Welcome to Alaska

Say what you will about Anchorage (its un-Alaskan metropolitan qualities), it is undeniably one of the greatest gateways to wilderness in the entire world. Though I wouldn’t recommend it as such, Denali National Park can be a day trip from the city, and I believe that speaks volumes. Breea, Della, and I just got back from visiting my parents who moved to Anchorage earlier this year, and for at least a couple of us the adventures served primarily to induce a longing for the next round. The scenic highlights for me in the last week were the various views deep into the heart of the Chugach Range, where heavy snowfall gives the mountains the appearance of being rivals to peaks double their size.

"Matanuska Overlook" - the northeast ridge of Mt. Marcus Baker looms over the sprawling Matanuska Glacier (click the photo for a link to a larger version)

On Sunday evening, Breea and I took off for an overnight along the Glenn Highway. The lingering light of Alaskan summer evenings (especially the farther west you get) makes getting a late start feel pretty much the same as getting an early start, and by the time we made it to the Sheep Mountain Lodge, there was still plenty of time for a walk and camp-stove dinner. Spending the night in the bunkhouse (with a room to ourselves) made it possible for me to get up in time for a pre-dawn trip to Glennallen, but the best hours of our outing were the ones we spent on a Forest Service trail at the Matanuska Glacier overlook area.

"Aspen Canopy" - I've seen this style of image many times before, and Alaska's aspen forests provide a cluttered variation

I’ve never been in an aspen forest before (at least in my working memory), and it was a thrill to be walking between all the beautiful, clean trunks. Breea an I stopped to read all the corny informational signs along the loop trail, and she even helped me get a couple running photos despite feeling silly. On the way back to Anchorage, we squeezed in one more stop and still made it there in time to put Della down for her nap.

"Matanuska Run" - Breea runs (for the camera) on the loop trail off the Glenn Highway