Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aug 6 – Anchorage Redux

Driving to and from Anchorage along the Seward highway is amazing, with the cliffs on one side and water on the other.  Just beautiful.
Upon arriving back into Anchorage, we spent the next few days taking care of chores, such as dump tank, food shopping, blog posting, etc.  We also drove over to the Flattop Mountain trail head seeing as how it was supposedly Alaska’s most popular trail.  Although we've run along some much better trails, Flattop did not disappoint.  It was only a few miles to the summit and provided incredible views overlooking the city.  It was drizzling and so the views were not as far reaching as they could be but it was still quite impressive. 
There were long stretches of trail leading away from the summit of Flattop that Vanessa and I planned on running the following day but the rain storm intensified and we couldn't do it due to the steep, dirt road leading up to the trailhead.  Instead, me met up with some friends for dinner, called it a day, and then left the following day.

Top of Flattop Mountain

Monday, August 26, 2013

Aug 1 - Nikiski/Girdwood

While we were touring the peninsula, I figured we should head north as far as possible on the westerly side.  Not much to offer except a lot of oil industry stuff.  A few lakes looked promising but offered no access and we had to pass.  We managed to find some beach access near a dock and parked there for the night.  Great ocean views with a beach that the dog could play on.  An occasional helicopter would buzz over us to land at a very nearby landing pad.  I assumed they were flying to and from the oil rigs that were visible not too far out.  These helicopters proved to be a huge problem later when we were trying to sleep.  The next morning, Vanessa took the dog for a walk along the beach while I whipped up some breakfast and shot some pictures of a pair of eagles flying along the treeline.

Our tour of the peninsula was done and we headed back towards Anchorage.  A few people mentioned the beauty of Girdwood, which was about 20-30 miles south of Anchorage and so we headed there, paying another visit to the park in Soldotna as well as the local brewery there. 
Girdwood is a very lovely ski resort town, nestled amongst some snow covered peaks with nearby glaciers.  The majority of the trails started at the nearby ski lodge and we headed there for the night.
The following morning we hit the trail that led up to the top of the ski lifts, a 2.2 mile trail that went straight up the mountain, delighted to find some blueberries along the way.  
This particular trail is part of a local race where contestants have 10hrs to climb the hill as many times as possible, taking the tram back down each time.  The day was rather dreary with a light mist that proved to be extremely cold at the top of the trail.  Having Ginger with us prevented us from going inside to lodge to warm up and so we immediately headed back down the trail.
The following morning we hit up the areas most popular trail, the Winner Trail, a 5 mile trail that went through some amazing woods and ended up overlooking a river.  There was a hand tram that you could use to cross the gorge and continue but it was down for repairs and we had to turn back.
The next morning we researched the Turnagain Arm trails since Summer had recommended them to us.  It turns out that there was a recent bear attack on this trail resulting in the death of the bear.  The bear’s carcass was left along the trail and the trail was closed for the meantime.  This meant that the only section of trail open to the public was only a few miles long and so we passed and headed on into Anchorage.

Only 2.2 miles to get to the lodge

Plush carpeting

July 29 – Homer

We left Seward heading towards Homer and made the town of Soldotna our pit stop for the night.  We found a nice park and went down to the river to watch people fishing for salmon along the banks.  The next morning we loaded up on gas and headed out to complete our journey to Homer.
Wow, words can not describe the beauty of Homer.  About a mile out of town there is a lookout along the road that offers some amazing views from up on high.  From there the road drops into a quaint little town.  Homer is a fishing community but not commercialized like Seward is.  The Spit attracts a lot of tourists, mostly RVers and people looking to try their luck on the fishing charters.  There are also boats taking you over to where the glaciers are, where you can go sightseeing for bears, try some halibut fishing, or spend endless days camping out in the wild wilderness.
The town of Homer isn’t impressive with its selection of trails but we did manage to find one and got in some nice views.


Homer overlook
Ginger loved our campsite as much as we did

July 26 – Kenai Fjords National Park

Exit Glacier

After doing some chores and checking out the local brewery, we headed over to the local national park for the night.  Black flies everywhere!  The following morning we attempted to tire out the dog before tackling the trail leading up to the ice fields.  We made it about halfway before water shortage and the black flies made us decide to turn back.  Even the short distance we did offered up some incredible views of Exit Glacier.  This wouldn’t be the first time we underestimate the amount of time it’d take to tackle a trail and bring an inadequate amount of water with us. 
We headed back to Seward for the night and explored the town a little bit more.  Seward really doesn’t offer up much unless you want to hit the trails or take advantage of one of many fishing or tour charters.


July 24 – Seward

After dumping sewage, stocking up with fruits and veggies at Costco, we headed south to Seward.  We stopped by the little town of Hope but there really wasn’t much to see or do except to buy a bumper sticker and kill a few mosquitoes. 
The drive to Seward is just incredible.  The natural scenery takes your breath away and you never want the journey to end.  However, Seward is really all not that far away and we soon entered the fishing community.  One of our first stops was to the Mt Marathon trail head where we would spend the night.  The following morning we attempted the trail but its steepness and rugged terrain, as well as stinging wasps, proved too much for Ginger and we headed back to the RV.  The biting black flies and mosquitoes were no joke either.  We found out about a jeep trail that connects to the Mt Marathon trail and decided to check that out since it seemed a bit more canine friendly.  This turned out to be a beautiful but steep trail that gave us some amazing views of the town and the bay.  On the way back down we took the connection to the Mt Marathon trail and still couldn’t believe that people could actually run, let alone climb this ridiculously rough trail.

The start/finish of the Mt Marathon race
Incredible views from town

July 22 - Anchorage Part 1

I was surprised by the size of Anchorage, expecting something just a tad bit larger than what we encountered in Fairbanks.  It had everything one could expect from a large city but all packed in a seemingly 20 mile radius, mountainous trails included.  This was great since we were never far away from whatever we desired. 
Upon arriving, the first order of business was to hit up one of the breweries to sample their wares.  Good stuff.  The business area was mostly paid parking and not very RV friendly so we didn’t hang around there too much.  Instead we investigated a few nearby parks and found one that had access to a beach, albeit a very muddy beach.  Later, we parked at Earthquake Park where we had a nice moose encounter until a car rolled up and scared it away.
We were supposed to meet our friend Summer the next morning but a glitch in communication happened and so we planned to meet the following morning for breakfast.  We went to University Lake where Ginger played in the water and socialized with her fellow canines.  Spent the night parked at the train station where Vanessa got to hold a freshly caught salmon and we woke up to our very first parking ticket.  Had I known it was a paid lot, we would have found other accommodations since we refuse to pay for our nightly stays.  Since I considered this parking lot sneaky with their lack of signs, I refused to pay the fine and will hope it doesn’t catch up to us later.
The following morning we had breakfast with Summer and then went to the local dealer to order a new door handle for the RV, which we’d pick up when we swung through Anchorage again.  Now its time to head south and see what the rest of Alaska has to offer.