Saturday, July 1 looked like it would be a nice day by Anchorage standards. No rain
With the hint of a nice day in South Central Alaska, you better take advantage of it because it won’t last long. So, Evan and I decided to go to Eklutna for a mountain bike ride.
Eklutna is a lake not far from Anchorage in the Chugach mountains. It’s gorgeous. The lake is about 8 miles long, or at least that’s how long the trail is around the lake to the far end. You can go another almost 5 miles to where the glacier viewing area is.
The viewing area is there; however, the glacier is not.
In all we biked about 25.5 miles round trip. The trail was very nice, and mostly flat, which at about 22 miles in was a real mercy.
This time of year, the wild flowers in Alaska are in bloom. The trail had lots of Bluebells, particularly in the more wooded areas. Bluebells are special to me because they are one of the first wild flowers I remember my dad showing me and naming for me as a kid.
There was a beautiful Red Columbine that had recently come into bloom. In general, there aren’t a great many red colored wild flowers in Alaska-lots of violets, purples, and blues. Wild geranium was mixed in with the Bluebells and made for glorious color along the trail.
The water is low in the lake, so the bank was steep. In one spot, there were rocks that looked as though someone had taken a brush, dipped it in white paint, and drizzled it on the rocks. There were also these reddish rocks scattered among the other beach rocks.
At the far end of the lake, we entered a eerie patch of woods that had a Mordorian feel to it. There was more light. But it was gray because of the loud cover. The landscape was now open but filled with blackened trees. Turns out there had been a forest fire two summers ago. There were no leaves on the trees, and blackened stumps poked out of the green grass. Forest fires amaze in how they alter landscapes, and how quickly plant life returns. After a forest fire in Alaska, vast fields of Fireweed are seen almost immediately.
At the end of the lake. The trail led us into a narrow canyon that had been carved out by a glacier. The scenery was spectacular. It was about this time, the sun came out lighting up the waterfalls and the mountain sides.
We stopped for lunch at the glacier viewing area and drank in the quickly changing light. Clouds rolled across these casting shadows on the sides of the canyon. I was particularly taken with the rock slide areas and their strange beauty. Shooting I the changing light was a fun exercise in trying to capture the colors, the shadows, and the light.
On the way out, we passed a two women who we were playing leapfrog with along the trails. They sat I the middle of a bridge eating their lunch and basking in the sun. They asked us if we had seen the black bear. We hadn’t. We had Bear Bells to protect us!
Before setting out, we stopped at Fred Meyer in Eagle River to buy Bear Bells. The concept behind a Bear Bell is the noise will scare bears away. As I’ve been hiking in Alaska, I’ll pass people or dogs who ring-a-ding-ding by me. It can give a forest hike an oddly Farie-like feeling with the tinkling of bells.
It’s a simple jingle bell that fastens via a velcro strap to bike handlebars or a belt loop. This one is fancy because it has a mesh bag you can put the bell in that has a magnet to quiet the bell when you don’t require it’s protective powers.
I alternately felt safer with the Bear Bell and a little silly with this tinkling warning device on my bike. It was loud too! Eventually I moved it to the back side of the bike so it wouldn’t bug me too much.
As we passed the two ladies, I felt as though having the Bear Bell was a good idea. I’d like to believe we protected them too. They weren’t screwing around, because they were packing Bear Spray.
One other highlight included Serenity Falls. The water cascaded down the mountain side and reminded me of being in the Io Valley on Maui. There was a lushness to the greens in the Eklutna Canyon, nothing like Hawaii, but the steep angles and high waterfalls had a similar feel.
Below are some shots from the trip.
Days like this make the 365 Photo Project a lot easier.