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

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After a couple weeks of perfect weather, clouds, wind, and drizzles have completely taken over. Unable to depend on getting decent weather for several hours, I can only go out on short hikes. The Byron Glacier Trail fills that bill. It's still early spring in that glacier filled area, and some red currants were the only flowering plant I found. Fiddlehead ferns were popping up all over, and some had uncoiled. Parts of the trail were still under snow.

Photos of some wildflowers around the area:

Labrador Tea, found in a bog in Girdwood
Bog Rosemary, from the same bog in Girdwood
High Bush Cranberry, flowers and berries (probably last year's)
Northern Black Current, tiny white flowers that usually aren't noticed
Chocolate Lily, an interesting flower, with a horrible smell
Shooting Star, a stunning multicolored flower

With Wednesday being the first day of summer, throngs will hike up Flattop that day (weather permitting). However, I decided to go up Tuesday night and see the sun go down on the last day of spring. There were very few people along the trail, partially because of bad weather in the city. As a general rule, wind and rain will be worse in the mountains. As I looked at the mountains from my house, it appeared that conditions were actually better there. I took a chance, and was rewarded with a delightful climb. I was still on the mountain after midnight to welcome in the first day of summer. (I believe the official Solstice occured at around 4AM, when I was snug in bed.) The sun set after 11:40PM and sky was still light enough to see clearly to climb down the mountainside. Birds were still singing after midnight. There was a different batch of flowers up there this time. All the photos in the collage have links to large versions if you click on them.

More flowers from the hike up Flattop:

A pair of arnicas welcome hikers to the tundra's rock garden
Another view of the "garden", featuring Mountain Avens in the foreground
Alpine Pussytoes, a tiny plant, was found all over, above the treeline
Bell Heather was found near the summit

Other recent photos from around the area:
A Belted Whiteface Dragonfly (AKA "red-waisted") basks on a sidewalk
A common magpie scolds us as we walk along a trail in town
Nagoonberry flower and Starflowers in a city forest
Wild Prickly Rose and Chiming Bells in the same woods
A mother duck hides her babies in some reeds
Chiming Bells grow along Campbell Creek
Two views of an Arctic Skipper Butterfly-- Ventral & Dorsal

Now here's something different! This time I took a tram up Alyeska Mountain, then ran off a cliff. On purpose! It's called paragliding, and it's different from skydiving or hang-gliding. Immediately after the tram ride, I watched a solo paraglider fly off the cliff (photo, lower right). The tandem paragliding rides are for the untrained, such as I. After I made the call, we had to wait several days for a favorable break in the weather. Then the winds started to spring up during my ride, and the guys thought they might have to close down for the rest of the day. It was terrifying, but fun. The pilot, Brian, took the photos of us flying, using a small camera on a long pole. We landed in a soft, soggy bog, that was full of Caltha-leaf Avens. Alyeska is a ski resort in the winter. Some of these photos have large links if you click on them.

One more photo from the paragliding adventure:
I managed to take this one photo from the glider, flying over Girdwood

Visit the Alaska Paragliding website here

More photos from late June:
Sunset over Potter Marsh, in Anchorage, 11:40PM, June 27th
Ducks silouhetted in the sunset
Young bull moose in a nearby bog
Colorful Sheep Mountain, along the Glenn Highway, 6/30
Tsaina River gorge, along the Richardson Highway, 6/30
Worthington Glacier, near Valdez

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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