For this week, we hiked up and behind Lost Lake near Seward. Surprisingly, it was in many ways a much more physically demanding week than the one before it, at least for me. It was also (unsurprisingly) a lot of fun.
We camped in a stony gulch/valley filled with a bunch of rocks and situated right near the bottom of a glacier, the lower part of which was also covered with rock. The unique setting offered both unique challenges and features to our camping experience. We had to prepare the sites for our tents a bit more than usual, removing stones and covering the ground with softer gravel and sand. It was also just a bit harder than usual to gather water to filter for drinking and to fill the pot for cooking, etc, seeing as we had to walk down a rocky slope to the silt-filled lake/pond nearby, and every time one had to use the facilities, it was a bit of a hike/scramble up a different rocky slope just to get out of sight.
The rocks also afforded unique building opportunities. Some of our group constructed some pretty sweet thrones out of rocks, complete with a substantial table and footstools. Eventually, most of us followed suit…my own throne was a bit wobbly, but suitable enough for a few days. It was fun to construct, especially since I don’t usually make things like that.
The hike in on Monday went pretty well, though it was a long distance, especially for a few of the campers. We covered probably 10 miles that first day. On the way up, there was the remains of an old cabin from probably the 20’s or so that we stepped off the trail to take a gander at. It was neat.
On Tuesday, we did a day hike that was really difficult for me. A lot of it was either through tall weeds or some sort of growth, or up a substantially steep slope that seemed to go on forever and that lent itself quite well to losing one’s foothold. Some of us, including me, slipped once or twice, and it was a little hard to stop going. I was really thankful nobody dropped a water bottle or anything down a hill during this week, unlike during the two weeks book-ending it. When we finally got to the ridge we were aiming for, however, lunch was super satisfying and the view cool. The view got even better when we continued on a bit higher after eating–we could see a bit of Exit Glacier over near Seward, mountains on every side, and several other glaciers and snow. One snow-covered slope was particularly neat to see, displaying a wide crack across the face of the slope about halfway down, over a surface that looked deceptively sound.
We also encountered another really neat view on the hike back down: three brown bears, a sow with two cubs. Seeing as we had a large group and were high on the hill when we spotted the bears, we were able to sneak closer to them and get within 600 yards or so for a closer view and some pictures. After looking at them for just a bit, and seeing as the mama bear, totally unaware of our presence, was starting to amble in our direction, we soon scared them away with shouts and some well-aimed large rocks tumbling down the slope. It was really cool to see them, especially as they took off over the terrain. I must say, though, that after that Tuesday afternoon a few weeks ago, I’ve started to take my bear spray just a bit more seriously…but the sighting would’ve made the difficult hike thoroughly worth it, if the view hadn’t already.
The wildflowers this week were also tremendously various and abundant…forget-me-nots, lupine, white star flowers, and many others in pink, yellows, and greens of which I do not know their names smiled up at us as we hiked along. “Pretty” is the adjective that seems most fitting, but it really doesn’t do them justice.
On Thursday, we did another fun day hike. It was (thankfully) not as hard as the one on Tuesday, but the view was just as cool, and I enjoyed the trek itself a bit more. Some of the group hiked even higher up to the sub-peak of Mt. Ascension, which was a cool opportunity for them. And from where we all ate our delicious lunch of pita bread with cream cheese and bacon bits we could see some other neat peaks in a line of mountains stretching out before us.
And on Friday, we hiked out to the vans…all 12 miles (or so)! It was a long day, but still fun. Lost Lake is a cool place, and as we neared the end of the trail, we caught glimpses of Resurrection Bay. Amazing how easy an established trail felt to hike on again after some of the trail-blazing of our own we had done throughout the week. Lost Lake is also a popular destination for mountain bikers, runners, and day hikers; mountain biking seems like an intense and impressive sport. Maybe I’ll try that sometime… J
Altogether, we estimated that we hiked about 20 miles during this week.