A Fat Old Lady Takes Up Climbing
My Seventh Year in the Mountains
Autumn 2006

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Lousy summer weather has persisted into September, with frequent winds, clouds, and rain. On top of that, I've managed to injure my shoulder carrying instruments on the job, so now I can't put on a backpack. Even my small hydration pack is too much. The Rendezvous Peak Trail, in Arctic Valley near Anchorage, is only about two miles one way, short enough to do without water. And there are berries along the way, yummy and juicy enough to slake my thirst. The clouds and breeze kept us cool and comfortable all the way up and down. Signs of Fall colors were everywhere, and very beautiful. There were stunning views in all directions around the summit. All the small photos in the collage have full-screen links; just click on 'em and enjoy.

More photos from the Rendezvous Peak Trail
A stream cascades through beautiful autumn colors
Red foliage of fireweed along the trail, berrypickers in the distance
Harp Mountain across the valley, tarns, a colorful meadow
Scenic view from Rondezvous Peak summit
Another view into the valley, from the summit
A battered, old Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly

A few pix from Anchorage
A moody sunset over Taku Lake
Devil's Club, a large fully thorned plant, in fall colors
A tranquil scene by Cheney Lake

Soggy weather continues, but sun was promised-- okay, "predicted"-- for the 24th. I picked a trail I'd never climbed before, down on the Kenai Peninsula, and drove down to the trailhead the night before. As you can probably see in the pix below, the sun did not make its scheduled appearance, at least not while we were on the trail. The path is extremely steep, wet, narrow, badly rutted, full of tree roots... just basically really bad. I grumbled quite a bit, especially when it appeared that there would be no view to justify all the work. However, there were a couple times when the clouds lifted just enough to let me get a glimpse of two small lakes down in the valley. Click the little ones to see the big ones...

More photos from the weekend:

One more view from the Skyline Trail, with two lakes

Trumpeter Swans in Potter Marsh, in Anchorage: view one / view two
A bull moose, further down the Seward Hwy: view one / view two

With the weather unremittingly bad, and the month waning, I drove up to the GlenAlps Trailhead to see if I might be able to climb Flattop. The answer is "no". A light rain was coming at me horizontally and the footing was slippery, so I opted to take the easy loop around Blueberry Hill. It was nice to be up in alpine conditions, and there were interesting views through mist and swiftly moving clouds. Autumn's bright colors were gone from the mountain, with a dull, rusty hue taking hold. I did not realize then that a great transformation would take place overnight. "Termination Dust" is what we call the first snow in the mountains, and its first sign this year was August 19th. [photo] But the morning of September 29th, snow completely covered the front range, almost down to the inhabited foothills. Winter is close at hand, it would appear.

All the small photos in the collage (above) have large versions if you click on them.
One more scene from the Loop Trail, gazing down on the paved Overlook 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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