Finding serenity at Lost Lake
Lost Lake on the Kenai Peninsula, as seen looking west toward Martin Pass. At left are the twin peaks of 5,700-foot Mt. Ascension.
Frank E. Baker
“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.”
On April 26th we’d made the seven-mile hike to the lake on Primrose Trail over hard-packed snow machine tracks. But on this crystal clear, bluebird afternoon, there were no riders to be seen. In fact, we didn’t see a soul the entire day.
I didn’t realize how precious the serenity was. A day after the hike, I viewed a YouTube video of Lost Lake snow machining, and it was an unbelievable bee hive of activity. The high-pitched whining of machines filled the air, and there was hardly a stretch of snow that wasn’t covered by tracks.
On the same day I listened to an interview with a pioneer Alaskan via the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) Oral History Program. She complained about how snow machines have dramatically changed Lost Lake in winter, noting that on narrow parts of the trail it’s become dangerous for people snowshoeing or skiing when machines are screaming along at 50 miles per hour and faster.
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I’m not one to complain about snow machines, since I often use their trails to access backcountry areas. I pick and choose my times to avoid conflicts, and apparently I’d made the right call on April 26.
We packed our cross-country skis on our backs, but didn’t opt to ski around the lake very long before heading down. The packed, often icy trail was much too fast for skis, so we walked most of the way.
On the hike down the trail we stopped by an old cabin that once belonged to Alaska mining engineer Charles Hubbard, who came into the area in the early 1900s and worked several gold claims. My family knew Charles Hubbard and his wife Orabelle back in the 1940s and 1950s, and we often visited his home at Mile 17 off the Seward Highway. Charles Hubbard died in 1969 at age 100 as one of Alaska’s most noted miners — in the early 1900s he even actually rubbed elbows with Wyatt Earp in Nome.
Breath of Life Run
Every August there is a run/walk on the Lost Lake trail to raise funds for cystic fibrosis. Signup for the event began in April and this year the field was filled within hours. For more information on the event, visit www.lostlakerun.org
I participated in the event many years ago, and quickly realized that the Lost Lake area is too beautiful to run through. So I returned to the area a couple of years later for a three-day camping trip, which included an ascent of 5,700-foot Mt. Ascension.
A hike to Lost Lake in summer is a “must do” for Alaskans. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Sound of Music,” and recall the scene of Julie Andrews singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music,” in alpine meadows, then you’ll laugh when you find yourself singing that song at Lost Lake. It’s hands down one of the most stunningly gorgeous spots in Alaska.
And in summer, you might feel compelled to exclaim: “serenity now!” in the style of George’s father in the Seinfeld TV series.
Frank Baker is a freelance columnist who lives in Eagle River. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.