anchorage, taken a day earlier
Sunset view of Anchorage, seen from GlenAlps
Cut-leaf Anemone at GlenAlps, in sunset lighting

Two years ago I started up the Twin Peaks Trail, at the Eklutna State Park, but started wheezing during the steep ascent. I only lasted about half way. This time I was feeling fine and made it to the end of the trail. The trail ends at a cirque from which the Twin Peaks are clearly visible. For some reason the cirque was full of little black biting bugs that flew into my eyes and mouth. Fortunately, I had a bug net in my backpack. This was the only time I've ever resorted to such desperate measures, but it got me comfortably back down to an altitude with normal bug densities. There were lots of flowers and some butterflies along the way. We started out under partly cloudy skies, which turned to heavy overcast, and then light rain on the way down. In spite of the bugs and the rain, it was a fun hike. All the photos in the collage have links to larger versions.

Twin Peaks collage

 Photo Links:
Eklutna Lake, with Prickly Rose in the foreground, seen from Twin Peaks Trail
View of the Twin Peaks, from the end of the Trail
Unknown small white flowers, Stellaria sp maybe?
Little Spring Azure butterfly on Forget-me-nots
Alpine Milk Vetch, Astragalus alpinus
Additional Pix from Twin Peaks Trail
Closeup of Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, "puddling" in mud
Another flower I can't identify; this one's pink and pretty

Wow, what a crowd! Even by Flattop Solstice standards, this was one busy mountain trail. If you check out the lower left view in full screen, you'll see what I mean. But the people are not a problem. Everyone is helpful and kind. There is seldom any litter left behind. Pleasant conversations strike up all along the trail, and ease the difficulties of the climb. One of the reasons that the trail was so heavily populated was the harsh wind at the summit. On Summer Solstice, the crowds generally gather at the top. Informal parties spring up. Some people even set up tents and spend the night. There was none of that this year. There were strong winds all along the way, but it was really ripping at the summit. I got there at around sunset, about11:40PM, and turned right around for the descent. It was after midnight when we got back to the parking lot, and it was still not truly dark.

Solstice on Flattop

 For larger photos, click here or on the small pictures above:
Long view of Flattop, with large patch of snow, seen from the trail
Sunset view of Anchorage, seen from the Flattop Trail
Hikers cross a steep, rocky field not far from the summit
"Sleeping Lady" Mt. rests in the distance, while hikers scale Flattop
Lapland Diapensia was found among other tundra flowers along the way

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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 On to July 2005

Back to Last Year's Adventures
Back to where it all began in 2000
Enjoy the Flowers Along Alaska's Hiking Trails

Butterflies Along Alaska's Hiking Trails
Contact the Fat Old Lady