Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hope Mountain

It's always a joy to discover a mountain or hike you have never been on. While I make no claim to have explored every inch of the Chugach Range, it is a special day when I can go into the mountains and get a truly novel view. This Saturday, Andrea and I, and Larry, Sandra, Teeny, Ray and Pat hiked up Hope Mountain outside of Hope. Because Hope is on the other side of Turnagain Arm from Anchorage, at the top of the mountain, you get a very rare view of Anchorage from the south. It was interesting to see the mountains along the Seward Highway from that perspective. All the peaks we usually climb and trails we run look so much more steep and sinister from that far away.

As hikes go, Hope Mountain is a beauty. The trail takes you from almost sea level to over 3,500 feet in the span of about three miles - the pitch is relentless with little opportunity to rest. We were hands to thighs all the way up save a middle saddle we gained about five-hundred feet from the summit. There was a patch of snow there held over from winter and Emerson was able to cool off before the final climb to the summit. (Long alpine days are hard on dogs if the sun is out because there is little to no water in the high mountains.)

On the descent, we watched a bore tide come in from Cook Inlet. The bore tides in Turnagain Arm can come as a three foot wall of water and travel as fast as a car. From our lofty viewpoint, the wall looked less ominous, a fine white line traversing the length of the arm, slowly fading from existence as it collided with the massive sandbars that the low tide had left in its wake.


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