A Fat Old Lady Takes Up Climbing

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Conditions were absolutely beautiful, sunny but not too hot. With this nice break in the weather, I hoped to reach the pinnacle on Bird Ridge. So Jascha and I kept plugging along the very steep trail. When I saw a thunder storm develop over Anchorage, I hoped it wouldn't reach us about 20 miles to the south. Just as I reached the elevation where I had the pinnacle in sight, the wind sprung up, dark clouds move over us, and the rain began. You don't want to be on a high point in an electric storm, so we headed back down. Good thing, too, because both of us barely had the energy left to get back to the van. The dog and I were both stumbling on rubber legs. We were a fine old couple helping each other down the trail. :-) Click the photos in the collage for a better view of them, and also check out the list of photo links below.

More scenes from Bird Ridge:

A couple Arctic Fritillary (one very worn) on Elegant Goldenrod
Scene looking east, with tundra roses (shrubby cinquefoil)
Closer look at the flowers, Potentilla fruiticosa
View west, of Turnagain Arm, mud flats, and Kenai Mountains
View south, with Seward Highway below
View north, with threatening clouds, and Sitka Valerian flowers
A green valley, looking southeast
Area of dense Pushki flowers along the trail
Pink Pyrola flowers, one of the wintergreens
Four-parted Gentian, Gentiana propingua
Some pretty flowers, another Gentian species, I think
Marsh Violets, Vioa epipsela

Any day that blue sky appears should not be wasted. We haven't been down to Portage Valley this summer and it's always a beautiful place to visit. We walked the nice easy trail through a woods, alongside the glacial stream. Then we climbed up over the snowfield and into the boulder field. The snowfield stretches across the valley, but has melted enough in recent years to expose acres of gigantic boulders below the glacier. They're fun to climb on. Of course, Jascha really enjoys romping and rolling in the snow, especially in the summer when it's a rare treat. Click on the collage pix and the links below.

More photos from August '08:

Two views of Alpine Heuchera along the Byron Glacier Trail:
Whole plant / tiny flowers, closer

Two views of poisonous Water Hemlock growing in Little Campbell Lake
Whole plant / closer view of flowers

Red-necked Grebes, at home in Little Campbell Lake
Both parents and the nest (in front) / closer view of one baby and egg

Any day with just a hint of clearing is appreciated this summer. It's another gray day, but without much rain, so good enough to check out what's going on along the Flattop Mountain Trail. Autumn is arriving up there with red bearberry foliage tinting the slopes. There were a variety of berries up there, and the crowberries were especially delicious. The snow on the north side never fully melted, and new snow will be arriving soon. Click on the thumbnails for full-screen versions of the photos.


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