I have lived in Anchorage for more than 20 years, hiked many hundreds of times on the Anchorage hillside trail system, and had the greatest hike of my life on Sunday, Sept 18th.
I had just returned home on Saturday evening, Sept 17, from conducting guided brown bear hunts out in western Alaska for the last three weeks. I was feeling both physically and mentally wiped out from hiking the western Alaska “lumpy” tundra in addition to the constant light rain, hard rain, horizontal rain, and more rain. Imagine my alarm when my wife, a “born again hiker” starting this past April, asked me to hike with her to the top of Wolverine Peak on the Anchorage hillside starting early Sunday morning! This is an 11 mile roundtrip-hike, with more than a third of the hike steeply uphill (hard on the cardio system) and the same third then steeply downhill (hard on the leg muscles and joints). Little did I know that this would be my greatest hike ever!
Although I had just returned from western Alaska with the tundra blazing in fantastic fall colors, I had somehow forgotten about the beauty of our nearby Chugach State Park mountains, on the edge of Anchorage, also ablaze with the red, pink, and yellow colors of fall. And while the fall colors are fantastic, the wildlife we viewed on this day was astonishing. First, near the start of the uphill section, we rounded a corner and had a large black bear walking on the trail only twenty yards before us. As we walked forward and closed the distance to about twelve yards I shouted and the northbound bear down-loaded about six quarts of blueberries out his south end as he sprinted away at maximum bear speed. Then, farther up the brushy uphill section of trail we saw a dozen moose in the bottom of the canyon, including three really nice bulls. The first bull we located when we heard it thrashing its horns in the brush. The next two bulls were located after we heard them smacking and knocking their horns together trying to decide who was the biggest and baddest bull in the valley. In addition, we could hear the first bull we viewed grunting and his lady friends were cow-calling. After reaching the summit and returning down the trail into the brush we saw two young and smallish brown bears, “kick-outs” and away from momma bear probably since May. We saw them as one was standing upright and rubbing its back on the sign post that directed the trail towards the summit of Wolverine Peak. After one got a good back-rub, the second one took the place of the first one, rubbing its back up and down on the trail post. Like the prior black bear, they ran off the trail and into the brush after I "talked at them" to let them know how tough I was <grin>. So, between the fantastic fall colors of the mountain vegetation, and the wildlife viewed it turned out to be a fine hiking day, the greatest of many hundreds of hikes on the Anchorage hillside. (I wish my tired legs agreed with my mind.)
While I was gone guiding my client-hunters out in western Alaska I received two forum PMs, two Emails, ands two telephone recordings. To the four friends who PMed and emailed me…..thanks for your messages and well-wishing support. I had a great time and was successful on my western Alaska blast-and-cast brown bear rafting expeditions. Concerning the two telephone recordings...good luck addressing your intoxicant addiction.
I hope that all of the forum members can find the time to get in a few more great hikes and rafting weekends before our winter (soon) arrives. I believe each of us can hike our way to greater health, both physically and emotionally. And rafting is always great for some soul searching examinations.
Have any other forum members recently enjoyed the local trails around Anchorage or anywhere else in southcentral?
The moose, as well as the long lens photographers, are arriving in the traditional moose rutting areas all around power line pass. Get out there and hike. View some critters while the weather and temperatures are pleasant, before everything turns white.
Life Is Good.