My sister Jean flew in from Montana recently for a short but sweet hiking rampage. After a warm-up on the local Granite Tors trail, we headed south and met some Denali area friends to backpack the Kesugi Ridge trail in Denali State Park. A few of us had been trying for years to coordinate our complicated summer work schedules to do this hike, and finally we managed to all be free at the same time.
The first day was spectacular. We woke to blue skies and bright sunshine, which was a surprise after the last week of rainy cold weather. The trail follows a high alpine ridge and we spent the day reveling in our luck and admiring the mountains. Unfortunately, the rain moved in overnight and we woke to wet tents and less inspiring conditions. After several hours of walking in the wet we decided the smart money was to bail on the Ermine Hill trail rather than continuing on for another day of what looked like bad weather. Many thanks to Jean’s friends Karen and Colin in Healy who took us in and dried us out – friends with a heated airplane hanger for a garage are good friends indeed. The last minute addition of the boot dryer to the trunk of the car was also a really, really good move.
From there, we hiked the newly extended Triple Lakes Trail in Denali Park, spent a couple of days hiking and camping in Hatcher Pass (and got an AMAZING redneck hold-on-for-your-life back of the pickup truck ride up an old mining road from a chain smoking granny,) camped in Girdwood with a vast quantity of slugs, and finally ended in Hope with a day hike on the Resurrection Pass trail. It seemed as though we should have just kept on going on down the Kenai Peninsula – there is something so nice about getting in the groove of days spent worrying about nothing more than finding a place to hike, a place to pitch a tent, and finding something to eat. Someday that will be the pattern of my whole summer.
As I drove north after dropping Jean at the Anchorage airport, a full rainbow stretched across the sky just south of Nenana.