Archive of: Mountain Echoes

Issue

Title

Biking to the coastal trail relatively easy — except for the headwinds May Issue 5 2012

Biking to the coastal trail relatively easy — except for the headwinds

I always wanted to see if I could bike from Eagle River to the end of the Anchorage Coastal Trail and back—roughly 45 miles by my calculation. I finally got around to it May 10 under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s, with green just popping out in the trees.

PEPPER PEAK, BIRD RIDGE, SOUTH FORK ARE RITES OF SPRING May Issue 4 2012

PEPPER PEAK, BIRD RIDGE, SOUTH FORK ARE RITES OF SPRING

Climbing south-facing slopes like 5,450-foot Pepper Peak above Eklutna Lake, 3,600-foot Bird Ridge overlooking Turnagain Arm and 5,001-foot Harp Mountain in South Fork have become annual rites of Spring for Southcentral Alaska scramblers. In April and May these mountains provide a nice sun break after the long winter and serve as good conditioning hikes for future summer outings.

Do we control our “stuff,” or does  it control us? May Issue 3 2012

Do we control our “stuff,” or does it control us?

One of the funniest bits I ever heard by the late comedian George Carlin was the one on “stuff,” the material possessions that we so dearly prize and covet. He talked about how we meticulously have our ‘stuff’ arranged and displayed in our homes, in hierarchical fashion, and how when we travel we take some of our ‘stuff’ with us, kind of “satellite” to our stuff, so that we have familiar surroundings and don’t get homesick for the main body of ‘stuff’ we keep at home.

Thinking big in a small space May Issue 2 2012

Thinking big in a small space

I concealed my displeasure when my lovely wife switched the television channel from the NBA basketball game to Oprah Winfrey. As I started to rise from the sofa to do something “constructive,” such as go out in the garage and think about reorganizing things — you know, just the thinking part — something on the program caught my attention. Oprah was in Mumbai, India, and in this segment she was visiting its poorest inhabitants.

Know the fitness level of your canine hiking companions May Issue 1 2012

Know the fitness level of your canine hiking companions

Prudent travelers make a concerted effort to match fitness and skill levels among members of a group on backcountry excursions. It’s common sense, promotes safety and adds to everyone’s enjoyment. But do we use the same amount of discretion with our pets? On an early summer climb in the Chugach Mountains several years ago, I severely miscalculated the endurance of my dog — a two-year-old standard poodle — and put us both in jeopardy.

Can you hear the snow melting? April Issue 5 2012

Can you hear the snow melting?

April is almost gone and the small patch of ground that was to become a garden in my front yard is still covered by a foot of snow. My back yard, which receives about as much sun as the inside of the Whittier tunnel, has three feet of snow that will probably not melt until July.

Ruth Glacier is a magical place April Issue 4 2012

Ruth Glacier is a magical place

This week I’d like to take you on an excursion to a glacier theatre...a theatre of eternal ice...a theatre surrounded by dizzying, snow-encrusted peaks, sheer granite walls, a restless theatre of echos, rumbling avalanches; a pensive, brooding theater of silence...a theatre where time suspends itself into an endless beginning.

April Issue 3 2012

Saying goodbye to winter in the Alaska Range

I greet spring earlier than just about anyone I know — sometimes in late February — when the sun slowly begins to rise higher above the horizon, emitting a slight trace of warmth. Conversely, I hold onto winter longer than most. I’m not as winter-obsessed, however, as a guy who frequents the Lane Glacier in Hatcher Pass. In a log book at the Lane Hut, located just below the glacier, he reported skiing every month of the year for several years. That’s true dedication.

Alaska Flag Song stirs powerful emotions April Issue 2 2012

Alaska Flag Song stirs powerful emotions

The first two lines of the Alaska Flag Song: Bold, evocative, an invitation to listen, to explore.

Scores of Alaskans turn out for celestial light show March Issue 5 2012

Scores of Alaskans turn out for celestial light show

The evening of March 8, a Thursday, was nothing short of a celestial extravaganza. A full moon vied with the aurora borealis to create a spectacular light show across the skies, while Venus and Jupiter played tag as they crouched above the western horizon.