Note: This is Part 5 of the AnchoRAGIN’ series. For Part 1, click here.
Evelyn, Rona, and I woke up early on Memorial Day to pack up all our stuff, grab some breakfast, and check out of our hotel so that we would have enough time to do some more exploring. Rona was leaving on an earlier flight than me and Evelyn, so she needed to be dropped off at the airport by 3PM. We loaded up the rental car and drove to the first destination of the day: the Glen Alps Trailhead in Chugach State Park.
There are three main trails you can pick from when you arrive at the parking lot and we chose to try and make it to the summit of Flattop Mountain. The trail was only about three miles round-trip and there were quite a few people who were already heading up and down the trail when we started.
After walking for a little bit on what is basically your typical dirt path, we came across our first set of stairs. It was a cool find, but we didn’t realize at the time that there would be a lot more of them coming up. Some of the stairs seemed to be much steeper than I anticipated they would be, reminding me of some of the stairs at the Great Wall of China where you actually had to almost crawl up. It wasn’t that bad here, but yes, there were a lot of stairs to traverse.
Once you conquer the stairs, there is a flat area that people can rest at before taking on the crazier stuff. Rona decided to stay here while Evelyn led the way scrambling over rocks and trying to find a marked trail that wasn’t really there. We basically had to just go with whatever looked easiest, but nothing looked easy. I may have been panicking a little bit on the inside before just being over the whole experience and trudging through all the rocks like I didn’t care about safety anymore. I just became concerned with getting to the top so I wouldn’t have to be climbing anymore!
And I did make it to the top! Honestly, I did feel pretty accomplished after seeing the post at the top letting you know that you were at an elevation of 3,510 feet. Evelyn and I only spent a few minutes up there before scrambling back down to meet up with Rona again. I am not sure whether it was harder to go up or to come down, but either way, I was glad to be back on the dirt path again. We eventually made it back to the car and then headed off to try and find some moose.
Yes, you read that correctly. We (especially Rona) wanted to see some moose and were advised by our kayak guide Jim that we would have a good chance of spotting one near Earthquake Park. Jim said that we wouldn’t even need to get out of the car to see one. Well, we drove around for a bit by Earthquake Park, but we didn’t have any luck. We just decided to park and explore a little bit by ourselves. No luck again. Since Rona needed to get to the airport, we decided to ditch our efforts and drop her off.
Evelyn and I decided to make a second trip back to Earthquake Park so that we could explore a little more. There was a sign which said that there was a path we could follow and learn more about the area and we thought it would be a good walk. Turned out it was much shorter than we anticipated, but it did lead to a sculpture and various information boards about the 1964 Good Friday earthquake which rocked Anchorage and other parts of Alaska. The earthquake had a magnitude of 9.2 and killed 139 people. It even got an extreme (XI) on the Mercalli intensity scale, second only to the catastrophic (XII) level that indicates total destruction. A landslide that knocked out over seventy houses eventually became the site of Earthquake Park.
After reading more about the earthquake, we decided to go down some paths and discovered that there were smaller paths that crossed out of the main road. Evelyn wanted to go and explore these paths and, thinking that this might be a great opportunity to find a moose, I followed. This may or may not have been a bad idea.
None of these paths are really marked, but they constantly split up so you have a lot of decisions to make as to which direction you want to go. Think of it as walking on lines of a spider web and making random right or left turns when you got the opportunity. There were even some bridges to help you get across more rugged areas. We were definitely in the middle of a forest and that is usually a beautiful sight. Too bad I was too preoccupied with dealing with an annoying pest to really enjoy it.
Yep, mosquitoes. Lots of them too. I should have known. I’ve been seeing things all weekend talking about how mosquitoes are jokingly referred to Alaska’s state bird, so I should have been prepared, but I wasn’t. Ugh, it was such a horrible experience constantly swatting them away. On top of that, we were increasingly getting deeper into this forest and had no idea where we were. At one point, we even ended up in someone’s backyard! I finally busted out the GPS on my phone and used satellite imagery and the compass to get us back on the main trail and away from these bugs.
When we made it back to the main road, I was so happy. I had just battled my way through hordes of mosquitoes and I survived. I did end up getting several bites on my face, the back of my head, and the back of my hand. It was awful and the one on my hand even broke out into hives. All that distress and we didn’t even see one moose. Evelyn was ecstatic though. She thought this forest was the best thing ever. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
We made a quick stop at Lynn Ary Park nearby because Evelyn wanted to take a picture with Saturn, one of the planets in the Anchorage Lightspeed Planet Walk, a scale model of the solar system designed by Eli Menaker and made into reality by the Anchorage Rotary after selecting it as its centennial project. Each step at a leisurely pace from one planet to another is supposed to equal about 300,000 kilometers, or the approximate distance light travels in one second. We made it back to Downtown Anchorage afterwards and ended up stopping by the sun as well.
Since we still had a couple more hours until we had to return the rental car and wait for our flight back home, Evelyn and I decided to do some souvenir shopping at Polar Bear Gifts (yay for no sales tax!) and eat dinner at Solstice Bar and Grill.
The time finally came to drop off our car and check into our flight. For some reason, I got a free fast pass to skip the security line (maybe the airline learned how I almost missed the two flights on my way to Anchorage), but I’m not complaining. We checked out some of the shops for a little bit and I even got an adorable small plush reindeer to remember the trip by, but most of our time was probably spent just waiting for the gate to open.
Then we went back home.
Anchorage was really fun and I am so glad that we made the random decision to go through with this trip. It was also nice to relive it a little bit while writing these posts. We didn’t find any moose, but we did do a lot of other things and I hope that you check out the other parts of the series if you haven’t already. I’m not really sure where our next trip will take us (though there are already talks of Costa Rica 2015), but I think anywhere will be fine by me. Adventure is out there if you are willing to look for it.
Check out other posts in the AnchoRAGIN’ series:
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 1): Adventures in Downtown Anchorage
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 2): Reindeer Are Better Than People
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 3): What’s the Address for the Glacier?
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 4): Glacier Kayaking
– AnchoRAGIN’ (Part 5): A Wild Moose Chase