I used to think that cockroaches and furniture hawker Ted Sadler would be the only creatures left alive after a nuclear holocaust or horrible natural disaster. But I’m beginning to think dogs, those canine friends of ours, might claim that distinction.
Hopping over the gray, weather-rounded boulders and cobbles down to the sandy shore of Portage Lake, we were following an important route of miners and much earlier, Alaska Natives and Russian fur traders. But looking out at the lake and the hulking face of Portage Glacier on its far shore, we knew our view was much different than that of those early pioneers. Instead of a three-mile-long lake, a fjord, the glacier was right in their face — a towering cliff of ice that filled a good portion of the valley to a depth of several hundred feet.
Within the summer season, July is typically the “green” season in Chugach State Park, with the wildflowers at their peak. A hike into South Fork’s Hanging Valley Lake during the first week of July was intended to immerse myself in that short-lived “greening.”
I’ve bivouacked on Bold’s summit twice, been stung be a bee on my right eyelid once while on top; heard deep-pitched humming sounds (comparable to what some call the “Taos Hum”), been buzzed by a raven right at the top and had to carry my dog most of the way back from the mountain because he gave out after summiting.
Correction: In my June 27 column I mentioned dinosaurs roaming around northern Alaska during the last ice age — the Pleistocene. That was too late for dinosaurs by about 65 million years, one observant reader was nice enough to point out. I apologize for the error.
I’m a firm believer in never giving up. But I also believe it’s important to know when to quit. I refer here to a mountain that has captured my attention and imagination for 20 years. It’s 7,522-foot Bold Peak that towers over the south end of Eklutna Lake.
If you want a glimpse of what Southcentral Alaska looked like about 10,000-15,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Ice Age, hike up the Harding Ice Field Trail near Seward. Starting at sea level and ascending 4,000 feet over roughly four miles, you’ll come upon a primeval landscape-— a 300-square-mile ocean of ice that caps the Kenai Peninsula, receives about 400 inches of snow each year and spawns about 40 glaciers.
Right up front I should admit that I’m often easily confused, especially about matters that concern computers and the cyber world. I recently sent an e-mail to a friend who is about to relocate to the lower 48, asking if she had landed a job. She e-mailed back that she might “go virtual.”
The Chugach Mountains were a world of snowy whiteness May 19 as I hiked up Twin Peaks trail above Eklutna Lake, one of my favorite areas. It was a sparkling clear day and at 11 a.m. the temperature was in the mid-40s, and rising. Snow had melted off the first half mile of the trail and as I moved into snow up higher, hiking was still manageable without snowshoes.
We long-time Alaskans believe we know our state fairly well, but the observations of outsiders can sometimes make us more appreciative what we have here. I recently e-mailed a friend who lives on the north shore of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands and told her about how green popped out in our trees over a two-day period — an explosion of growth. A resident of Hawaii nearly all of her life, where trees are green year-round, she says she never experienced the emergence of green like we do — not until Hurricane Iniki in 1992. She said the hurricane blew all the leaves off the trees and that it was strange sight for everyone to see them grow back.