After a mere 36 hours in Tburg, my dad drove me up to the Syracuse Airport to begin my Alaskan Adventure. I asked him to drive around the airport and wait to see if anything fishy came up. The last few times i checked into Syracuse funny things happened, so I was suspicious. However, I checked in record time and waited for my dad at the curb, wished him farewell and walked upstairs to pass through the new gate facilities. After a brief stop in Atlanta, I was now headed in the correct direction towards Alaska. The 5+ hour flight from Atlanta to Seattle featured many a corn-field view, and some awesome views of the Rockies. Had I been seated in a window seat, I would have something to show for those views. Instead I bided on old lenses on Ebay, which is one of the only websites you can access for free on the Delta flight. Upon landing in Seattle I witnessed a Fed Ex plane come into landing at almost the same instant as us. I had enough time in Seattle to grab a quick bagel and then get on the final leg to Anchorage.
Expecting a sleepy airport I found quite the opposite, bars full, people chatting, etc. I decided instead of bivying on the airport floor I'd try to see if I could pick up my car early. Without a hitch, I was rolling out of the airport about 30 minutes after landing. After getting a bit lost in Anchorage I found Eagle River Campground where Joe and Alanna were hanging out. I found the tent sites, and wandered up to one, saw it had bicycles and decided to knock on the tent door. Sure enough, Joe responded and after a few exchanges, I decided I'd sleep on the picnic table.
After a somewhat restless night: are those bears? Is it raining? Northern Lights? I woke up prior to dawn and went and grabbed my tripod and camera to photograph the Eagle River. Once Joe got up I learned that they had met some really cool folks who had loaned them camp chairs, a stove, a huge tarp and some other supplies. We made a quick plan and headed into Anchorage and went to the library, bought food at Carrs. At the local REI I tried to return a broken jacket. The lady at the returns counter officially "Harshed my Mellow" and didn't have any sympathy for me, even telling me the jacket was dirty. I guess Return Everything to Indonesia isn't that way anymore.
We returned to the wilds and went on a nice 6 mile ramble up the north fork of the Eagle River. Although most of the hike was in the rain, the clouds cleared a few times for sweet views of the surrounding mountains. The Eagle River really impressed me as a dont-fall-in-it kinda river. We met a ranger named Nina who was very helpful about the area. Finally we returned to our campsite, I setup my tent for the first time since 2009 and went to bed early after some smores.
The next day we decided to move camp to Eklutna Lake in the Chugach State Park. It was a nice short drive and we got in early enough to take a steep hike up to the Alpine Tundra. Up there we found a bunch of locals picking blueberries near Twin Peaks. We were happy it wasn't raining.
The next day we woke up and it was raining pretty much all night, so we went on a short hike to Thundbird Falls in the rain, by the time we got back to the car the rain cleared and we went on a hike up to Eklunta Peak which was pretty rad. We found more locals picking blueberries and then headed towards the summit. Epic clouds moved in and we visibility was reduced to only a few tens of yards. After some debate, we decided it was safer to retrace our steps back to the car than to forge new ground on the purposed loop we had originally set out to complete. Many sheep trails and low visibility, absence of singage and the fact we had no good map, probably was a good decision. On the way down the clouds cleared and we had a nice evening back at our camp, with a sweet sunset of Bald Peak on Eklutna Lake.
In the morning I woke to the sound of what seemed to be a panting hyper puppy, and after some debate, decided it was worth opening my tent to see what it was. Suspicions confirmed, a black lab was pouncing around in our site.
After making a minor detour the day prior, Joe found a hike near Knik River that looked appetizing, so we set out in the morning up Pioneer Ridge. We knew we wouldn't make it to the summit, so around 3 miles and 3000' into the hike we turned around, just past a fat patch of blueberries. All along the hike we enjoyed massive views of the Knik glacier and the mountains east of Palmer. On the way back we stopped at the Old Glenn Highway Bridge over the Knik River and I created some long-exposure images in gale-force winds that literally almost knocked me over. We needed to make some change in the town of Butte to pay the self-pay campground at Eklutna, and thought we also might pick up some bread. However, at the place we stopped the lad simply asked if we wanted hamburger buns or hot dog rolls and we decided that Anchorage might be a better place to score some eats. After our interesting encounter with the public in Butte, we retired to our camp at the beautiful lake and went to bed. The next morning we headed into Anchorage to resupply our food stock and headed south to the Kenai Peninsula.
Looking down from near Eklutna Peak on the clouds cape below
Looking towards the Alaska Range across the Knik River from Pioneer Ridge
Knik River long exposure from near the town of Butte
Thunderbird Falls, Chugach State Park
Sunset on Accounted Lake, Chugach State Park