Sunday, September 09, 2012

Mudflats, Rocks, Downed Trees, And More On Sunny Sunday on Seward Highway

It was too nice a day to stay home.

We drove down the Seward Highway.

Here are the railroad tracks looking south down Turnagain Arm.

Looking back toward Anchorage you could see the Alaska Range bright and clear in the distance. 

Our goal was a patch of rocky beach we like.  But it was pretty windy (I'd guess 20 to 30 mph) and J found a nice rock that blocked the wind and let her enjoy the sunshine while I walked down the beach.

The rocks go to the edge of the mudflats.  Here you can see a layer of mudflats, then the water, then the base of the mountains on the other side. 

 J didn't want to walk in the strong wind so we backtracked to McHugh Creek and took the path toward Potter.  Up there - on the other side of the Seward Highway and up a bit into the trees - there was no wind and it began to feel warm in the sun.

 But all those cottonwoods proved to be vulnerable to the winds we had last week.  (I'm assuming these were recent falls we came upon, though some - as you'll see - had been sawed to clear the trail.)

 It was a little messy, but we could negotiate the trail pretty easily here. 

 The insides of the downed cottonwoods were pretty soft.  You could squeeze the pulp like a sponge almost. 

I liked the sun-like design where the chainsaw had cut the mature trees, with their ridged trunks.

While you could see the water through the trees for a lot of the trail, this was one of just a couple of spots where you got a view of Turnagain Arm and the Seward Highway below.

 This spider - well I assumed it was a spider, but I only see five of its eight legs - seemed to be enjoying the sun on the newly exposed cottonwood insides.  [Now that was a good case of transferring human feelings to animals.  Who knows what it was feeling out there?]

The body would have fit on a quarter easily.

In addition to cottonwoods, devil's club was everywhere and also some red baneberries. 

At first glance they look pretty similar, but the devil's club has much larger thorned leaves and their berries aren't translucent like the baneberries are.  Don't eat the baneberries!!

The US Forest Service has lots of information on baneberries:

NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Red baneberry's energy and protein value are rated as poor [21].  Red baneberry's name comes from a poisonous essential oil or glycoside (protoanemonin) found in all parts of the plant but most concentrated in the berries and root [43,72].  Symptoms of poisoning include gastroenteritis, stomach cramps, headache, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and circulatory failure [72].
 But some bird species eat the berries and elk and other deer eat the foliage.

We hiked about 3 miles in (almost to the Potter Marsh end) but decided these two big cottonwoods across the trail was a good place to turn back. 

There were lots of people on the trail and lots of dogs.  We heard reports from hikers going to and back of four black bears sighted.  We didn't see them.  J wasn't very disappointed about that. 

We also saw this young agent of the devil's club.    Actually he zipped up the hood to show me that his sweatshirt turned into this neat Halloween costume. The eyes had a mesh covering he could see through.

These trees seemed to be dancing on the side of the trail.

Here's yet another fallen cottonwood, but it was high enough over the trail not to be a problem.

As we got near the McHugh Creek parking lot we passed a man in an electronic wheel chair making his way up the trail.  I'm not sure how far he would be able to get, but I was impressed he got that far. 

Finally, on the drive back home we stopped at Potter Marsh where we saw a pair of swans in the distance.  If I had a good telephoto, I'd show you.  This picture is much better than the one I got of the swans. 


  1. Nice day for you and good places to remember for me. We're back home in London after a very good journey visiting families in Minnesota and Nevada.

  2. Beautiful! Enjoyed those. I wished I'd been along.

  3. What a nice photo blog. Thanks for sharing. Makes me homesick for Alaska. Aaahhhhh....


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