To start, a brief history on the settling of the 49th state. People came over about 14K years ago when an ice bridge formed between Asia and present-day Alaska. I believe they are now only separated by 100 miles or so in the Bering Strait. First were the Athapascans, which became Native Americans, followed by Inuits. I believe there were other tribes that either broke off from these original or came over in another wave but this is what I remember. Water then reclaimed the bridge.
Fast-forward into the 1700s and Russians began outposts in Alaska working the fur trade followed by Europeans and Americans in boats in search of whale oil and the fabled Northwest Passage. Settlements like Sitka grew and these foreigners harassed and decimated the native population in similar fashion to the rest of world.
Eventually Russia needed money for their struggles in the Crimean War and sold their interest in Alaska to America. Americans traded rum for pelts, battles ensued, missionaries tried their best and then gold was discovered. Thousands flooded one settlement after another until the easy to reach gold was uncovered. Some settlements were abandoned, while others remained and grew into present-day cities like Nome, Homer, Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Picture from plane as past Mt Ranier in Washington
On to the trip. I arrived around 10pm, grabbed a rental car and stayed first night outside Anchorage. The hotel was packed with Asian tourists in brand new Fly Fishing vests and hats. Most of the other tourists were gone for the short summer season because it was after Labor Day. I was hoping to get some solitude on my hikes and an explosion of Fall colors. It was pouring rain, a trend that continued basically every day of the trip!
Had a Reindeer omelette for breakfast and was off. I made my first stop at Wal-Mart to get some supplies for car camping and Bear Spray. $35 for a can of spray. I am sure the airport has a billion cans of these somewhere since you can’t fly home with them. I tested it out in the parking lot, seemed to work on homeless population so I should be ok as they are more aggressive than bears. But in all seriousness, the streets of Anchorage are crawling with mentally ill people at 5am. I was up early cause my personal time clock was all screwed up. In an area that is freezing cold and gets 22 hours of light or dark depending on the season, you are bound to have high drug/suicide/etc.
Started drive south towards Seward. Stopped along way as it was pouring and I was in no rush to get to first trailhead in this downpour
After a while of sitting there and trying to sleep I said, screw it and drove up to Crow Pass Trail
This was a hike outside of Girdwood that was 8 miles in total (4 up/4 back). The rain occasionally stopped for 5 minutes to grab a couple shots. No one else on the trail today
When I got up on top of pass it leveled off and the rain stopped. The hike continued on the backside of the pass but I stopped at the glacier for a bite to eat before retracing my steps.
Saw a nice A-frame cabin you can rent near the pass
Headed back down. Felt good. A nice test for the first day
The rain returned as I headed to a nearby resort. I was not staying at the resort, but I did stop in the parking lot and make ramen noodles out of my trunk in their parking lot. Why I do these things I don’t know. I could easily book a room and afford it but I prefer to torture myself.
I did a short 5 mile hike behind the resort called Winner Creek Trail. This was the extent of Alaskan wildlife I would see today.
The trail ended at a Hand Crank Tram across a river. The Tram was out of service so I took a break there before retracing my steps.
Since the rain had slowed, I drove back to the Seward highway to retrace my steps a bit in hopes of taking some pictures
I went into Girdwood and had a great Salmon dinner at place called the Double Musky. It was an amazing place full of local color that rarely exists today in our Starbucks and McDonalds world.
I asked where I could put up my tent for a night and they all kinda struggled with telling me where the local campground was in town. The town was like 12 buildings. I am always amazed when I pull into small places and they don’t know every inch of the place. Anyway, we found the site behind the fire station, but when I got there it doubled as a Frisbee Golf Course and I felt like I would not have a peaceful night. I went back on the highway and travelled 20 miles further south the trail head for my next hike and camped there.
It was a good start to the trip. I was hoping for less rain and more wildlife, but overall quite positive.