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.
There are so many skiing destinations in Chugach State Park, it’s oftentimes difficult to choose. But in early April a good friend who lives on Anchorage’s Hillside, Carl Portman, made up my mind for me and suggested we point our skis uphill for a five-mile trek into Rabbit Lake, which lies about 3,000 feet at the base of North and South Suicide Peaks.
“It’s so peaceful here,” I told my son-in-law Nate Hanes as we rested on a snowy knoll overlooking Lost Lake, on the Kenai Peninsula. “It’s going to be hard to leave.”
With school graduation season, I was thinking about young people and how they are preparing for the future in an increasingly competitive world. I was reminded of a very short conversation I had many years ago when I was student at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
As we begin to observe Mother’s Day, I started thinking again about my mom and what a remarkable person she was. Of course I’m biased. That’s an importantpart of a son’s job description, I would think.
If something was “cool” back in the 1960s, is it equally “cool” today? I’m no expert in etymology — the study of languages, words and their origins — but I’ve always found it fascinating how our language changes and evolves over time.
On March 26 a friend and I hiked from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim to the river and back up to the rim in about 10-1/2 hours. The Park Service’s warnings not to attempt a descent to the Colorado River and back up on the same day are dire and ubiquitous. They make it sound like one is entering Mt. Everest’s death zone without oxygen. In some ways I can understand their position. People have tried to make the hike during the summer months when the canyon bottom becomes an oven set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Many rescues have been required, and some people have died.
April 5 was the last in a string of bluebird days that were sure to end soon. A few other folks were enjoying the bright sunshine, appearing in the distance as small black dots as I peered out across the lake’s expanse. Drawing closer, I noticed that some were skate skiing and dashing quickly toward the lake’s far shore.
Conditions were ideal on March 6 as I skied along the frozen Knik River in a set ski track that had apparently been put in earlier that morning. The sky was deep blue, the sun felt warm on my face and there was no wind coming out of the east at the terminus of Knik Glacier.